BrightWhistle Helps Healthcare Providers Acquire New Patients through Search and Social Media

Image 1: BrightWhistle booth during a conference. Image 2: BrightWhistle team.

Company Profile

The sea change occurring in the healthcare industry is driving hospitals and physicians to rethink how they design their marketing strategies to reach potential patients.  Rather than relying solely on referrals and reputation, today the goal is to target specific groups of people with relevant messages at the critical moment when they are choosing a provider. BrightWhistle, an Atlanta-based startup and recent graduate of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech, is in the business of doing just that – connecting the healthcare system with the patient at the exact time the patient needs help. The company, founded in 2010, offers software that helps hospitals, health insurers and physicians acquire new patients through search and social media.


BrightWhistle co-founders Greg Foster and Chuck Mallory met through a mutual friend at just the right time.  Foster wanted to get back into running a startup after a stint as a venture capitalist, and Mallory had just sold his company and was looking for a new entrepreneurial opportunity.  Combining their interests in automating online lead generation and customer acquisition, the two formed BrightWhistle. The company’s focus:  building a scalable, cost-effective digital marketing platform to attract, target and qualify prospects through the use of educational content and convert them into new customers. “At that point, we were still searching for a vertical market for which there was a big, deep problem that needed a real solution and for which there was a high willingness to pay,” said Foster.  “The healthcare industry fit that description.”


The company’s first big break came when a general surgeon with startup experience introduced Foster and Mallory to the chief marketing officer for Piedmont Healthcare. BrightWhisthle worked with Piedmont in two key areas.  First, the company wanted to make sure that Piedmont’s physicians, service lines and locations were correctly listed on the dozens of general and healthcare search sites and online directories – what the company calls social perception management. BrightWhistle also developed automated, online campaigns to help Piedmont acquire highly-qualified new patients – or, in the company’s parlance, social persuasion management, which takes clients well beyond traditional marketing.  Foster notes that healthcare decisions today are relyon the information in places where people are spending much more time – social media and content-laden search engines. BrightWhistle works with clients to develop descriptions of target patients based on medical need and an array of demographics.  The company then generates and manages multiple, scalable, targeted ad campaigns in search and social media. When a person clicks on the ad, the potential patient is taken to a conversion environment where they are given several pages of information that correspond to their medical interest.  They then make a decision whether to connect to our healthcare client. “Because our system is HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] compliant, we are able to store names and how we found them,” said Foster.  “If the client tells us this was an ‘ideal patient,’ we analyze how and where we identified them and continuously try to convert more like them.  If the client tells us we missed the mark with this individual, our system weeds out others like them.”


BrightWhistle has grown rapidly.  Today the company:

  • Works with 25 clients in 18 states
  • Is part of the Facebook Ads Preferred Marketing Developer program
  • Partners with a company that sells enterprise systems software to the healthcare industry and is a reseller for BrightWhistle


ATDC has played an important role in BrightWhistle’s success. “The access to top notch people that ATDC provides is key,” Mallory said.  “About half of our employees are Georgia Tech grads, and ATDC’s entrepreneurs-in-residence and staff are always ready with critical advice.”  Being surrounded by other startups and having your company in the Class A space that ATDC manages also are pluses, according to Mallory.  “It lets us concentrate on the business and think less about operations and other things that might have taken up a lot of our time,” he said.