In this unprecedented age of digital connectivity and predictive modeling, we in the field of marketing and planning are uniquely positioned to reach — and help — more people than ever. But not long ago, I realized that how we come to understand consumer behaviors, mine admissions and population data, and gauge physician preferences may not be clear to many of my colleagues within Johns Hopkins. The same seemed to be generally true of the vast capabilities and functions of our field.

With that in mind, in 2016, my team and I created Reach, an internal, digital publication that showcases three examples — measurable and easy to grasp — of how we’re using new and emerging platforms to inform strategic directions within Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The intention from the outset was to make the stories in Reach brief and digestible for our leaders, faculty and staff members. In doing so, we concisely elucidate some of the ways we strive to make the lives of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s 41,000 employees — and ultimately the lives of current and potential patients — better.

One story, for example, looked at what happened when a hospital in Laurel, Maryland, shifted primarily to outpatient services, and our own Howard County General Hospital saw a spike in patients. That sounds like a good thing, right? Not necessarily.

Under Maryland's unique all-payer system, the amount a hospital can earn from in-state patients is capped, and this meant that Howard County General would likely provide more services for little to no more revenue. After the shift, our data analysis team pulled ZIP codes and compared them with those of patients being discharged, and the data showed a 25 percent jump in medical/surgical and psychiatric discharges of Laurel-area patients compared with the previous year. Using this research, we were able to help develop a strategy that resulted in a planned increase in Howard County General’s budget.

In another story, we spotlighted our work to understand how potential referring physicians want to hear about the biomedical discoveries and clinical innovations taking place here at Johns Hopkins. Did they value digital communications over print? Did they prefer face-to-face visits?

To find out, we commissioned a survey in four nearby states and Florida. Preliminary results showed that 57 percent of physicians rated digital information about their specialty as ‘very valuable,’ compared with 40 percent for print and 28 percent for in-person. Today, we’re increasing our digital outreach based on the data. By providing the information to doctors the way they prefer, the more opportunity we have to help their patients most in need.

At the end of the day, that’s really what we are here to do.

By using the techniques, approaches and emerging technological platforms of our field, we aim to collaborate with our incredible faculty members and caregivers to help reach — and improve the health of — as many people as possible.

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