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Review | Joe Public Doesn't Care About Your Hospital

Posted by cynthiamanley, Tue, Feb 10 at 5:55pm CST

JoePublic.CoverJoe Public Doesn’t Care About Your Hospital
Author: Chris Bevolo
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Publisher: RockBench, 2011

A decade ago, when I became the communications and marketing officer for Vanderbilt’s cancer center, I faced frustration that I couldn’t put into words.

I was caught between physicians asking for billboards, newspaper advertising and radio messaging, and an audience mostly made up of people who were not in the market for cancer services. We were marketing “a sick service to a well audience.”

At the same time, I faced resistance to online search marketing because, as our leaders pointed out, the average age of cancer diagnosis was 67 and “those people aren’t online.”

Yes, I argued, but most of those people are already going to follow their physicians’ advice, but those whose decisions we can influence, and influence directly, are online.

So, as we say in the South, “the choir said ‘amen’” when I read healthcare marketing strategist Chris Bevolo’s book, Joe Public Doesn’t Care About Your Hospital. In this “Manifesto for Transforming Healthcare Marketing,” Bevolo articulates my challenge – and offers solutions – in ways I was never able to on my own.

Bevolo calls us to transform how we market healthcare. He starts with confronting the reality that individuals seeking medical care basically don’t give a hoot about us. Our awards? Don’t care. Our hot-shot new surgeon? Don’t care. Our new gee-whiz gizmo? Don’t care. Our board-certified blah-dee-blahs and our high-tech, high-touch continuum of care close to home? Do. Not. Care.

Instead, Bevolo invites us to think about our audience not as patients, but as people who might become patients. He encourages healthcare marketers to find ways to connect with people first, through digital/content marketing and social media.

Bevolo gets it – and us.

He knows we sometimes end up making marketing decisions based on internal politics. (C’mon, you know you do.) He understands that opposing a powerful physician may be career-limiting; putting it most generously. He hears us when we say, “Yes, Chris, but patient volumes in total are down in XYZ clinic and we have to do something now.”

In Joe Public, Bevolo offers strategies for taking the small incremental steps and measuring results that will help us take bigger bolder ones down the line. He also warns us that as we embrace the idea that Joe Public doesn’t care, we may experience something like the Five Stages of Grief à la Kübler-Ross.

True enough. And I can personally affirm that acceptance is within reach. Initially, the idea that Joe Public doesn’t care like I once believed, was depressing. But once I accepted it, a world of possibilities opened up, allowing me to connect with people and patients like never before.

Cynthia Floyd Manley is a director of strategic marketing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and serves on the External Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

Tags: Chris Bevolo, Cynthia Floyd Manley, healthcare marketing, hospital marketing

drdeborahfisher, amandachanguris, westr and 3 others like this

Posted by jkennedy93, Wed, Feb 11 at 12:48pm CST

Great review, Cynthia. We're starting to get the Choir on the same page! Will you be doing a follow-up review of Chris Bevolo's second book, "JOE PUBLIC II -
Embracing the new paradigm?" This one is intended to be the "how-to" follow-up.

cynthiamanley likes this

Posted by cynthiamanley, Wed, Feb 11 at 4:33pm CST

I actually read Joe Public II first and it is great and even more practical. I think someone else is already on deck, so to speak, to review it soon. (And our fellow Network member and advisory board member Chris Boyer is cited in both as a model of best practice).


Posted by hagm04, Thu, Feb 12 at 9:01am CST

Dear Cynthia,

I am going to order the book right now alone with book 1. My name if Linda
Hageman, RN and I started and am Executive Director of a rare disease called
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN).I met Lee several years ago and became a
MCSM member. Lee speaks highly of you and I live in Knoxville. I come to
Vanderbilt regularly for health specialist at Vanderbilt.

Our Website is called American Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Support and our
newly designed website is of which we are down right now
for new update.

We also have a FB Closed Group, American Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia
Support. We are thinking about taking this FB Grp. down after the new
website is up. I would love to meet you sometime when I am in Nashville.
What do you think about a nonprofit maintaining a strong FB and Social media
presence, when the website will allow for comments and a community page that
individuals can post on?

The Best of Health,



Posted by Lisa_Ramshaw, Wed, Feb 11 at 4:29pm CST

Great review Cynthia. I recently bought both of Chris' books and am waiting for the international shipping from Amazon to get them here! (Yes, I know I could have bought the kindle edition but there's something about referring to a hard copy that I can't break!) Can't wait to delve in after reading your review!


Posted by cynthiamanley, Wed, Feb 11 at 4:31pm CST

I know. Being able to underline things and use post-its to mark spots I want to reference is more satisfying than virtual bookmarks!


Posted by jkennedy93, Wed, Feb 11 at 4:38pm CST

Plus I was able to put in my boss's hands and he found it very helpful. He forget to get Chris to autograph them at SHSMD though...


Posted by DanHinmon, Wed, Feb 11 at 7:07pm CST

And the choir says "amen" about both Bevelo's book and your excellent review. What a great reminder of what we all need to be doing. Thanks!


Posted by cynthiamanley, Thu, Feb 12 at 12:37pm CST

One of my colleagues has suggested that we pass out copies of the book to med students at their white coat ceremony!

amandachanguris likes this

Posted by westr, Fri, Feb 13 at 11:49am CST

This is good. Will tweet it.

pfanderson likes this

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