Sunday, August 30, 2015

Is healthcare consumer & patient engagement an all-of-the-time the new reality?

As healthcare continues its rapid evolution into a far more accountable, cost effective, quality outcome and consumer driven model, it begs the question, is engagement now an all of the time a new reality? Secondary to that question is are healthcare providers prepared for that new marketing realty?

Like anything in life and business, some are but the majority is not.   But be that as it may, it would seem that healthcare consumer or patient engagement is not a part time or some of the time activity anymore of hit or miss activities.  On Facebook one day then gone for weeks at a time.  Sporadic outreach  and touch someone emails, calls, or even any changed content on the web site. No integrated marketing communications across multiple channels and platforms to drive engagement. 

What engagement should be viewed as is the opportunity to create, foster, and nourish a one-on-one relationship that is enduring with those individuals and families.  

What I would really like to know, is that if providers are not effectively engaging with the healthcare consumer or patient for that matter, how do you even think any population health initiative will be successful?  Talk all you want about populations and managing the same, the bottom line is it still comes down to the individual. And if the individual is not engaged, it all falls apart.

That is a scary proposition for some healthcare organizations. It means being accountable and responsible to those you serve and meeting their needs by delivering on the brand promises day in and day out.  I would also suggest that this extends to area employers as well.  Otherwise you will see more out-migration from your community for care because others can do it better, faster and more cost effectively and have effectively engaged the person.  

After all, healthcare is a $2.8 trillion dollars business and the competition from traditional and nontraditional providers will only get more intense. The healthcare consumers will spend in excess of $350 billion out-of-pocket for insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles in 2015.   Providers that can engage will become the go to destinations for healthcare that will not only survive the storm, but prosper as well.

Providers now live in a medical retail market.  Though others will tell you that it’s all about experience, that’s just cover for the old ways of doing business and telling you what you want to hear.  It’s now about four dimensions- , price, outcomes, engagement and experience.  Focusing only on experience with your marketing communications and campaigns is a prescription for failure.

So what to do?

Here are nine engagement strategies you need to employ:

1. Integrate your engagement solutions. That means information is delivered seamlessly so that the healthcare consumer can interact with you any way they want, when they want too. 

2.  Marketing should be using both push and pull messaging.  Messaging needs to be relevant to the audiences at the point in time it’s needed that is personalized, customized, and aware of the cultural heritage and influences tailored to them.

3. Incentives and motivational techniques will be needed to keep patient engaged. That doesn't mean cash. Look to the gaming industry for gaming technology and gaming prediction, for ways to engage without cash. Be creative.  Look outside healthcare for ideas, tools and techniques to engage. 

4. Create a sense of community.  You have to compete and one needs to feed the beast. The hospital has not yet tipped to being a cost center from a revenue center. That day will come but not for a while yet.  Get into the inner circle of the audience and become the trusted advisor. It's not just about loyalty. Shape the behaviors to the point where they will recommend unconditionally.

5. Know the audience and with whom one is speaking too. This is really back-to-basics CRM understanding the gender, age, integration of risk assessments, culture etc.  One cannot engage effectively   unless there is intimate knowledge about them, their needs and how to tailor the information they need to engage them.

6. Test and measure. This is no time to be reactive in approaching and engaging.  The only way to can figure out if it's working is to test and measure in a very methodical way.

7. Use technology.  We live in a world of technology and you need to run a multifaceted, highly integrated campaign. With social media, smartphones, web, text messaging, mobile messaging, etc., eighty percent of consumers want the option of interacting with a healthcare provider via their smartphones. Forty-one percent of healthcare consumers use social media to make provider choices.   The healthcare consumer and patient are inviting healthcare organizations to engage them and engage them all the time.

8. Know the influence of culture on behavior to engage.

9. Time it right, and add value.  If you health messaging is not resonating with the healthcare consumer or patient when they receive it, then one has lost them. Communicate relevant messages to a committed patient right before healthcare decisions are made. That means knowing the patient like have never before.

I do chuckle as a major health system that I have been going to for over 20 years has been boasting of a great CRM system for several years now. I for one,  nor any family member have ever been  engaged by the system hospital in any meaningful way. I know you, but you have no clue who I am.  And I can choose to go elsewhere because you know why, providers at the local level all the same.

That's why you engage all of the time. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tired of bad & boring healthcare vendor webinars?

I don’t know about you, but I for one am becoming very tired of attending webinars that for lack of decorum or tack on my part, are frankly, boring. 

All that time spent by the sponsoring organization  developing  the topic and content, PPTs,  marketing slick titles with content learning promises, gaining an audience and then flatness. The speakers show few or any signs of being alive or even excited about the presentation.

Then there is the speaker or speakers attempting to sound professorial as if the attendee is hanging on every word of wisdom to flow from them. Better yet are the slide readers, who are followed by the going over the allotted time resulting in no Q&A. And my personal favorite, 60 minutes of why the company’s solution is the best thing since sliced bread. 

On a separate note, I am writing this as I listen half hardily to several people with a moderator do a preplanned Q&A. It’s as dead as a doorknob.

At least they provided slides which look really interesting but have never been referred to at all.

In an age when executive leadership in hospitals and health systems are looking for solutions to solve incredibly difficult business challenges, thought leadership webinars are a great way to reach that audience and generate Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) for becoming Sales Accepted Leads (SALs). 

Even better if one takes the content from the slides and recorded audio to produce a research or issue brief for after-market use. Better yet for the vendor is when webinar sponsorship is by an industry association, is cobranded and marketed, and has one of a client’s senior leaders to co-present.

One can really have the greatest thing since sliced bread but if it is presented in a flat sounding boring webinar, you may have already lost the sale.

Webinar “boringness” usually happens when marketing acquiesces  control of the development of the webinar and allows the content thought leaders do their thing.  Everyone knows that marketing is easy attitude.

Good webinars require marketing leadership and exercise of control. Period, end of discussion.

Now that being said, I am not saying that development of an engaging webinar is a marketing dictatorship. On the contrary, it is a collaborative shared effort where there is a free exchange between all the parties involved to arrive at the best possible product.
And that means people place their egos in the closet and work together, so that the webinar reflects the value proposition, delivers a problem solution orientation and a  way  for solving the business issue and positions the company with the solution as to go to leader. In turn, the webinar should generate MQLs that become SALs to become closed sales driving revenue and growth.

Stop with the boring, professorial sounding, talking head webinars.

Do make them:
  • Topic timely. Engaging. Enlightening. Participatory. Knowledgeable. Rehearsed. Delivered on time and solution focused. Deliver what you promised in the marketing campaign.
  • With plenty of time for Q&A.

  •  Provide slide versions of  War and Peace, less is more.
  • Tell people what they already know.
  • Give a history lesson of healthcare and how we got to where we are today. The audience is smart.  Read from the slides.
  • Thought leadership in webinars is not about what one knows, but the application of that knowledge is a new and different way.

After all, the end result should be sales, revenue and growth. Not boredom, lack of interest and no sale.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Is it time to make hospital marketing stickier?

With all the things that hospital leadership and healthcare marketing executives have on their plates and keeping them up at night, here’s a new one.  And unfortunately, it’s out of one’s control and no exceptions are allowed.

The economy has shifted from a product and service economy to an experience economy. Hospitals and health systems, any healthcare provider really, are operating in an economy that is radically different then the past.

Being paid for the production of care in fee-for-service model is a product and service approach to healthcare. Marketing to drive utilization to do more things is product and service marketing focused on feature and claims but not necessarily benefits. And with all the healthcare providers taking product marketing features approach, it’s no wonder then, that little differentiation exists in the market resulting in provider marketing that is not sticky.

Nobody remembers the advertisements.  But the healthcare and patient remembers what they saw on social media or the Internet. The healthcare consumer is talking and searching for healthcare information to learn and make choices.  But is the hospital or health system listening?

Welcome to the experience economy, where the experience of care trumps the products and services of care.

“In an experience economy, it’s not about what you do, but more about how you do it.”, Grant Leboff, Sticker Marketing- How To Win Customers In A Digital Age.
Now what?

Time for change.

To grow and thrive in the experience economy while all else is in flames around the hospital or health system, it means moving from traditional marketing, to experiential marketing that addresses  needs of and meets the experience expectations of the healthcare consumer and patient.

Making provider marketing sticky is all about the care experience and engagement of the person on a very personal level. And given the multitude of ways, one of the most effective will be social media.

Social media is about amplification. Amplification of the experience. Amplification of the brand messaging. Amplification of marketing that is sticky. 

Time to go where the healthcare consumer and patient can be found:

59 percent of adults look online for health information
39 percent use the Internet to figure out their diagnosis
53 percent discuss the information and their diagnosis they found online with a clinician
41 percent of consumer online diagnoses are confirmed by the clinician
41 percent say social media would influence their choice of hospital or doctor
Source: AIS Media, Social Media For Medical Marketing Webinar, August 12, 2015

What the above all represents is how in an experience economy consumers take action.  Not necessarily responding to traditional marketing, they are looking for the experience of what you do, not how you do it with technology, bricks and mortar or smiling physicians accepting new patients.

Here are 10 new marketing rules in an experience economy for making provider marketing stickier:

  • Understand fully and completely the healthcare consumer and person experience. With over 147 touch-points for consumer and patient experience with a hospital. It’s vital in the experience economy that marketing understands what information they are seeking, and deliver it to them at the right experience touch-point with the right call-to-action.
  •  Content is king. Make it memorable. It’s how you drive engagement through effective and compelling storytelling around the experience of care, not the how of the care.  From the web site to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope etc, focus on the experience. Be visual. Be compelling.
  • Identify and work with key influencers.  They need to ample your message through social media. Encourage user generated content.
  • Testimonials about the experience of care and engagement from patients and healthcare consumers.
  • Integrate and communicate the value of the brand, key brand messages and brand promise across all channels.
  • Use social media and SEO to amplify your message. Influencer’s and patients providing testimonials need to complete online reviews to raise your placement in Google and other search engine results.
  • Integrate the information and experience across all channels and platforms that consumer will use- desk top, smartphone or tablet for a seamless experience. No disconnects. The healthcare consumer moves freely between all three devices expecting the same experience across all three.
  • Traditional marketing needs to focus more on the price, outcomes, experience and drive engagement.  No more pretty building, smiling doctors, shiny new equipment. 
  • Teach employees how to use their social media channels to amplify the provider.
  • Teach the healthcare organization that marketing today is no longer about transactions but value.  Transactions will come after the value is understood.

Many traditional healthcare consultants and firms will say this is just all nonsense.  That marketing really makes has no place in the experience or engagement management process.  But then when you look at that advice, have any real, tangible, and measurable results been accomplished outside of hearing what one desires to be told? Or, it just treading water until the next healthcare market move slaps one upside the head?

There is no escaping or slowing down the experience economy as it overtakes healthcare.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.