Optimizing Marketing and Communication in Healthcare
Episode 372

Hamid Ghanadan, Founder of The Linus Group

Optimizing Marketing and Communication in Healthcare

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Optimizing Marketing and Communication in Healthcare

Episode 372

Recommended Book:

Mindset

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Optimizing Marketing and Communication in Healthcare with Hamid Ghanadan, Founder of The Linus Group | Convert audio-to-text with Sonix

Saul Marquez:
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Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the podcast that I have the privilege of hosting Hamid Ghanadan. He’s the Founder of Linus. Hamid works to break down the barriers between knowledge and humans. He’s spent his career studying the interplay between logic and emotion and how people comprehend technical information. Hamid’s interests include behavioral psychology and behavioral economics and persuasion within highly technical or scientific or clinical environments. He has two books on the topic Persuading Scientists Marketing to the World’s Most Skeptical Audience and Catalytic Experiences Persuading Scientists and Clinicians with Effective Digital Marketing. I love the interest that Hamid has in behavioral psychology and economics and I thought it’d be awesome given the fact that the people listening to this podcast are really focused in this complex arena of healthcare and it really the complex sales cycles as well as cycles to get anything implemented. I thought it’d be great to have Hamid on the podcast to give us some of his insights on human psychology and also economics. So true pleasure to have you on the podcast today Hamid and excited to chat with you.

Hamid Ghanadan:
Thank you. I’m looking forward to it.

Saul Marquez:
So did I leave anything out in the intro that you want to share with listeners?

Hamid Ghanadan:
No you didn’t. I just want to clarify that I hold no degrees in psychology or behavioral economics. Everything that I have done is built on the great works of both academicians as well as anybody who is doing empirical work. And you know we look at this topic empirically at Linus as well so a lot of what I’ve built and a lot of what I talk about is really based on experience. Just wanted to clarify that.

Saul Marquez:
Now that’s a fair comment there. So I appreciate you clarifying. So as we dive in… lot of things that happen on the ground level are really the most impactful. So yeah I feel like the discussion we’ll have is practical. You know you say you draw from empirical experience and some excited the dive into some of the thoughts you have there. What got you into the medical sector?

Hamid Ghanadan:
Well you know my parents really wanted me to become a physician and in my studies I fell in love with science but I really didn’t feel like I had the type of creativity to do seminal work in science. So I brought together the type of creativity that I did feel like I had and brought it to science and healthcare which is really the creativity in communications. And it really started with photography. But you know as I was studying science I had this this thought and this thought is that I believe that science has a usability problem. I mean if you think about it, we apply so much usability designed to so many aspects of our lives today right from the cell phone that’s in our pockets to practically any device that either a physician uses or a patient uses or anywhere in our lives. But as an enterprise I don’t believe that science is very usable. Nobody’s actually been thought about it. There’s a group that is working on and focused on access to science. But in my opinion access is just the first rung of the ladder. Even today science is hard to access. It’s hard to understand. It’s harder still to create utility. And so one of the places where this utility problem manifests in healthcare you know if you think about it there’s so much work being done between the physician and the patient. And of course that’s a really important relationship and a really important interface. But that’s not the entirety of healthcare as you know. So I’m in the medical sector to try to fix this problem so that we can all have better outcomes better health outcomes and maybe even less expensive and more effective healthcare. So at Linus today we do this through communications we I understand as you mentioned in your quite generous bio, we try to understand human behavior and what drives people to action and we try to close that gap just a little bit more and try to close that utility and usability problem that I mention.

Saul Marquez:
Very very very interesting Hamid. So tell us a little bit more. Give us an example of how Linus you and your team there are improving outcomes and making things better by doing them differently.

Hamid Ghanadan:
So here’s an example. The majority of the work that we do is in classical marketing and communications for the medical industry. We launch these new technologies that we launch products we sort of catalyze shifts in the market by creating experiences that drive change as quickly as possible. Change is the key. So many people believe that marketing is about you know making sure your property your market is aware of your products or has the right perception about your products your brand. But in reality in order to make any market adopt any product you need to take some action right and that action is always preceded by some change in thinking or belief or understanding in order for that action to actually happen. So a great marketer will understand exactly what that change is that needs to happen the precursor to the action. It is rarely about a new product or offering. So I’ll give you an example. Several years ago we were working with a company to market a ventilator to hospitals that had a special feature and this feature was instead of a time based trigger to activate each breath there was a sensor that was placed on the patient that basically triggered the ventilator to activate and so it matched the ventilator with the breathing pattern of the specific patient so it eliminated what’s called Patient ventilator a synchrony which can be horrible and agitating for the patient if you think about it. The problem was the providers didn’t really experience this negative outcome. And so they didn’t really care. And so they didn’t really see a need for this new feature. You see what I mean the respiratory technician or the physician they actually didn’t experience a synchrony with the patient who experienced a synchrony what they did and when we did deep market research we also realized that there was an underlying situation as well is that these care providers had another tool in their tool kit to get rid of this problem or at least mask it. They would sedate the patient so if the patient was uncomfortable being on a ventilator they would sedate them. So we needed to create this change in the market’s mind that eliminating a synchrony wasn’t just good for the patient or more comfortable for the patient but it was also helped the hospital with any issues of over sedation. So now we had a clinical case where we were connecting a ventilator to over sedation because of a synchrony. And once we made that connection the market was much more receptive to this product and was much more willing to take action. So the improvement of the health outcomes is really trying to solve a critical issue that’s that’s real in the market which is you know the possibility of over sedation in the hospital. And so while the technology had the raw capacity to do it the communications really created that change that hopefully enabled that you know the decision makers to see that connection and make an take action on it.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. Hamid I think this is a really great topic that you’re bringing up because a lot of people in the in the medical device industry. But I also even say that the digital health space and pharma anybody bringing solutions to the healthcare space will develop some really awesome technologies but missed the mark completely on the message and the example that you’re bringing up here is is a fine example of that. What is it about the message that people miss. That happens a lot. It just happened here and there. It happens a lot. What would you say is the reason for that?

Hamid Ghanadan:
Well you know it’s because most marketers are looking at the world through a single lens which is their own companies view and that companies view may be technology centric and maybe product centric it may be customer centric. I’m not going to make a guess but in order to develop a message that truly resonates you actually need to really survey the landscapes from three critical vantage points, from your company’s point of view, from the market or the customer’s point of view. And the more human you get with that customer view the better. So the market view and the customer view are a little bit different in that the market view may talk about the market’s growing at this percent and these are the critical factors but a customer’s daily lives may tell you a very different story. And so you need to investigate it from that perspective. And then the third perspective is the competitive landscape as well because as. Messages don’t live in a vacuum and they don’t get delivered to sort of an empty brain. These people are being exposed to experiences every day. And so I think that’s really a critical part of it is this a situation analysis that takes those three different vantage points to come up with some actionable insight. Then once you had that actionable insight it’s like “oh the a synchrony problem is masked because everyone’s sedating the patient.” That was the actionable insight and from there everything else builds. It takes a little bit more work but it’s so much more rewarding and so much more effective.

Saul Marquez:
Hamid, love the example and you said a little more work and that little extra work is what the extra mile is all about. And there is no traffic in the extra mile. Love that saying because it’s true. And I would also say Hamid that the stuff that you’re talking about is so important. A lot of people need to begin this process. Even during the product development stage. Not after it’s done.

Hamid Ghanadan:
Absolutely. I’ve had the privilege of working with some companies that are up stream of you know in the product development phase and essentially they’re constantly testing their feature set. For example I worked several years ago with a company that was creating an imaging system so a very fancy microscope system and they came up with. Okay. They essentially were sort of maybe about a third of the way into their development and they shared their original intention and how the product was evolving through development. And we went out and tested the product and we came back and said “you know 60% of this this feature set that you have is really good. But the other 40% actually masks it and it’s going to drive costs.” And people don’t care about this other 40%of the feature set. And so we recommend not putting this product out as as you have it on your development path. And you know I mean you can see that in a situation like that it would save time it would save costs it would get the product to market faster and it has a higher chance of success because the feature set is really what the product what the market said they wanted or what they found attractive about it.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. Yeah that’s so true. So I know that a lot of this conversation is resonating with you right now. So don’t be afraid to hit the pause button take some notes down hit rewind. This is real stuff and really the blocking and tackling that’s going to help you be successful in healthcare space as it relates to product, product development product marketing so really really great insights from Hamid here. Tell us about a time when you had a setback and what you learned from that Hamid.

Hamid Ghanadan:
That’s an interesting question I actually think about setbacks as their failures and their mistakes. Because I see mistakes and failures as to different things and in some context I believe that failures lead the way or protect you from making mistakes. So let me explain that. In marketing, my job is to innovate for my clients and our clients expect this that we provide them with something that’s fresh, that’s unique, that’s never been done before, that deliver results beyond what they’ve seen or experienced through other approaches. And so we are constantly experimenting and to be honest, we’re constantly failing as well as succeeding. You know so daily failures are for me is okay. Now my job also is to mitigate risk of failure for my clients. So in this constant experimentation we test new ideas so that we can avoid mistakes. So to me a failure is okay because it’s part of our job. A mistake is if we fail to mitigate the risk for our clients you see what I mean.

Saul Marquez:
I do.

Hamid Ghanadan:
And so failures happen pretty often to be honest with you but they keep from making those mistakes. So here’s an example of a failure we develop value propositions for medical devices, for scientific instruments, for products and services, for therapeutics. So as we’re developing these value propositions we also test them rigorously. So we have a method that we apply and market research to test whether this value proposition is going to be good. So we’re in this process we’re doing this for a medical device and we’re finding it actually really difficult to recruit the right target audience to even test the value proposition. That’s a failure. But this failure because I mean why is that a failure. Because now we have to spend more on I mean Linus has to spend more money to go back and try to recruit the right target audience. It’s now introducing a time delay for this all kind of failure you can think about all kinds of sort of quote unquote failures but this failure by itself is really telling because if it’s hard for us to recruit through marketing channels to a particular target audience. If that targeting strategy won’t work for a test case it’s certainly not going to work once our client is ready to go so we had to go back and rethink our entire value proposition because value propositions are also sort of channel specific. And so we decided to broaden the value proposition so that we could bring the message to a broader target market and then segment them post facto. So we experienced this failure but we saved us from avoiding a mistake of a poorly performing go to market strategy. You see what I mean. So and look believe me I’ve made mistakes in my life as well but I actually see failures as just a stepping stone to something that’s better.

Saul Marquez:
Hey that’s pretty cool. It’s a good way to frame it and folks so Hamid’s been in the business for over two decades. You know some fascinating experiences he’s seen a lot done a lot. So when you spend that much time in the business you sort of have to think about these things differently to stay in the game and framing it as failure versus mistake, failures part of it. And that’s part of the DNA that daily natural actions are what we do. If you’re curious about his work and the services he provides check him out he’s got an awesome website with everything that they’ve done. It’s the linusgroup.com. So don’t forget to check that out. We’ll also include that link in the show notes. Linus you’ve done a lot. What’s one of the proudest leadership experiences you’ve had in our space to date?

Hamid Ghanadan:
So I’ve got to if you don’t mind I’ll share them with you. So we were lucky enough to produce a film for a client of ours last year and we brought together this patient of a very rare disease to meet the scientist who actually worked on the therapy that saved her life. She was nine years old. She’s the cutest, most tenacious wonderful person you’ll ever meet. I mean she’s just lovely and we actually secured the Rockefeller Center in New York City. She lives in the Midwest and so she with her parents came out to New York City and and we basically rented where we got the Rockefeller Center because she’d never ice skated before. And she thought it would be great to try it because she’s so tenacious and we thought it’d be a great backdrop of bringing the scientists together with her. So they’re together we’re filming this and it’s just so heartwarming and amazing. But after ice skating together, she’s sitting around the table with her parents and the scientists and she and they’re all drinking hot cocoa and they’re warming up and she looks up at the scientist and says just a very clear look on her face. She says “thank you for saving my life.” The nine year old girl. No one could speak.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah.

Hamid Ghanadan:
Because everyone was just so moved to the core of their humanity and I was so grateful just to be there. But it made me proud of what I do because I was able to peel back so much and when I say I the team you know are amazing director, our producer, our everyone who’s worked on this was just able to peel back something technical to the core of just being humans and it was an amazing moment. That’s one that I’m just so proud of. And this film is just beautiful. I mean it’s so moving. The other time when I feel really proud is actually every time I get an email or a message from someone who says I read one of your books or I’ve seen your talk and it’s helped me in my career I can’t really express with words just how proud or grateful I feel when I receive this. That’s a think that I’ve. In some small way either nudge someone or help someone either make a shift in their career or launch their career or make their career a little bit better. That to me is the ultimate satisfaction that I get because you know writing a book is not easy but it’s also not a life changing thing you know and so it’s those small moments that I just feel so grateful for being able to do what I do.

Saul Marquez:
Some great examples definitely hear the passionate in your voice Hamid and love the earth your amazing way to contribute and do more for others. Tell us about an exciting project or focus you’re working on today.

Hamid Ghanadan:
So as you mentioned you know I’m really interested in behavior, human behavior and we’ve just launched a video series called Catalytic Results. And once a month we produce a video, a very short video maybe three to four minutes and it talks about a single different human behavior or heuristic. And we talk about why it’s important and how it plays either positively or negatively in science or healthcare and how it could be used. I’m really excited about it. We talk about things like stereotypes. We talk about priming. We talk about the availability of examples in someone’s mind. We talk about all different kinds of nudges like scarcity. What is scarcity due to the human behavior. And basically we bring it always back to an example in healthcare and I’m very excited about bringing this more human aspect to the healthcare discourse because I just do believe that there are low hanging fruit you know within healthcare by just understanding how humans tend to make decisions and how we can all move toward a better healthier outcome.

Saul Marquez:
So for the folks listening whether you be a marketer salesperson or a leader in an organization selling ideas. Ultimately these nudges you’re the catalyst. And so Hamid if they wanted to keep up with these videos that you’re doing, where would they get them?

Hamid Ghanadan:
So on our website or if anybody follows me on LinkedIn I tend to post them on LinkedIn. The Linus group’s wesite has them. The Linus group’s LinkedIn group has them and then we also have a YouTube channel. So they’re all going to be in those three different places every month. We’re releasing one more video. We’ve already recorded eight and we’ve released the first one in January so the second one’s coming out next week and we’re moving forward with that.

Saul Marquez:
That’s awesome. So there you have it folks. If you want to get some insights check it out. Definitely worth your while. Let’s pretend you and I are building a course on marketing in healthcare to improve outcomes. So Hamid I’ve got some lightning around questions for you and then we’re gonna conclude those with the favorite book for the listeners you ready?

Hamid Ghanadan:
Go for it.

Saul Marquez:
All right. What’s the best way to improve healthcare outcomes?

Hamid Ghanadan:
Well I think that considering that humans don’t always act rationally but they behave in predictable ways.

Saul Marquez:
What is the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?

Hamid Ghanadan:
That getting the technology launched is the end of the race. It’s actually the beginning of the race.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?

Hamid Ghanadan:
As individuals I always recommend that spending less time on social media and doing more reading. So when I say reading I mean books, articles, journal articles, and just really thought provoking analysis.

Saul Marquez:
Very cool. What’s one area of focus that drives everything in your organization?

Hamid Ghanadan:
So we have a saying at Linus and this is actually a quote that was on the wall for a long time. It’s a quote from a Nobel Laureate and it says “discovery consists of seeing what everyone else is seeing but thinking what no one else’s thought.” Always look at the problem through a fresh beginner’s eyes and you’ll see something new.

Saul Marquez:
That’s awesome. Love that quote. Why do you guys take it off?

Hamid Ghanadan:
I think it was just the furniture change it wasn’t that it was no longer relevant. I think I got to know staying fresh.

Saul Marquez:
Now I get it. Yeah. You’ve got to change it up. These last two meet are a little more personal. What’s your number one health habit?

Hamid Ghanadan:
So I live in Boulder Colorado and if you know anything about Boulder Colorado I’d love to trail run at altitude. I also do Alpine or Alpine and Nordic skiing and Imma a road bike.

Saul Marquez:
Good for you. You’re living well, living well.

Hamid Ghanadan:
I feel so grateful.

Saul Marquez:
I had the opportunity to chat with the hospital CEO in the area and he tells me that there’s really some of the lowest heart conditions there any heart failure heart disease. A lot of it tends to be orthopedic hip stuff because of the very active culture there.

Hamid Ghanadan:
Oh yeah absolutely. I’ve got I’ve got a shoulder tweak right now that I’m gonna go check out tomorrow but you know on the other hand I just went for my checkup and I asked my physician. “You want me to take… do you want to look at my cholesterol or triglycerides?” and she said “you know Hamid you’re less than 1% chance of developing heart disease. So no I don’t want to bother with that.” Look at your shoulder.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. That’s awesome. Case in point right. And what is your number one success habit?

Hamid Ghanadan:
Well I don’t know if this is a success habit or not but I listened to a wide variety of podcasts when I run. Even when I’m racing I listen to podcasts a lot of people listen to music but I listen to podcasts because it just as you’re exercising and is your breathing hard. Your mind is coming up with new notions and new ideas and it has to be a really wide variety so I don’t just listen to business podcasts like yours. I do listen to those but I also listen to different storytelling ones or world economic ones or history or you know just because having that wide variety of inputs really helps me think hopefully new ideas.

Saul Marquez:
Love it, what a great habit. So what book would you recommend to the listeners aside from persuading scientists as well as catalytic experiences which by the way folks we’ll put links to Hamid’s books in the show notes. So don’t worry about not knowing what they are. You’ll see a link there. But what book would you recommend aside from your two books?

Hamid Ghanadan:
Oh my God. So the book Mindset by Carol Dweck who is a professor of psychology at Stanford. It absolutely changed my life personally and professionally. I cannot recommend that book enough.

Saul Marquez:
So what was the one pearl that was the most insightful if you could remember.

Hamid Ghanadan:
Of course so the entire thesis is that there are two types of mindsets and these are actually set by your environment and you can control them. One is a fixed mindset and then the other one is a growth mindset. So Fixed mindset really sets in early on when people are saying oh you’re so smart or oh you’re so pretty or you’re all you’re so this and that when they create that ceiling, then the person or the child when they start to experience something that’s beyond their capability they immediately shut themselves down because they had this fixed mindset of saying oh this is beyond my capability or beyond my ability to control. And a lot of negative behavior comes from that whereas a growth mindset if you’re actually looking and praising effort then that person once they come face to face with something that’s more difficult than they’ve ever experienced before they get enjoyment out of the effort of going beyond and solving the problem or overcoming the hurdle. So it really allows for expanding the potential of the human. And this you know again so I’m a parent. This changed my my outlook on parenting. I mean a whole bunch of different kinds of relationships you know work, with clients, and it changed the way I think about relationships as well as it changed the way I think about you know the actual work that I do.

Saul Marquez:
Very cool. Love that synopsis. So definitely one that you’ll want to pick up folks. It’s on my list. Put it on your list to get those insights and get even deeper with the idea. Hamid, this has been a ton of fun. I love if you could just leave us with a closing thought and then the best place for the listeners could get in touch with you.

Hamid Ghanadan:
Yeah. So I’ll give you my closing thought. This is the closing of all my videos that really humans are complex but in a very beautiful and predictive ways. And if we can understand those ways then we can actually help create new connections with our audiences and create better results. Create what we call catalytic results for our clients or for the industry as a whole. And you know like I said I would love for your listeners to connect with me on LinkedIn or just send me a message through the Linus group. There’s ways to get in touch with me there. I always love a good conversation. So this has been an amazing conversation and I would love to have conversations with any of your listeners if they’re interested.

Saul Marquez:
Outstanding. They have it folks take the invitation. Reach out and Hamid just want to say thanks again for spending time with us. It’s been fun.

Hamid Ghanadan:
It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much. It’s been really fun.

Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.com for the show notes, resources, inspiration, and so much more.

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