free strategy session

Agents of Change: An Interview of Healthcare Marketing

Date published: June 01, 2018
Last updated: June 1, 2018


Jared Johnson is a digital health marketing pro, a keynote speaker, entrepreneur, manager, and author. It’s safe to say that when it comes to the world of digital health marketing, he does a bit of everything.

In 2016, Onalytica named him a Digital Health Top 100 Influencer and he was named #32 on the 2016 #HIT100, a crowdsourced list of the top social media influencers in health IT.

He is the founder of Ultera Digital, a lean digital marketing consulting team serving health IT companies, health care providers and growing technology businesses. The Ultera Digital team provide content marketing, mobile development and reputation management solutions to dozens of clients.

Jared is the author of Connect the Docs: Put Digital Health into Practice and he currently serves as the manager of marketing technology and analytics at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. He also hosts the Healthcare Rap podcast with his colleague Peter Balistrieri. In it, they talk (and rap) about reinventing marketing technology.

We were lucky enough to chat with Jared about his many projects, healthcare marketing trends, SEO, podcasting, video marketing, and more. Continue the conversation in the comments below and let us know who you’d like to see us interview next!

[bctt tweet="Digital health marketer, author, and keynote speaker Jared Johnson talks Ultera Digital, #contentmarketing trends, and 'Healthcare Rap' in this exclusive Relevance interview." username="relevance"]


What inspired you to pursue digital health marketing as a career?

It’s the natural place I found myself with passions for healthcare, marketing and technology. It’s funny because digital health marketing didn’t exist when I was in school, and I’m not that old.

You're been ranked as a top 100 digital health influencer by Onalytica. What influencers, marketing or otherwise, have influenced you over the years?

Jay Baer, Scott Stratten, “e-Patient Dave” deBronkart, John Lynn, Nick Adkins, Dr. Justin Smith, and many, many others who dare us to look at marketing differently.

What's your favorite book?

YouTility by Jay Baer transformed my entire approach to marketing. It talks about how our marketing should focus on help, not hype, in order to truly influence the relationships that matter to our business.

Your company Ultera Digital is a digital marketing firm that serves health IT companies, health care providers, and growing tech businesses. What was the driving force behind this organization?

My focus is keynote speaking for healthcare conferences and organizations that are looking to pivot their digital marketing for the future. I founded Ultera as a digital marketing consulting firm.

Your book, Connect the Dots: Put Digital Health into Practice is a collection of 20 conversations with healthcare thought leaders. Long after people finish your book, what do you hope sticks with them?

Perhaps the biggest "Eureka" moment was that patient engagement can – and ought to – be one of your most significant marketing strategies. Marketing, PR, IT, customer service and clinical teams can debate who owns each digital touch point, or they can collaborate to create elite, personalized, digital experiences.

The second is that empathy for providers can go a long way. Doctors just want to be left alone to practice medicine. A majority of them are willing to try digital health. And this can be some of your best hospital marketing if you help them rather than ignore them, compete with them, or shut them down.

You're a keynote speaker and have been so for almost four years. Do you have a memorable keynote or conference moment?

The first time I performed a rap in front of a large crowd, for the Ragan Healthcare Communicators Conference at Johns Hopkins. I felt like it truly broke the ice and allowed my presentation to resonate with the audience in a whole new way (once I got over how scared I was).

What digital health tech trends should marketers be paying attention to this year?

On the marketing side, I see voice service – Alexa skills, Google Assistant, etc. – as a significant disruptive force. I love the blending of search marketing and the Internet of Things.

On the technology side, blockchain fascinates me. It might take a few more years to wrap my mind around it, but it is unique in that it can be used for both cybersecurity and peer-to-peer marketing.

Also Read: Mariah Obiedzinski on Medtouch, Content Marketing Trends, and the Importance of Being Creative

Are there any content marketing trends making the rounds in healthcare?

Digital engagement is now essential to health care success and can no longer be ignored by any brand that wants to be taken seriously. It is essential because most Americans are begging for someone to guide them through the new healthcare landscape.

Most people are pleading for someone to take them by the hand and guide them through the information overload to find answers to simple questions: what is my condition, who can treat it, who has good bedside manner, where is their office, is there a new technology for it, and do they take my insurance? The best healthcare content marketing should answer these questions in an engaging way. We have a long way to go.

What is the state of SEO in digital health marketing today?

There aren’t really any SEO shortcuts anymore. The only way to get on page one on Google is to have amazing content, amazing on-page SEO (markup), and amazing off-page SEO (links). You have to pick and choose strategically which pages and/or key phrases you want to target.

Video marketing is becoming increasingly popular and more and more marketers are using it to connect with their audiences and peers. How much time do you think marketers should invest in video? Do you think there's a strong future for it?

For most teams, video is likely to be the single largest investment for the foreseeable future. We have saturated the Internet with written content – blogs, etc. It will take a pivot in strategy and team structure to be able to create high-quality video on a regular basis, but it is necessary to win the attention game. To be successful, you’ll have to reduce resources from other challenges because it takes a lot of time and budget to do it right!

Also Read: The Case AGAINST Video Marketing: A Conversation with Kate Bradley Chernis

How do you think marketers working in the healthcare industry can use storytelling to improve digital health?

I think most healthcare entities are still struggling to understand how they can win trust by being transparent and authentic. Our storytelling should make healthcare less scary, more accessible, more convenient and more human.

You host a podcast called 'Healthcare Rap' and it's pretty fantastic. Podcast popularity is soaring and many marketers are interested in exploring it but may not know where to start. What tips would you give to marketers looking to start podcasting for the first time?

The biggest resource challenge is audio editing, so either learn to do it well or budget for someone else to do it. Listen to your episodes after you have published them and practice your vocal intonations. Repurpose content. I transcribed my first program’s weekly episodes into blog posts and collected the greatest hits into a book.

What tips would you give to young professionals looking to pursue marketing as a career?

We scarcely understand the potential of great healthcare content marketing to change the world. It can counteract bad health information. Connects patients to caregivers and it can make consumers aware of new technologies. It can help us take care of ourselves.

See yourself as an agent of change, and you’ll naturally find more meaning in your marketing.

Last but not least, do you have any current or upcoming projects you'd like to talk about?

I co-host the Healthcare Rap podcast with my colleague Peter Balistrieri. We have a lot of fun talking (and rapping) about changing the status quo in marketing and technology. Subscribe at I am always looking for keynote speaking opportunities, where I perform my raps live. Hit me up at @jaredpiano on Twitter.

Privacy PolicyCookie Policy
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram