Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Best of Healthcare Marketing Matters from 2020

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

What a year 2020 has been, from the Coronavirus pandemic to the election and everything in between.

The response by hospitals and health systems across the country to the pandemic has been excellent. In an industry not known for rapid innovation and adoption of new ways to deliver care, the pandemic showed just how resourceful the leaders, doctors, and nurses changed their organizations to meet the need of patients, the community, and face the threat head-on.

Kudos to everyone for the countless lives saved. Remember those doctors, nurses, first responders, and other healthcare workers who lost their lives serving others.

As some of you may know, I write another blog, Perceptions, Observations, and Musings of an Old Man, since 2019. Writing two blogs takes its toll and is not easy. I am wimping out for the last two weeks of 2020 and giving you the best of Healthcare Marketing Matters blog posts from 2020. The best blog posts' criteria are the number of views, ranked highest to lowest with 1,000 views and above being the lowest.

Your readership humbles me. I am amazed that people worldwide thought about what I was writing was worth them taking time from their day and spend it with me.  When I started Healthcare Marketing Matters, back in February 2007, I never thought it would grow from a few hundred monthly views to being read in 52 nations with slightly over 12,000 views per month.

The best I can do is to say thank you for reading. I am humbled and grateful, and I am looking forward to sharing more strategic thought and considerations with you in 2021.

Stay safe. Mask up. Get vaccinated.

1) Hospital Grassroots Marketing- Seven Ideas to Lead the Community Out of the Pandemic -https://bit.ly/2P63kK1  – published July 28th - 2,205 views.

2) What is the Ongoing Role of The Hospital in a Public Health Crisis? https://bit.ly/2E5BHP0 - published July 21st – 2,122 views.

3) Lessons from the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic, Are You Ready for a Chief Engagement Officer? https://bit.ly/2AvJLqW - published - June 15th – 1,923 views.

4) Hospital Community Leadership for Ongoing SARS-CoV-2 Information. The Time is Now. https://bit.ly/302LhJG - published July 13th – 1,908 views.

5) How Will You Manage the Hospital Patient Experience Post COVID-19? https://bit.ly/2Wp1YND - published May 4th – 1,879 views.

6) "Hey Siri, Alexa, I Think I May be Coronavirus Sick. Who Should I Call?"  https://bit.ly/3g7JDwF - published June 29th – 1,850 views.

7) Because of COVID-19, Continuous Ongoing Patient Engagement is the New Reality https://bit.ly/2AwRLaW - published July 6th – 1,839 views.

8) How Are You Reengaging Patients Post COVID-19? https://bit.ly/2NiVUlx - published June 22nd – 1,830 views.

9)  Hospitals Need to Rebuild Trust, Not Send Pre-Pandemic Marketing Messages https://bit.ly/2YSqwBx – published May 11th – 1,781 views.

10) Hospitals Need to Rebuild Trust, not Send Pre-Pandemic Marketing Messages https://bit.ly/2YSqwBx – published May 11th, 1,781 views.

11) Where are All the Patients? And How do You Get Them Back? https://bit.ly/3feV2L1 – published June 8th – 1,733 views.

12) Hospital Quality Award Season is Here. What Does That Mean During a Pandemic? https://bit.ly/2DvmeaI – published August 3rd – 1,721 views.

13) Hope is Not a Strategy; Leading Patients, Community Through the Flu Season, COVID-19 Reemergence is. https://bit.ly/35uI4an – published September 8th – 1,673 views.

14) With the "New Normal" Courtesy of SARS-CoV2, what is Your Continuous Engagement Strategy? https://bit.ly/3cWZw89 – published May 25th – 1,664 views.

15) The Primary Care Marketing Opportunity https://bit.ly/2Y6gyvX - published April 26th - 1,590 views.

16) News Flash: SARS-CoV-2 has Changed Everything. Hospital Marketing Needs to Change too. https://bit.ly/2WKBI1r - published May 19th – 1,549 views.

17) Have You Completed a Hospital Marketing Department Audit? https://bit.ly/3gNibW1 - published August 11th – 1,547 views.

18) Time for Marketing's Return to the Hospital Leadership Table https://bit.ly/2ZXyM3z - published June 1st – 1,492 views.

19) Digital Stories- the Missing Hospital Marketing Opportunity? https://bit.ly/3aSTuoW - published August 25th – 1,477 views.

20) The New Normal Podcast- Episode 9: Financial Stability of the Healthcare Industry, a Conversation with Michael Krivich https://bit.ly/3daEUtj - published May 28th – 1,431 views.

21) Leveraging Free Social Media Platforms During the COVID-19 Crisis for Communication. https://bit.ly/2wUMQ1Z - published April 5th – 1,374 views.

22.) Four Basic Questions in Are You Ready for Hospital Price Transparency? https://bit.ly/3iPIQlu – published August 18th – 1,366 views.

23) Healthcare Marketing in a Public Health Crisis, Be the Leader https://bit.ly/3avPCt4 - published March 29th - 1,253 views.

24) What is Your COVID-19 Mid-Pandemic Marketing Plan? https://bit.ly/2XNOwoI - published April 19th – 1,216 views.

25) Are You Preparing for Walgreens Entry into Primary Care? https://bit.ly/3hTWmo8 - published September 1st – 1,197 views.

26) Is the Golden Age of Patient and Community Engagement at Hand? https://bit.ly/3b5hg05 - published April 12th – 1,135 views.

27) Hospital COVID-19 Communications Today, Will Impact Future Consumer Decisions https://bit.ly/2QDmyb1 - published March 22nd – 1,031 views.

28) Coronavirus, Your Hospital, and Crisis Communications- Key Principles to Use. http://bit.ly/3aBZXTO - published March 8th – 1,021 views.

Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year. Best wishes for a safe, healthy, successful, and prosperous 2021.

Image by amorimboitec from Pixabay

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller. The opinions expressed are my own.

Signup for the e-newsletter Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup on the sidebar.


Monday, December 21, 2020

Welcome to 2021, Where Patients Become Price Buyers- Seven Considerations for Hospitals

 

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Patients as buyers are no longer an "it will happen someday," but a market reality come January 1, 2021. Signs are apparent that market power is shifting from the hospitals as the dominant seller controlling the relationship to the patient as the chief buyer. The CMS January 1, 2021 mandate of the 200 searchable standard procedures with prices on the hospital website will allow the patient more control.

In this kind of environment, the patient is king and queen. The hospitals' position in patients' minds will be an amalgamation of expectations and experience along the dimensions of brand, price, quality, experience, and engagement. Why? Because hospitals and health systems have little differentiation.

Image by djedj from Pixabay

A hospital is a hospital, is a hospital.

What value does the hospital or health system bring to physicians and patients? That is the question at hand. And in a buyers' market, it's the only question you can answer successfully. In many ways, a hospital service buyers' market is about the accountability of your offerings' for patients and community regardless of the demographic or market segment they reside.

To respond appropriately to a buyers' market, hospital marketers need to dramatically change their approach and techniques.

Moving forward with seven considerations to respond to a buyer's market

1. Brand and competitive position. Patients are ready for transparency and convenient technology-enabled access to care. Healthcare providers capable of identifying these needs and how they want their healthcare needs met through technology will gain new patients and next-generation physicians.

2. Engage existing customers and patients. An individual is only a patient 1/3rd of the time they come in contact with you. That is during the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery phase. Pre and post this experience; they are a healthcare consumer, not a patient. So why then is it the only time one chooses to meaningfully engage them is during the period when they are a patient? Continuous patient engagement builds loyalty, and more importantly, keeps them in your network, which has some pretty significant financial ramifications in a risk-based reimbursement model.

3. Engage physicians. No matter the payment model, the hospital or health system still needs a physician or physician extender medical order to get anything done in a healthcare setting. That means engaging physicians in meaningful ways, using the methods, technology, and systems that will make their life easier, improve their productivity, and protect or increase their income. An effective and efficient physician has more to do with the impact of cost and quality in the hospital than any other factor.

4. Improve physician experience. How hard is it for a physician or physician extender to practice medicine in your organization? Have you looked at the hassle factor that physicians encounter when trying to get things done in the hospital setting? Understand how the physician experiences your organization at every touch-point they meet the hospital. Understand their experiences overall from beginning to end, not just in an isolated segment. Fix what is broken; keep what is working. The more satisfying the experience, the better you will do financially.

5. Focus on patient experience. A hospital's ability to deliver an experience that sets it apart in the patients' eyes and potential patients from its competitors - traditional and non-traditional - increases their loyalty to the brand. One needs to actively manage the customer experience in totality by understanding the customer's point of view. All touchpoints internally and externally that the patient encounters, which create the experience, need to be actively managed. Exceptional experience means gains in market share, brand awareness, and revenue.

6. Expand retail healthcare. Traditional ways of delivering healthcare are going by the wayside. Think of the hospital system as a distributive computer network. Price convenience, access, and outcomes are the drivers in retail healthcare. Find the need, understand the patient's behavior drivers, design the offering around the patient, not the hospital, in a convenient location, and price it appropriately. Oh, and name it correctly; think will the patient understand what you do from the name and not something opposite. If you can't compete in the market in this way, the last one out can turn off the lights.

7. It's an omnichannel world. With the healthcare consumer living in an omnichannel world, turn to social media and influencer networks to engage, manage the experience, drive loyalty and referrals. As healthcare continues evolving to a consumer dominated transaction in a semi-retail environment, social networking is a healthcare marketing channel that underperforms. Go where the patient is, not where you want them to be.

Seven steps for hospitals to achieve market and revenue growth in the new buyers' market. Not an impossible task, but one that does require focus and a willingness to break from the past.

Welcome to the age of the patient as a buyer.

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Monday, December 14, 2020

It's Time for Hospitals to Step Up in the COVID-19 Vaccination Effort

Image by pearson0612 from Piaxabay

 

Hospitals and health systems made great strides in leading and engaging their communities through the teeth of the first wave of the pandemic, and establishing themselves as the credible source of information and resources, communities, who responded positively for the most part.

Once the first wave passed, most healthcare organizations moved away from the pandemic messaging and quickly reverted to pre-pandemic marketing efforts.  It was too soon to completely drop the pandemic community leadership and patient messaging activities, as I have written before.

Now with SARS-CoV-2 infection rates skyrocketing daily across the country, thousands of deaths per day, and hospitals at or near ICU capacity, and canceling elective surgeries, hospitals have a high stake in the success of the vaccination efforts now underway.

As reported in The Hill, "About half of Americans willing to receive COVID-19 vaccine, AP poll finds" only 47 percent of the American public state they will get vaccinated for COVID-19. A more optimistic poll by Gallup on December 8 reported in The Hill, "Willingness to get COVID-19 vaccine up 13 points since September," found that 63 percent would get vaccinated. For the sake of discussion, let's split the difference then and assume that at least 50 percent of the US public will get vaccinated.

The surveys indicate that willingness to get vaccinated rates are not high enough to achieve the promised land of community herd immunity and some semblance of normalcy.

With the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine receiving FDA emergency use approval, and the vaccine shipping on Sunday, December 13, it's time for hospitals and health systems to get off the fence.

There is so much false and misleading information, the hospital needs to reestablish itself and the credible source of information and lead patients and the community to get vaccinated.

It is not the time to say the government or others have the responsibility on our behalf to step-up with informational vaccination campaigns.

Your patients and community need a credible, trusted source of information about vaccination and education on the need to vaccinate.

Why?

Image by PDPics from Pixabay

Because the public has an apprehension and fear of the unknown, much of that is because of false facts, historical mistrust of government, foreign misinformation campaigns, anti-science lying political leaders, and the anti-vaccination people. I also understand that some individuals, for medical reasons, may not be able to either.

We all want some semblance of normalcy in our lives after the last year. The healthcare industry that responded in unprecedented ways with speed, new efficiencies, and change to combat the pandemic's first wave needs a return to some normalcy.

You have a significant stake in the success of the vaccination, the effort to get to herd immunity, and a normal return.

Be the credible source of vaccination information and community leader again and bring this pandemic to a swift end.

Please.

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller. The opinions expressed are my own.

Signup for the e-newsletter, Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup on the sidebar.

Monday, December 7, 2020

13 Tips to Improve Your Zoom Meeting & Webinar Presentation Skills

Over the past several months, I have been an attendee on several hospital video presentations with from one - four presenters on various topics, mostly related to hospital responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Some have been a combo with providers, and vendors presented like a case study. 

Image by Tina Koehler from Pixabay


It is remarkable the breadth and depth of expertise in the innovation and change that has taken place in the hospital industry. The response by leadership and staff in hospitals and health systems to the public health crisis has been outstanding for the most part. The willingness to share their story of success and failure of the rapid change journey shows much creative thought and innovations that were rapidly implemented in institutions that are generally resistant to change.

These webinars have added to the collective knowledge, but I have seen some trends with the presenters, detracting from the presentations. In a video conference attended by a large group of people where interaction is limited to the chatbox, optics are everything. It can be challenging when there are multiple presenters.

With that in mind, I decided to put together a tip sheet that will help you with your video conference presentation skills whether internally to the organization or externally to a large group. 

Image by wiredsmartio from Pixabay.

1.       Don't multi-task. We are all are busy, but when you are one of several presenters on the call, your movement, actions, typing, and other behaviors distract from the speaker. Remember, optics is everything, and the attendees can see what you are doing. You look disengaged, and that diverts the attendee's concentration. It not a conference call where people can't see you. 

2.       Mute yourself. If you can't help yourself and feel the need to type for whatever reason on the video call, please mute yourself.  The sound of your typing can be heard and is a distraction. 

3.       Show some enthusiasm for the topic. Vary your vocal pitch and smile when someone else is talking with a nod in agreement if appropriate. Show you are paying attention and are as engaged in the webinar as the attendees. 

4.       Don't read your slides. The audience can read and are highly experienced and educated individuals.  The audience is here to learn.  If all you are going to do is read your slides, you might send the slide deck to everyone and let them read. Instead, pick one to two points that are critical to the process or outcome and talk to those points. 

5.       Scripting your talk is good but don't go beyond talking points. I have been on webinars where the presenter scripted out the entire talk. The person then proceeded to read a verbatim script. That is a talking head, and it's boring. The optics don't help with your head bouncing up and down and the sound of pages being turned. Scripting while helpful, can also send the message that you may be unsure of the topic and can't speak extemporaneously.  

6.       Stay away from making eye chart PPT slides. White space is good, and less is more. Add slides if you need to. Use transitions in your slide points and bring them in as you are taking. The technique of side transition provides some separation and visual alerts the attendee that you're moving along. Be reasonable with the transition tool and consistent. Don't have items flying in from all over the place. 

7.       Speaking of PowerPoints, use the widescreen format instead of standard. It does not require a new Microsoft PPT software. In your open presentation, click on Design. The in the lower toolbar to the right, click on slide size and choose widescreen. It gives you more white space and is far more modern looking than the standard PPT square format. You'll have to fix the slides to match the new area, but it's worth the effort. 

8.       While we are on PowerPoint, use as few slides as possible. You need to demonstrate command of the material. Just because you have a certain length of time doesn't mean a PPT slide every 30 seconds or so. Be concise and rely on your personality and knowledge to establish speaker rapport with the viewers. 

9.       Limit the hospital or health system about us to one slide with pertinent facts as to scope and size. The audience wants to learn what you did, how you executed, and what you learned. Stay away from hyperbole such as world-class, a zillion Centers of Excellence, the largest in the world, etc. 

10.   Remember to mention the contributions of other departments, leadership support, etc. Acknowledgments do wonders for the organization and culture.  

11.   Take a breath. We all get nervous, and sometimes talking becomes a runaway train. Your thoughts race ahead of your ability to speak and the speed and pace of your talk naturally speed up. Slow down, enunciate clearly and give an occasional pause allowing time for your audience to comprehend want you said. A good pause technique in a webinar to remind people that if they have any questions to use the chat function. 

12.   Ask your marketing department to assist with the formatting and graphic design. For example, if you have several points in a process, a tree with limbs can be used to place the process point names on the limbs, or a winding road with point signs. 

13.   Practice. Practice. Practice. Like anything in life, practice does not make perfect, but it makes presenting and speaking more comfortable. Use your internal meeting presentation opportunities to practice these thirteen tips. Dry run the entire presentation on a video call, or present to a group in-person, and fill the call or a conference room with colleagues. Then, when you're called upon to represent yourself and the hospital or health system in a webinar or speaking engagement, you'll be ready and an old hat at it.

With 13 actionable tips for a better video webinar and internal PowerPoint presentation, you'll be a TED Talks speaker in no time. Keep learning. Keep sharing with your peers. Keep improving.

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller. The opinions expressed are my own.

Signup for the e-newsletter, Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup on the sidebar.

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Influencing the Micro-Influencers, what is Your Hospital Marketing Strategy?

 

Image by expresswriters from Pixabay

All health care is local, but is shaped by events nationally, regionally, and locally. Changes in healthcare caused by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic with the rise of telemedicine, digital health, and new entrants in the healthcare market changes the competitive hospital landscape regularly.

It still comes down to medical care delivered in the physician’s office, the local hospital, and other care settings where patients form opinions and then share in a variety of ways on social media channels.

Despite all the market uncertainty, new price transparency regulations effective January 1, 2021, growing healthcare consumerism, data transparency driven by third parties, retail, medical innovation, and non-traditional competition, health care is still a game of influence.   Many hospitals and health systems are turning to influencers to promote the brand in creative campaigns. Then you see the same influencers in the same market promoting other non-healthcare brands.  

One must ask if they are really influencing the hospital brand in the market or just causing confusion? And what happens when the macro-influencers go bad?

The time had come for creating a brand strategy around the micro-influencer.

Instead of macro-influencers like celebrities, which have a limited lifespan and are fraught with their endorsement dangers from ill-advised behavior or comments in social media, it’s time for a better influencer strategy.

Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay

The age of impactful micro-influencers is here.

Micro-influencers are based in the local hospital market and carry more significant weight with the brand endorsements than many realize. Think of it this way: What is more valuable to the hospital in swaying the healthcare consumer? The celebrity with millions of followers worldwide, tweeting or blogging about the hospital, or the micro-local influencer who lives in the community with several thousand followers blogging about the hospital in the city?

Since most healthcare consumers searching for hospital and physician services are online, then the value of using local micro-influencers in the hospital service area increases exponentially.

Micro-influencers are the new word-of-mouth influencers for the hospital and physician.

How can a hospital or health system influence the influencers?

It’s like making a friend but with payment. No magic bag of tricks here.  It takes hard work, but the micro-influencer of choice payoff for you is brand growth and revenue. Now, who doesn’t want that?

Since influencing the influencers is all about relationship building, getting them to an event, getting them on the phone, and writing a personal email.  Influencing the influencers is traditional stuff that healthcare marketers use to do and still do to a certain extent, but instead, chase the shiny new channel or technique. Its old-fashioned relationship-building applied to a new way of reaching people.

Consider the following.

Micro-influencers can assist in recommending insurance plans in choosing a plan that the provider member in the exchanges. Influencers can guide patients to hospital friendly physicians.  Influencers can significantly speed up the brand and reputation recovery efforts after a significant public relations or media disaster. Micro-influencers work and live in the community and our friends, family members, community leaders, local radio personalities, etc.

Image by Diggity Marketing from Pixabay

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Adding an influence by the respected and followed micro-influencers into your integrated marketing has the potential to pay some substantial long-term brand, reputation, and revenue impacts.

The hospital needs to rebuild trust as a result of the pandemic, and micro-influencers can lead the way.

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller. The opinions expressed are my own.

Signup for the e-newsletter, Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup on the sidebar.

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Inbound Marketing- Meaningful Engagement of the Patient During the Pandemic

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

While there have been great strides in hospitals and health systems adopting digital marketing, most marketing remains mired in traditional outbound marketing methods. That is, pushing low-value content out in display ads, direct mailers, and broadcast media, hoping that someone will pay attention and act. Calls to actions are generic, and there is a lemming-like approach by hospitals in the same market to do the same thing simultaneously. Today's practice is still a look at us with little value messaging of what is offered. Sometimes it is even those soft; we care kinds of messaging.

Commonly referred to as interruption marketing, outbound is all about sending generic messages out to the broadest possible number of audiences with no customization of content or news, hoping that someone will respond.

The pandemic defines today's hospital as it affects the brand promise, engagement, and experience. These are the difference makers between driving revenue and growth or failure with a future of merger, outright acquisition, or closure and liquidation. The patient is increasingly taking control and making choices. Is outbound marketing the best way to drive brand awareness, choice, and selection?

Switching to inbound marketing.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Let's start the discussion with a definition.

Inbound marketing is a series of marketing actions designed to give patients a reason to engage with the hospital and utilize medical services. It's about bringing the patient to you. Inbound marketing requires meaningful content used to engage, build value, and relationship. It's a pull strategy as opposed to a push strategy that hospitals and health systems utilize. 

Remember, this is not an either-or proposition; one needs both strategies well integrated to achieve maximum benefit.

Inbound marketing is all about why someone should contact and choose you, not what you do.

Understand that inbound marketing focuses on "reason to communicate with you" and not a "do you need a doctor?" or cancer services or insert clinical, technology, or building name here for outbound marketing.  That means having engaging content that engages the ad intrigues the patient, meets a current need, and prompts a decision to take action with a strong call to action.

What are the inbound channels?

Image by launchpresso from Pixabay

The major component of inbound are emails, SEO, blogging, social media, content marketing, and review/referral sites. One is pushing relevant messaging based on the user personas and behavior characteristics that address their "pain points" and interests so that the hospital stays top-of-mind in their decision-making process.

The hospital needs to understand the patient's persona and their buying process.

The patient now has a buying process.  And in that buying process, facilities and technology are a factor, but not the most important one.  Patients during the pandemic are searching for information beyond the hospital services.  With that, the case, doesn't it make sense to be proactive and connect on a very personal level?  Inbound marketing allows you to do that.  But, it's not sending mass emails with generic information.

Inbound marketing recognizes that the patient is now different.  Yes, one continues to use demographic information but pigeonholing people into these "group clarifications" doesn't get to the issue of their pain points and what solutions they are looking for in meeting their healthcare needs. A persona is needed for each individual attracted to the hospital to develop appropriate engaging messages and deter the optimal channel mix to reach.  

Multiple channels are needed as the patient is omnichannel and lives in a digital world.

Inbound marketing is patient-centric, not hospital-centric.

Suppose one considers the focal point of what they need, not what the hospital needs to generate revenue, then marketing shifts.  The marketing department needs to understand the journey of the patient buying process. Once that is understood, then comes the relevant and meaningful information, available at any point in the process, sent to the patient. The hospital's marketing mission and strategies nurture the patient relationship with inbound marketing that converts and expands the relationship.

Inbound marketing positively impacts fee-for-service, risk-based, or value-based contracts.

Because you shift to inbound marketing, the hospital is engaging and establishing a strong relationship with the healthcare consumer or patient.  In population health management, engagement, and meaningful patient relationships are everything. 

Inbound marketing is attributable to increased revenue, growth, and ROI.

Image by Goumbik from Pixabay

Here is what happens for the hospital in shifting some of its effort from purely outbound to a strategically integrated combination of inbound and outbound marketing. The hospital does generate revenue; market share grows, the cost of marketing decreases, and marketing ROI increases.

Today, shifting to inbound marketing will pay huge dividends tomorrow, no matter what the payment system.

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller. The opinions expressed are my own.

Signup for the e-newsletter Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup on the sidebar.

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Nine Hospital Steps for Actively Leading the Community Through the SARS-CoV-2 Surge

 From Newsy, “Surgeon General, Others Warn Hospitals Can’t Handle Surge,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted Monday that hospitals can't sustain high levels of care during a COVID-19 surge. In New York, ICU occupancies have quadrupled. And in Ohio, doctors say hospitals are struggling to keep up. Dr. Helen K. Koselka, chief medical officer at Trihealth, said: "We're tired of seeing the fear on faces and tired of seeing people who are passing away. We're trying to blast a siren. We need the community's support."

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What are hospitals accomplishing with their marketing and public relations to provide leadership in partnership with State, County, and local health departments to actively engage and lead the community out of the pandemic surge?

It’s a valid question underlying the concept of the hospital’s responsibility in the execution of hospital and health system mission statements focused on community health and wellness, with a professed focus on population health management.

And what do we see in the media?

Media broadcast and print stories about the need to cancel elective surgeries.  News stories that are all about us and look at what we are doing to treat COVID-19 patients. Execution of marketing campaigns that make it seem as if all is well with the world.

Little if anything to engage and lead the community in slowing the community spread, staying safe, wearing a mask, social distance, and washing hands for a start.

I get it that we all want to move along and send marketing messages that the hospital is open for business.  The need to revive utilization should be balanced with the hospital's health and wellness mission in the community.

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

It’s about taking responsibility and being the leader. The hospital is the source of credible news and information regarding COVID-19, in slowing community spread and countering false information by promoting safe practices such as wearing a facemask, washing hands, and social distancing.

This is what happened during the first wave, which, unfortunately, was quickly forgotten in a rush to normalize and reopen like it never happened.

Amid the pandemic fatigue, tragedy and despair, communities need leadership from hospitals and health systems, not the stupidity of gaslighting officials, the scientifically illiterate, and conspiracy theorists.

Hospital leadership can add the following to their already full plate to figure out how they will survive. 

·         Leading the community public health effort. 

·         Being the credible source of truth. 

·         Providing unbiased, scientifically accurate information for preventing the community spread of the disease. 

·         Continuous, efficient, and effective patient and community engagement

It’s not over until it’s over.

Given the lack of a coherent national plan and response, it now falls, rightly or wrongly, to the hospitals in the local community to take a far more active role in the leadership of the pandemic response to slow the community spread.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

It is about continuing education and crisis communication messaging.

The marketing and PR messaging of the hospital and health system should flow along two simultaneous lines. One is educational by providing information and teaching what the individual and the community role in slowing the community spread of COVID-19. The other is treating every message as part of your crisis communications.

The hospital efforts all come down to continuing the educational and crisis communication activities. 

1.       Use social media for continuous communication for updates on the hospitals or health systems activities related to Coronavirus virus preparations and things the public should know. 

2.       Work internally with your employees, admitting physicians, Broad members, and volunteers to share what the hospital and health system are doing. 

3.       When you hear or become aware of stupid related to the Coronavirus, put out a statement to correct the misinformation. 

4.       Create easy to read and digestible educational information sheets on the Coronavirus for use in the community. 

5.       Back to massive digital and social media use since it’s the fastest method of information distribution and sharing to reach many people. Plus, that is where people live. 

6.       Run print ads, cable spots, radio ads were available and compatible with your messaging. 

7.       Message your community with status updates regularly in the messaging. 

8.       Become the trusted and reliable source of news and information in your community related to the Coronavirus. 

9.       Don’t be afraid to ask the community for help.

For the second mission, PR crisis communications, remember. 

1.       Effective crisis communications are grounded with credible sources. Credibility is about trustworthiness and expertise, as well as a perceived sense of morality. 

2.       Be honest to reduce rumors. Effective crisis communications are frequent, accurate and it does not over-reassure. 

3.       Aim for meaningful actions. Effective communications during a crisis involve persuading people to take harm-reducing steps. 

4.       Draw from experts, not amateurs. Effective communications during a crisis draw on the knowledge of subject-matter experts. 

5.       Be consistent. Consistency of messages is the final and maybe the most critical factor. 

As Charles Dickens writes at the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” 

Tomorrow will never be the same, but it can be different from the past when we were all unprepared.

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller -the app is needed with no web access. The opinions expressed are my own.

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