Case Study: Healthcare IT
TECHMarket Communications provided Portico Systems with a high-powered integrated communications approach to branding, including content generation, a syndication engine, thought leadership mentoring, media outreach and story placement. In the healthcare IT vertical alone, they netted 49 unique news articles and 145 commentaries, and social media interactions increased by nearly 400% – and all within the first two quarters. Increased awareness in the marketplace helped set the stage for the eventual acquisition of Portico by McKesson.
Small healthcare IT companies do not form because they have small ideas. They have big ideas and big goals. But they often lack a big voice with which to express those ideas and to capture the ear of those whom they want to hear those ideas.
Such was the situation for Portico Systems, a Blue Bell, PA-based healthcare IT firm that had developed a suite of technologies that health plans could use to create and manage networks of healthcare providers. With integrated provider management tools from Portico, a health plan could, more easily than ever, manage the design, maintenance, reimbursement and performance of value-based provider networks. Optimizing these networks could help a plan lower costs and improve outcomes.
Conveying that message to potential clients, though, was a huge challenge. Portico had a four-person marketing team, and it had been relying on a local PR firm to help publicize events and to issue press releases about technical breakthroughs and new products. The company was getting messages out the door, but these messages were not driving traffic back in the door.
“We had reached a point where we’d built the planks of our thought leadership,” recalls Robert Capobianco, the director of marketing for Portico. “We knew the messages we needed to convey, but we needed a way to amplify those messages so that we could capture the mindshare we wanted.”
Portico engaged TECHMarket Communications to take over the PR function – and quickly discovered that TECHMarket brought more to the table than the ability to push out polished press releases.
“Until we started working with TECHMarket, Portico had always thought about content at an opportunistic level, but TECHMarket helped us start to look at content in terms of a content plan. Here are the stories…here’s how we’re going to roll this out. TECHMarket is excellent at turning a paragraph into a page, a page into a brief, a brief into a white paper, and then into an eBook. They helped me start thinking about content independent of activity, and that’s a fundamental shift for anyone that wants to think more strategically in marketing.”
TECHMarket also helped Portico develop an integrated strategy for conveying its story into the marketplace. Press releases were tied to blogs; blogs were connected to white papers and eBooks; and everything was tied into the newly emerging world of social media. Because TECHMarket Communications already possessed expertise in the healthcare IT space and had turnkey systems it could deploy to promote a client’s presence online, it took only days to roll out a comprehensive, integrated approach for social media engagement.
“When Portico started working with TECHMarket, we had almost nothing in the social media space,” says Capobianco. “We had a poor-man’s Facebook page and a LinkedIn presence that wasn’t linked to anything. We were using Twitter – but tweeting as individuals, not as a company.
“TECHMarket came in and changed all that,” he continues. “Within three weeks of engaging TECHMarket, they had launched our corporate Twitter handle, built Twitter lists for laser-focused engagement, and optimized our presence on Facebook and LinkedIn. All of a sudden, we were actively engaging with our audience and publishing content through the system that TECHMarket Communications had set up. Social media had become a piece of Portico that seemed completely natural, as if it had always existed. Social media proved to be a huge win for us, and that was entirely due to the expertise and the insight that TECHMarket brought in.”
Numbers can quantifiably express some of the benefits of the Portico relationship with TECHMarket Communications:
- Twitter click-throughs driving visitors to the Portico website grew 388% in 6 months.
- Daily News Feed Facebook Impressions (fans + non-fans) grew 311% in 6 months.
- Unique news articles in healthcare IT publications: 49 new articles in first 6 months.
- Healthcare IT commentaries: 145 unique commentaries in first 6 months.
But the numbers tell only a portion of the broader benefits story. The combination of branding and healthcare IT expertise that TECHMarket brought to Portico proved to be enormously important. In social media, for example, TECHMarket helped Portico completely redefine its target audience.
“Our customers were not going to be moved to buy our products based on anything they saw from us in social media,” says Capobianco, “but they would be moved by insights from analysts and the press. So TECHMarket helped us refocus our social media efforts with that audience in mind. We fed content into the world of social media with an eye towards getting the attention of the press and the analysts, who, in turn, became interested in writing about us in more detail.
“Most people publish a social media post and they never know what happens to it,” Capobianco continues. “TECHMarket would come back and say ‘this person liked your tweet’ or ‘here is where it went’ or ‘here it was re-tweeted, and here’s how you engaged.’ They even studied what types of posts were optimized for what time of day. The clarity of their reporting on social media was a huge value to us. They showed us how we could engage with an audience through social media in truly meaningful ways.”
Message amplification in action
One effect of this targeted use of social media was evident at the last AHIP conference Portico attended. “We had more media interviews – and more inquiries from editors we’d never even talked to before – than we had ever had in the past,” says Capobianco, “and that was largely due to what TECHMarket Communications had us doing on social media.
“Using social media as part of the integrated marketing and PR strategy that TECHMarket was driving enabled me to amplify the Portico voice to an astonishing degree. We appeared so much bigger than we were. There was a perception in the marketplace that we had a monster marketing organization because our message was everywhere – but in reality we had a four-person marketing team.”
Perception, though, proved to be more important. By 2010, the Portico name had become synonymous with integrated provider management. “Nobody could touch Portico in the integrated provider management space,” recalls Capobianco. “We owned that space. We were provider management. Even if you were a huge, established company like a McKesson or a Trizetto, in a competitive situation, you competed against us, not the other way around.”
That position had been the one to which Portico had aspired, and what followed was the envy of all venture capital-backed startups: Healthcare IT giant McKesson reached out and acquired Portico in 2011 – in a cash deal valued at more than three times Portico’s annual revenues and four times EBITDA.
“Market perception is what TECHMarket helped us own,” says Capobianco. “We looked like giants because of TECHMarket, and our acquisition by McKesson is a testament to that. Our technology was good, but our story is what sold us. We evangelized and made people believe, and TECHMarket played a huge role in that.”
Profile: Portico Systems is exclusively focused on empowering health plans to transform the performance of their networks, while significantly reducing medical, administrative and IT costs. Its Integrated Provider Management (IPM) platform simplifies the design, maintenance, reimbursement, and performance management of provider networks while facilitating provider-patient collaboration. Typical results include a 25-35% administrative cost reduction, a 10-20% provider satisfaction increase and a 1-5% improvement in network performance. Portico Systems is a partner company of Safeguard Scientifics, Inc. (NYSE: SFE) www.safeguard.com. Portico is an Edison Ventures (www.edisonventures.com) portfolio company. For more information on Portico Systems, visit www.porticosys.com
Profile: McKesson Corporation, currently ranked 14th on the FORTUNE 500, is a healthcare services and information technology company dedicated to making the business of healthcare run better. We partner with payers, hospitals, physician offices, pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies and others across the spectrum of care to build healthier organizations that deliver better care to patients in every setting. McKesson helps its customers improve their financial, operational, and clinical performance with solutions that include pharmaceutical and medical-surgical supply management, healthcare information technology, and business and clinical services. For more information, visit us at www.mckesson.com.