Sunday, April 15, 2018

Nine Essential Strategies for Engaging the Healthcare Consumer & Patient 24/7, Because That is the World of Life.

Last time I looked, hospitals were 24/7 operations. And the other thing I noticed, individual use of health care in many ways is 24/7 too. Since healthcare continues evolving into an innovative, accountable, cost-effective, quality outcome and consumer need driven model, it begs the question, is engagement now an all the time new reality? Secondary to that question is, are healthcare organizations prepared for that new marketing realty?

Like anything in life and business, some are, and the majority are not.   But be that as it may, consumer and patient engagement is not a part-time, or as we happen to think about the activity. What patient and consumer engagement is the opportunity to create, engage, foster and nourish an enduring relationship with those individuals and families. And that engagement is regardless what day, time of day, social media channel or location in space and time the individual resides.

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.  Otherwise, you will see more outmigration from your community for care because others can do it better, faster and more cost-effectively.  

After all, healthcare is a 2.8 trillion dollars business and the competition from traditional and nontraditional providers is accelerating. CVS, in a little-noticed press release announcement on Friday, April 13, 2018, that Marc-David Munk was named Chief Medical Officer for CVS Minute Clinics. Munk will oversee expanded healthcare services across CVS Health in what Munk calls “primary care 2.0” when at Iora in a 2015 blog post.  

You can bet that any expansion and innovation will come at the hospitals and health systems expense. As the strategies unfold, with 24/7 engagement and an incredibly strong brand that will overshadow hospitals and health systems, CVS will become the go-to destination for many healthcare services using effective “all the time” engagement strategies.

What to do?

Here are nine engagement strategies hospitals and health systems need to employ:

1. Integrate your engagement solutions. That means information is delivered seamlessly to the healthcare consumer r patient so that they can interact with you any way they want when they want too.  Think an omnichannel continuous presence.

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. That still in many ways means “heads in the beds.”  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. A case of back-to-basics CRM understanding the gender, age, integration of risk assessments, culture, etc.  One cannot engage unless there is intimate knowledge about who they are, their needs and how to tailor the information they need to engage them.

6. Test and measure. There 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. The healthcare consumer and patient are inviting hospitals and health systems to engage them and engage them all the time.

8. Know the influence of culture on behavior to engage. Living in a multicultural society where assimilation may become a thing of the past, the culture will play an increasingly important role. Become familiar with the different individual cultures of those who use your healthcare services. It is a consumer need. Meet it.

9. Time it right and add value.  If your message is not resonating with the healthcare consumer or patient when they receive it, then you have lost them. Communicate relevant messages to a committed patient right at healthcare decisions points. That means knowing the patient and their needs.

The healthcare consumer and patient have moved from passive healthcare participants to active choice and decision makers. The engagement reality hospitals face, finding a way to the healthcare consumers and patients 24/7 engagement cycle.    

Do you still think you can compete against CVS Health and other competitors without 24/7 engagement? Or, maybe you like the care model of only being used for three things, emergency care, care for acute complex medical conditions and intensive care?

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in  52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media with a Klout score of 64, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide.  Michael is an established influencer and inquires for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling   815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.

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