Saturday, December 22, 2012

Is the time right for a patient experience focus in healthcare advertising?

Living in a large metropolitan area with some pretty well recognized system heavyweights and Academic Medical Centers, I am fortunate enough to see a good deal of hospital and health system advertising. Anyhow, happy smiling patients, doctors looking intently into a microscope, nice building exterior shots and high-tech equipment all promoting, something, but clearly not the brand. High production values and in most cases using hired talent instead of employees. The best one was a group of specialists standing and proudly discussing the quality of the air in the patient rooms. Really?

I have said it before and I am saying it again, where is the differentiation? And what does the statement: "We have surgical air quality in all the rooms", mean? Does it even matter to a potential patient. "Quick, take me to that academic medical center that has really clean air in the rooms!", said the patient. Really?

Food for thought

Healthcare is changing and marketing needs to change along with it. Especially on how we approach the market, differentiate our hospitals, communicate value and build brand. If we continue to portray ourselves as "gee whiz" look at us with all these high-tech tools and research and clean air, all the while telling the consumer its really all about you without offering up a strong brand promise and call-to-action, than what is the point of spending all that money?

The patient experience will differentiate you.

If you focused the ad concept, copy and visuals on the patient experience and how it all fits together for the patients benefit, then you are differentiating. It is no longer about you, but about the patient. You can still tell your story, but in a much more powerful and compelling way. You can create a recognizable brand promise and value equation which the consumer will understand.

Focus on the patient.

Focus on their needs.

Focus on the patient experience to drive revenue.

Focus on the patient experience to differentiate yourself.

Most healthcare organizations are frozen in time, even more so now with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They are caught in a vicious planning cycle with no end in sight. Neither acting or reacting, most healthcare organizations are missing out on valuable market opportunities. They are doing what they have always done, approaching the market like consumers are idiots and are only impressed with high-tech machines, smiling happy patients, exterior building visuals and doctors looking into microscopes. There will be winners and losers. And that is already being determined while you wait and try to figure out what it all means.

Start meeting consumer needs and build your brand around experience and framing those expectations to your advantage.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.


Martin Merritt said...

In Dallas, Hospitals buy billboards to keep the hospital close to the billboards from using them, either that or they actually are trying to make people turn around, and go across town? Seems unbecoming to me.

Erick Kinuthia said...

Resourceful point.This will allow marketing of medical services through social media to be easy.

Erick kinuthia

Kathi Browne said...

Great point! Healthcare providers need to think like patients and communicate accordingly. Do we care about air purification? No, but we care if a hospital is cleaner than another, has better outcomes than the national average, or goes to greater lengths to prevent us from catching what the other patients bring in. We also wonder how often those community toys get cleaned and how long the wait time is.