The healthcare provider landscape is transforming radically. While that means changes for both patients and physicians, it also translates into major shifts in how to effectively market in the healthcare space.
Any list of key factors affecting the industry will include:
- An aging population, often dealing with multiple health conditions
- Demand for more personalized treatments and consumer-like care experiences
- Fewer doctors and nursing staff to treat patients
- Continued outcome-enhancing treatment innovation
- Rise of specialized, high-volume “centers of excellence”
- Digital disruption & greater access to data
- Persistent tension between the cost & quality of care
- And the list goes on and on…
The end result: we’ve shifted from smaller, independent provider practices and independent hospitals that peacefully coexisted together to a more consolidated landscape of integrated healthcare ecosystems competing for market share while striving to deliver better health outcomes more cost effectively. The primary care physician is now the tip of the care spear, seamlessly navigating patients through a coordinated and comprehensive set of care options all within the same system.
How does this impact marketing?
Success in this new world requires an integrated marketing and communications effort that builds brand reputation, drives service line demand generation and delivers ongoing patient engagement and loyalty. Here are four key components to this approach:
One: Build awareness with a brand story
Tell your overarching brand story to build brand awareness, reputation and consideration – connecting with your core audiences by communicating why your integrated health system should matter to them. Utilize an omnichannel mix of digital and traditional media known to support brand-building, including social media, TV and online video, out-of-home, radio, and print – all directing consumers to relevant branded landing pages and/or the health system website.
Two: Drive service line demand
Concurrent with broader-brand building activities, simultaneously convert brand consideration into patient action in order to drive patient acquisition and retention. Leverage media channels that enable patients to activate on specific calls to action such as “find a doctor” or “request an appointment.” This could include digital channels such as paid search, display and paid social.
Three: Commit to ongoing patient engagement
Building long-term preference requires ongoing patient engagement. Connect with patients before, during and after their appointments delivering personalized communications relevant to where they are on their treatment journeys, such as appointment reminders, post-appointment surveys, and condition-related content from their doctors. Appropriate media channels typically include text, email, voicemail and apps such as MyChart.
Four: Track and optimize
Measure your progress against goals and benchmarks. Ongoing tracking of key brand reputation and demand generation metrics is critical to evaluate progress and adjust tactics to optimize marketing effectiveness and efficiency. Successful measurement will require a combination of periodic market research studies (to track brand funnel and attribution metrics) and advanced media analytics (to assess and optimize media tactics).
Winning in this still-evolving integrated health system world is a difficult challenge, requiring adept marketing planning and execution. Those systems that can effectively build overall brand reputation while simultaneously generating service line demand and ongoing engagement will realize the greatest gains from their integrated marketing investment.