Patient Panels: Listening to the Voice of the Patient at Cleveland Clinic and Dean Health

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

michelle frietchen

Michelle Frietchen

[SHSMD13 Podcast Series] There are dozens of ways that hospital marketing and advertising can benefit from a readily available feedback channel. For some facilities, an online patient insight community taps into their customer base for a valuable “voice of the patient” resource.

In our continuing series of podcasts, Healthcare Success Co-Founder Lonnie Hirsch talked with Michelle Frietchen, Senior Manager of Market Research & Analytics, Cleveland Clinic, and Mark Rothwell, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Dean Health.

Online communities are a group of patients who have agreed to participate in various forms of research engagement, such as online surveys, online discussion boards, or live focus group or telephone interview,” Michelle said. They provide a rapid feedback resource for the hospital to inject the voice of the patient into daily business decisions.

mark rothwell

Mark Rothwell

Michelle and Mark will be co-presenting a session on the topic of Online Patient Insight Communities on Monday, September 30 at the SHSMD Connections 2013 conference for the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development of the American Hospital Association in Chicago.

In the podcast that follows with Michelle and Mark, they describe how their organizations create and leverage their online patient insight communities to optimize operational strategies and refine marketing campaigns based on real-time feedback. Both organizations have utilized patient communities for several years, and the structure and activities are HIPAA compliant.

“The online patient panel helps us go from an ‘I think’ culture to a ‘we know’ culture that’s based in patient insight,” Mark said. Marketing decisions are more tuned into the audience wants, needs and interests.  “Everyone has their own thoughts and opinions. Not that those are wrong, but they might not be reflective of your target audience.”

Why every hospital can derive value from a patient panel…

“There are many benefits to having a patient community,” Michelle explained. “You can turn around results quickly in order to make business decisions in an extremely timely manner at a huge cost savings per study. We are also able to reach out to specific populations.

“And our panel members do provide robust verbatim comments, they are engaged, and we get a healthy response rate, which makes for a statistically valid sample.”

Hospital facilities can establish their own patient panel or community. It’s high value and relatively low cost. With Dean Clinic, Mark advises: “Begin with the long term in mind. For example, everybody says they are ‘patient centered,’ but what are you doing to capture patient information in a timely basis.

Other topics you’ll hear discussed in this  podcast include:

  • Can smaller hospitals afford to establish and maintain these kinds of online patient communities?
  • What kinds of patients participate in these communities and how participants are qualified and recruited?
  • How Cleveland Clinic and Dean Health use the data and input from online patient panels.
  • Examples of how information is used to refine marketing strategies.
  • How other healthcare organizations can create a patient community.

“We found that a patient community [provides] just-in-time information and statistically valid results, Mark said. “And overall, if you’re looking to stay in front of what’s happening in healthcare reform, an online patient panel can help you do that.”


Check out the presentation by Michelle Frietchen and Mark Rothwell at the 2013 Connections conference of the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development of the American Hospital Association. (Sep 29–Oct 2; Chicago). Michelle and Mark’s presentation, Online Patient Insight Communities, will be Monday, September 30. #shsmd13

And you are invited to meet up with Healthcare Success’ presentation booth #202 on the exhibit floor. Healthcare Success is a full-service healthcare marketing company serving a national clientele of hospitals and outpatient clinics.

RELATED: Additional installments in our continuing series is available on this page of recent interview / podcast posts from Healthcare Success.

Lonnie Hirsch

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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