Sunday, June 11, 2017

What is wrong with this health systems marketing?

And it’s not a quiz either.

I try extremely hard not to call out individual hospitals or health systems for their lack of understanding of the healthcare consumer, their expectations, needs and for knowing who their patient is.

But sometimes the professional healthcare marketer in me gets the best of me when I receive some marketing material from a health system, through different incarnations, I have used for 22 plus years. That’s right 22 plus years.  Oh, and did I mention that my wife, children, and mother-in-law have used them too?

PH has no idea after 22 years of utilization from being a patient, using the ER, to outpatient testing,  WHO. I. AM.

And here is what set me off. And I can guarantee you that many a healthcare consumer, aka former patient, feels the same way.

The other day, I received a direct mail piece. It was a very nicely done, four-color, a heavy stock paper mailer that looked expensive with an offer for a chance to win a fitbit.  But the catch was if and only if, I will schedule an appointment with one of their most caring primary care physicians for a health checkup.

The marketing issues beyond PH for any number of hospitals and health systems is that if  PH had been paying attention, was being strategic in their marketing and messaging and fully understood who their customer was, they would have never sent me the direct mail piece.

Why, because for 22 years I have had a continuous relationship with a primary care doctor who I see regularly and who has me utilize the health system hospital.  With all due respect to Peter Frampton and Humble Pie, “I don’t need no doctor.” And I don't need any employed physician.

In one fell swoop, PH just told me they have no idea who I am. I know who they are from direct experience and utilization, but they are clueless about me, the healthcare consumer.

And in today’s marketing world of more data that you can beat with a stick, the availability of marketing automation, CRMs, experience mapping, the buyer's journey, AI and social media, that is just unacceptable.

It’s not that hard.

In today’s world of healthcare consumer choice where premiums, deductibles, and copays have the healthcare consumer paying for over one-third of the cost of care, hospitals, and health system marketing needs to be far more strategic, targeted, responsive, data-driven, and healthcare consumer oriented. 

There is no reason, no reason at all, not to understand who your audience is and the relationship that they already have built up with you. Understand what the healthcare consumer needs are, how the experience has been and how to communicate through the right channels with the right message, at the right time to build a mutually beneficial relationship.

For all hospitals and health systems out there in the medical-care land, just remember, that the healthcare consumer only needs you for three things- emergency care, intensive care and care for complex acute medical conditions. We can get all the care we need from our doctors and other providers in a far more cost effective, better experience, more convenient setting with higher quality outcomes than at a hospital or hospital-based outpatient service.

Can you hear the healthcare consumer now?

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.


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