All health care is local. Major events such as the Affordable Care Act, state regulatory action and new or experimental payment methodologies change the game on a regular basis. But in the end, it still comes down to medical care delivered in the physician’s office, the local hospital and other nearby settings. Places where the healthcare consumer forms opinions and then shares in a variety of ways.
Even with all the market uncertainty, the growing consumerism, data transparency driven by third parties along price and outcomes, retail innovation and non-traditional competition, health care is still a game of influence. Often overlooked in healthcare, influencer's have the ability to sway public and individual opinion to the betterment or determent of the organization.
So how can a hospital or health system influence the influencers?
It’s not about emailing the top 50 twitter people in your market; though social media is important.
It’s not about the blogger with the biggest audience; though a highly followed blogger can’t be ignored.
What it is about is identifying who the influencer's are in your market, and building long term relationships. It’s like making a friend. Would one make a friend just by tweeting or commenting in a Facebook post or reading a blog? No magic bag of tricks here. It takes hard work but the payoff can be measured in years.
Since influencing the influencers is all about relationship building, it’s about getting them to an event, getting them on the phone, writing a personal email. Influencing the influencers is pretty traditional stuff really. Things healthcare marketer’s use to do and still do to a certain extent, but chase the shiny new channel or technique. Its old-fashioned relationship-building applied to a new way of reaching people.
Influencers can assist in recommending insurance plans one is a provider member of in the exchanges. Influencers can recommend hospital friendly physicians. Influencers can make a great difference and speed up the brand and reputation recover efforts after a major public relations or media disaster. Think Texas Health Presbyterian and Ebola mismanagement. I hope that in the reputation rebuild efforts that they are using community influencers to make a difference.
The more things change the more they stay the same. Adding an influence the influencers component into your integrated marketing has the potential to pay some very large long term brand, reputation and revenue impacts.
So who are you influencing?