The right kind of healthcare marketing exposes people to options for a healthier life and loyalty to a service. For eight years, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Hepatitis B campaign has generated more than 474 million impressions across various media outlets.
The CDC’s marketing strategy has enabled partnerships between providers and nationwide health coalitions, ultimately developing an education effort on a national level that has spread awareness of their names and services.
But what happens when healthcare facilities or organizations only have a few months to attract engagement and measure patient leads?
Patients as Consumers of Healthcare
The rise of healthcare costs and the looming competition between providers can make it difficult for facilities to create or expand awareness of their brands or services.
On an administrative level, facilities are taking note on which long-term strategies increase value and focus on more consumer-centric tactics based on market research.
According to the Washington Post, a typical administrative role in a hospital today includes people who manage the reputation of the entire organization and brand. Other facilities have moved their resources to hire Experience Officers tasked with monitoring service reputations online.
Rating sites like Yelp have also increased in influence, according to a study published in Health Affairs. Marketers need to pay close attention to consumer-generated content as much as market research if they want to make a lasting impact.
Alison Pondo, MPH, CPH, Services Line Marketing Manager at Tampa General Hospital, explains that teams don’t refer to people as patients, but as consumers instead.
“Over 80% of consumers are performing online review searches before selecting a doctor or healthcare facility – and they’re going to base that choice off other’s patient experience.”
Her advice to other marketers is to match the healthcare standard to the same level as other streamlined experiences like Amazon Prime’s or Apple’s.
6 Trends in Healthcare Marketing
So, how can healthcare continue to bridge the gap between care and satisfaction to retain patients in the digital age? Across the industry, centers and providers can adopt the following marketing techniques:
- Content Marketing
- Social Media
- Direct-to-Consumer Marketing
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Marketing Engagement
- A Focus on Millennials
Healthcare content marketing allows health-related businesses to educate potential patients through engaging and informational content using search engine optimization (SEO) practices. Optimizing content to appear on the first page in Google search rankings involves answering user’s questions and doing research on what topics are searched the most. Content can take the form of a blog, video or more in-depth forms like eBooks or whitepapers. No matter the content, the goal should be to provide relevant information for people that stumble upon the site and who are likely to turn into a lead for the provider.
Social media marketing can help healthcare facilities expose their services across multiple social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and connect with potential clients. Informative and helpful social media content can enhance patient engagement, too. If someone is looking for health services on a social platform, a social media page can provide an easy path back to their website. Pondo says that a common trend across all industries is video content. She finds that it’s the type of content consumers want to engage with and one marketers should pay attention to “drive affinity and focus” to the brand.
Engagement can also look like a targeted email inviting a discharged patient to complete a patient satisfaction survey, according to Medium. Healthcare facilities can also take advantage of the channel by sending newsletters, appointments reminders and industry news straight to someone’s inbox. To this day, email marketing is still the most preferred channel to promote brands. And for more immediate engagement, facilities are also connecting with patients though mobile text messaging, allowing them to check up on treatments and appointment schedules. The trend is likely to rise in popularity because of its convenience.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems now include more robust platforms that integrate healthcare databases and other information to improve anything from campaigns to accurate identifications of patients in need of care. Effective use of CRM considers patient history, demographics, financial data, etc. to create highly relevant marketing efforts. A Becker’s Hospital Review article notes that successful healthcare CRM requires partnerships with information technology (IT), financial and operations leaders.
Patients have higher expectations as consumers of healthcare. They anticipate more value, as well as good customer service. Marketers can take advantage of the fact by encouraging feedback, collecting and analyzing the data, and letting patients know that they’re heard.
While baby boomers still drive healthcare choices and costs, millennials will soon outnumber them by approximately 7.7 million. Marketers will have to change gears and consider the new generations’ interests and in-depth consumption of health information on the web.
The Future of Healthcare Marketing
Most marketers only target businesses and organizations, but now a focus on households and the individual consumer makes marketing a primary focus of healthcare success, according to the Journal of Life Medicine.
Pondo says this focus on the patient as a consumer is a key focal point for Tampa General’s marketing strategy:
“The patient experience 100% drives everything we do and strategize around in healthcare marketing. In fact, we don’t refer to them as patients very often, but instead as consumers. This perspective is so crucial, especially in today’s world, where our patients are constantly interacting with other organizations and industries that are focused on consumer-driven design and experience.”