The demise of Google Health is, to some, further proof that the health-IT hype-cycle has ebbed.  Yet a tide of real money is starting to wash into the sector. Whether it is government-led spending on electronic health records and exchanges; or payer-driven initiatives to control spiraling costs, the fact is that the sector is energized and expanding.

As a public relations firm with a health IT practice group, we have witnessed a parallel uptick in media and blogosphere interest in the space. Notably, writers are hungry for IT implementation stories (as opposed to ‘idea stories’ about the promises of IT adoption).

Now is an ideal time for health IT providers to round up those customer stories and push them into the spotlight. Some behind-the-scenes tips for finding happy customers and promoting their stories:

  • Incentivize the sales force to share customer success stories – they have direct customer contact and often know which customers are buzzing with satisfaction. But sales types are usually not prone to share that insight in a methodical way. A simple program that rewards sales pros whenever one of their customers becomes a documented case study can be productive.
  • Document ROI, but also document the decision process. How did the customer come to invest in your solution over others? An account of the evaluation criteria, internal debates, and vendor negotiation can be powerful PR material.
  • Shower them with awards. The healthcare industry, and in particular the health IT sector, is full of awards for health organizations and leaders who have achieved something remarkable – often with technology. All you need is your customer’s permission to nominate them – there’s really no work on their part other than accept the award, and thanking all who made it possible.
  • Put them on stage – as with awards, health conferences book-end users over vendors by a ratio of about 10-to-1. Take advantage of this fact and nominate your happiest customers as panelists or even keynotes.
  • Arrange for your customer to be a guest blogger – either on an industry blog or your corporate blog.  Even better, offer to ghost write it for them – this makes it easier for them to agree, and gives you some influence over the main points.

Tapping satisfied, successful customers offers the opportunity for a tenfold increase in the number of exposure opportunities for your brand. Although your customers will be in the direct spotlight, their endorsement of your contributions will make the PR investment worth every dime.