TechBytes with Jody Spusta, COO, Provider Market at Welltok

TechBytes with Jody Spusta, COO, Provider Market at Welltok
TechBytes with Jody Spusta, COO, Provider Market at Welltok

Could you tell us about your role and journey into Technology?

I have been working in CRM Healthcare Marketing, Sales and Client Strategy my whole career, with nearly two decades of experience in Account and Client Relationship Management. I helped start Tea Leaves Health in 2011 to address a gap in the market for a Customer Relationship Management platform (CRM) designed to address the unique needs in Healthcare – acquiring and retaining high-value patients.

We also created the industry’s leading Physician Relationship Management (PRM) platform to keep referrals in-network and help providers grow more strategically. Tea Leaves Health was acquired by Welltok in 2017, and I now serve as COO of Welltok’s Provider market overseeing strategic partnerships, technology implementations, client strategy and Marketing campaign execution for our 400+ hospital clients.

What is Welltok and how does it fit into a modern SaaS business? 

Welltok is an enterprise software-as-a-service company that manages, tracks and drives consumer health actions such as improving medication adherence, getting an annual physical or managing a chronic condition. We work with employers, health plans, providers and pharmacies to help engage their consumers in all areas of their health and wellbeing. We do this through personalized outreach and a combination of clinical and consumer data to determine which programs would resonate the most with individuals.

The SaaS business is extremely important to our success and our clients – it provides scalability as well as configuration. When working with our customers, Welltok takes a solution-first approach by breaking down the client’s needs and goals, then identifying the platform capabilities that can effectively address it. When you think about implementation, which can be the death of so many projects, it’s important to make it as easy and streamlined as possible with an established tool set.

Could you tell us about the role of Direct mail systems in Healthcare industry?

It is interesting to see a shift back to direct mail across many industries. Healthcare, in particular, has been utilizing direct mail for a long time and provides an advantage to marketers. Consumers often have more than one email address/account and automatic filters can limit what gets through to them or what they read. Additionally, advancements in data are helping make the content even more relevant and actionable. Direct Mail is a very effective format for the Healthcare industry and on the rise.

We used to see an average 1-3% response rate for prospects, but in 2018 it was up to 4.9% on average. Layer on our powerful data sets to strategically target an audience with a personalized message, and you will see a dramatic increase in response rates.

However, solely using direct mail is not the answer. You start to see real value and an increase in response rates when you combine direct mail with other channels. For example, you can send a direct mail campaign and then follow up with an email to hit their inbox 3-4 days later. Then, you can set up the digital ad to be placed two days after the email.

In Healthcare and across industries, we have to think about fitting into the busy lifestyles of the people we are trying to get and keep healthy. It will likely take a few touch points for people to act, so you should think through the strategy and plan how you are going to achieve that by leveraging data and taking a multi-channel approach.

Could you explain your opinion on ‘junk in the inbox’ and how Healthcare marketers can avoid these from hampering Marketing campaigns?  

A classic example of how to avoid being sorted as “junk mail” is hitting people at the right medium for them. Healthcare relatively still has the advantage of being a trusted source, so consumers are more likely to open and read content that is being sent to them from a provider organization. When sending an email, it doesn’t always hit people at the right time to take action and ultimately gets lost in inboxes.

With direct mail, consumers typically have a space in their home where they place letters and paperwork to follow up on later. This way, people can keep your direct mail and act on it at a time that is convenient for them. The tangible aspect of direct mail leaves a deeper footprint on the brain and has a broader recall compared to digital, which can be more effectively utilized for reminders and nudges.

What do you think about the fine combination of Content Marketers, Healthcare Marketers, Digital Anthropologists, AI Engineers and Data Scientists in your industry? 

If we are really all working towards delivering a healthier population and giving people access and knowledge to achieve their optimal health, then players (Content Marketers, Healthcare Marketers, Digital Anthropologists, AI Engineers, and Data Scientists) must work together. I strongly believe that you need to leverage the best capabilities to make yourself and your materials the most relevant they can be.

Content and creative are like the eye-catching exterior of the car, and the AI and data components are the engines that power Strategic Marketing. To be successful, we must bring together all of these components to make an impact, which is what Welltok has been building over the past decade. We have all the components and expertise in curated content, Healthcare Marketing strategy, Digital Strategy and Execution, which is all backed by AI, Machine Learning and our Data Science team.

What SaaS start-ups and labs are you keenly following?  

I am interested in what companies like 23andME are doing with their data and research and how they are going to increase their database with a broader representation of the population (currently it is mostly Caucasian affluent Americans) to really change our populations’ health. I am also very interested in companies like Impossible Foods and those trying to solve future food problems we are going to face.

From a Marketing perspective, I keenly follow and partner with Inte Q’s Customer Love Score™ SaaS product on emotional connection to brand loyalty. This is making social listening actionable by channel. RealityBLU is also doing really cool things in AR for Marketing. Again, it is important to appeal to an audience in a different way to make memorable moments that consumers can connect to. Telehealth companies also spark my interest. This type of technology is the future and relates directly to how I talk about reaching people on their terms in relevancy.

Which superhuman character/movie do you most profoundly connect with?

Helen Parr, the mom in The Incredibles. I’m not super stretchy, but even if I’m getting stretched thin at work or life the most important responsibility I have is being a mom to four wonderful young girls. Maybe the fact that I have four girls ages 9 and under is my superhuman power?

What technologies within Healthcare are you interested in? 

I love data and the potential of what can be done with it. The way that we analyze consumer data and social determinants of health at Welltok is fascinating, it reveals so much more about individual health needs than clinical data alone. We need to work for the consumer, and frankly, they are going to demand it.

Today’s companies have to be 3 steps ahead of what consumers want. The fast and nimble companies who understand how to use Machine Learning and AI to change how patients move through the healthcare process – and navigate away from the tired patient journey to what is really needed will be successful.

I am also interested in companies that are doing social listening. Consumer voice and reputation management is extremely important when people turn to the internet to get openings and recommendations. There are a lot of companies out there claiming to do social listening, but they seem to fall short in my opinion. If you don’t have full insights and an industry-specific strategy to go with the findings, you leave a huge opportunity on the table. I think Healthcare is just starting to scratch the surface on this or has been putting it on the back burner. It is time to take it up a notch.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?  

Not sure about the smartest, but this is something I do regularly. I know myself pretty darn well so I listen to myself and recognize those key windows of hyper-productivity. I know what hours of the day are going to be my best, most creative and when to do what kinds of calls or tasks. I am more creative in the early morning, most productive in the late morning and task orientated in the afternoon. I use this to my advantage and schedule the day accordingly.

Productivity also is also about being thoughtful in my output. During the times when I am focused on being creative about company growth, I do not let the email go off or have my phone near me. I concentrate on what I am doing to really allow myself the time and space needed to tackle those tasks.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read: 

I am a super supporter of women that are in MarTech. I specifically like learning from those who empower other women to grow in their careers and continue to make a name, have a voice and allow room for other women to get a seat that table. I would look at Laura Lee Jones, Founder, and CEO of LionShare Marketing, and Tara Raeber Vail, VP of Marketing and Communications at Ascension as strong women who are making a difference in the industry.

Jody Spusta is COO of the Provider Market at Welltok. She is a seasoned healthcare marketing professional with a background in business development, customer relationship management, media relations and market research. Jody earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

welltok logo

Welltok is a data-driven, enterprise SaaS company that delivers the healthcare industry’s leading consumer activation platform. Welltok’s solutions empower leading health plans, employers, providers and public entities to connect consumers with personalized health improvement resources, making it easy and rewarding for consumers to complete actions that optimize their health and wellbeing. Only Welltok leverages a machine-learning, multi-channel approach proven to help innovative organizations power growth and retention initiatives, improve healthcare value, and streamline the consumer experience, while upholding the highest security and compliance standards.

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