Saturday, February 2, 2013

Marketing the OHSU Informatics Program

The Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program is undertaking a new marketing campaign. This campaign is, of course, a business decision, but I also find it a great opportunity to spread the word about our program as well as careers in the profession of informatics.

We are especially interested in touting the benefits of education and careers in informatics for younger people. The mid-career individuals who enter our program mostly know well the problems in healthcare and how informatics can address them. But we find that younger people, probably because of their less experience with the healthcare system (and its dysfunction), are not aware of how informatics can not only lead to a rewarding career but also benefit health, improve healthcare delivery, and advance basic and clinical research. There are also opportunities in bioinformatics and computational biology of which they may actually be more aware. The graphic below shows our message.

As such, the focus of this marketing campaign aims at younger people. Not that we do not want to continue to attract the more common mid-career healthcare or other professional who enters the clinical informatics track of our program, but our marketing focus is aimed at those who are younger and probably have little knowledge of healthcare, biomedical research, or genomics. The campaign aims at both of the major tracks in our program, clinical informatics and bioinformatics.

Another reason for the challenge in marketing our program is the complexity of its tracks, degrees and certificates, and other aspects.

An additional message we are promoting concerns the value of our program. We note that while our tuition is comparable with most other programs, we feature a large and world-renowned faculty, great longevity of over 20 years, and nearly 500 alumni who have successfully obtained employment in a wide variety of settings.

The components of the marketing campaign include:
  • A banner ad on - This Web site, run by New York Public Radio, features podcasts on a variety of topics around science and arts. In addition to having the banner add to click-through to our Web site, our program is also acknowledged at the beginning and in the middle of each podcast (here is an example).
  • Print ads in west coast college newspapers - Print ads are a challenge these days, as readership of college newspapers has declined as with all print media. But such ads do still reach our target audience, and will be supplemented by our usual attendance of graduate school fairs and other events at these colleges. The ad we are running is shown above.
  • Google Adwords campaign
  • Ad placement on Web pages via Quantcast
  • Ongoing Webinars - I gave our first Webinar on January 31, 2013, which is available for viewing, along with the slide deck.
Many of these components send interested people to a landing page for the program.

We will see how this translates to new student enrollment, especially among the younger people who will someday be users, implementers, and leaders of the new data-rich, information-driven healthcare system that guides our vision now.


  1. You might try facebook ads too...some organizations success with that with younger (and international) audiences.

    1. Thanks, Kate. We have looked into it, but decided not to pursue it for now.