4 Questions with One of Minnesota’s Healthcare Communications and Strategy Leaders

I’ve only been part of The Minnesota Health Strategy and Communications Network (MHSCN) board of directors for a few months and it’s already been an incredibly positive experience. I’m excited to play a role in executing on the organization’s strategic direction moving forward – with the goals of expanding the offerings in education, networking, professional development and access to relevant resources to help health communicators and strategic planners succeed in our careers. Overseeing that work in 2020 will be incoming board president Cassi Chrzanowski, but before we dive into the new year, I took the opportunity to connect with outgoing board president, Paul Fiore, and ask his thoughts on where the health communications industry is going and why he was drawn to the healthcare industry in the first place.

What are some of healthcare strategic planners and communicators’ biggest challenges and opportunities? How can an organization like MHSCN help them?

One of the changes that has taken place over the last 3 – 5 years is an expansion of the role of marketing, communications and strategy professionals in healthcare. We have definitely moved beyond our traditional roles of creating and implementing a marketing and/or communications plan, and are now being seen as problem solvers with a unique skill set and a patient-centered view of our organizations and the environment we operate within. Brand building, the move to digital marketing and a real and focused need to demonstrate ROI for our work come along with this shift.

This movement provides a great opportunity for professionals in our field, but it also requires a dedicated effort to keep pace with the changes in tactical execution, measurement, consumer preference and new methods to generate demand.

MHSCN is well positioned to help professionals by offering educational opportunities focused on these key areas, networking events to connect with peers and access to great content through our affiliation with the Society for Health Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD).

What drew you to the health care industry?

I wanted to be involved in a sector that had an impact on people’s lives. Around the time I made the jump to healthcare, I had some personal encounters with hospitals and health systems and realized what an important effect they can have on people’s lives – often at the most critical times. Our roles are to get the right people to the right professionals at the right time. The opportunity to see patients receive life-changing care is truly rewarding.

What do you think the future of the field of health strategic planning and communications/marketing looks like?

Data, analytics, digital technologies and AI platforms/machine learning will drive the work we do moving forward. We will all need to be ready to adapt to the changes that are just around the corner (or here already). But, these new areas of focus and the skill sets that are required to utilize them effectively will also require professionals that are adept in branding, competitive analysis, integrated marketing planning and story-telling. All areas we currently have expertise. So, like so many areas of personal and professional lives, we will adapt, learn and excel along the way.

After being president of MHSCN and with your term wrapping up, what have you learned about Minnesota’s health communications industry and what are you most excited about for the future of the community?

The professionals in our field are amazingly talented and passionate about helping their organizations and the patients they serve. We come from large and small organizations, individual freelancers to large agencies. But we all have something to share and can learn from each other. There is also an energy and vibrancy in our membership that you can feel at networking events and conferences. They are ready to embrace the future and adapt their skills to meet the changing landscape.

I’m also very excited about the MHSCN Board. We have an extremely talented group of professionals who are dedicated to helping their peers succeed. I think you will see great things coming out of MHSCN in the next year with our new President, Cassi Chrzanowski.

As public relations, advertising, marketing and communications professionals, we’re pretty lucky here in the Twin Cities. There are countless associations and networking opportunities to take advantage of – whether you’re looking for job or educational opportunities or to expand your network. But we all know these professional associations are not all created equal. MHSCN has created a really supportive community that, in my opinion, should be on every Minnesota-based health communicator or strategic planner’s radar. If you have questions about MHSCN, feel free to email me, and I hope to see you at a future event!

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