Showing posts with label #hcmktg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #hcmktg. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Eight Strategic Imperatives for Hospital Marketers in 2021

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay.

We are on the 12th day of 2021, and already, the signs are apparent it will be another challenging year for hospital marketers. One could hope for improvement, but the confluence of external events, price transparency, and changes in healthcare delivery poses exciting challenges. The tried-and-true traditional ways of approaching the physician and patient market are no longer sufficient.

As hard as it is externally, hospital marketers, in many cases, still face the daunting task of driving revenue and building the hospital brand with diminished budgets.  The marketer's glass is either half full or half empty depending on your perspective. I prefer to see the glass full of tremendous opportunity.

The choice can be boiled down to; you can either surf the wave of change or let it wipe you out by marketing in your historical approaches and channels.  

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

With that in mind, here are eight strategic trends that hospital marketers should be focusing on in 2021. 

1.       COVID-19 will be around for a long time, and its impact will not go away anytime soon. Even with a vaccine, high unemployment will remain. In some cases, the patient's ability to pay for care will still be challenging, if not impossible. Patient fear still reigns supreme in deciding when and where to seek care. Hospital marketers will need to pivot to long-term growth strategies, brand reputation, demand generation options for multiple locations for care, brand awareness, public relations, and patient engagement. 

2.       Communication and engagement are essential. If not already, that means the hospital must be the trusted, credible source for health information and perspective, pandemic or not. It is time to humanize your communications. It is no longer about medical service, technology or building, and other features. Your communications now need to be engaging, informative, compassionate, trustworthy, and useful. 

3.       Patient experience is job number 1. Every single touchpoint in the patient experience needs to be revisited and addressed. The added urgency besides the pandemic is as of January 1; patients can now search the hospital's website for the prices of 200 common procedures. Price transparency and hospital medical service shopping have been introduced. While it will take a while for patients to figure it out, it will impact future utilization.  It is not the patients' role or responsibility to figure it all out. That is your job. That requires high-level communication and an easily navigable experience. 

Areas of focus are appointment scheduling and availability, procedures for in-person or telehealth options, elective and non-elective procedures, safety procedures and requirements, and general information. To optimize the patient experience, update your website content and navigation, revisit your call automation and routing system, personalize email and text messaging, provide an excellent mobile app experience, and update your business listings. 

4.       Focus on your brand reputation. If people have the feeling that you place profit over people, they will lose trust in the hospital. What you say and do will have a higher level of scrutiny in the coming year than ever before. No one expects you to stop advertising, but they want you to get it right.  

Areas of focus include 1) authority – how credible are you and the information you provide.  2)Transparency - it's time to stop omitting details. If things have changed, you have to be honest and inform on any issue, the who, what, where, and why. Omitting details or essential information builds distrust. 3) Reputation management- what is your program to generate positive patient reviews and address negative reviews? How are you optimizing the patients' digital experience to add to the hospital brand, not detract? 4) Public relations- don't turn it off; that is the worst thing you can do. But the time has come to change from throwing to the press release for a new medical staff member, award, or service. It is time to focus your PR on the good the hospital is doing in the community and the causes you are supporting. 5) Community engagement – with patients turning to healthcare organizations for safe, credible, and useful medical information, turn this into becoming the moderator for your communities in forums with medical professionals. Control the discussion and narrative. 

5.       Evolve your investment and spend on SEO and content marketing. The conversation is not what we are spending, but how is the patient using SEO and the desire for high-quality content changed?  How are your SEO and content spend best supporting the patient as they search for information? Patient searching hasn't gone away. Neither has the patient need for high-quality content. What has changed is how they search, such as voice using Echo and Alexa, for example, and what topics they are searching. 

6.       Telemedicine is not going away. Now is the time for hospital marketers to build demand for telemedicine services. The framework needs to be built now how telemedicine fits into the hospitals' overall services to look seamless to the patient. It is a focused brand awareness building. Telehealth is a different animal than the brick and mortar medical-based service. Telemedicine is, by nature, a virtual experience. The requirement focuses on the patient experience and engagement that is user-friendly, easy to use, and accessible. Build a telemedicine hub website that consolidates all the hospital's telehealth services in one place so that the user experience can be consistent and managed. It's just not another service that is an indistinguishable section of the existing hospital website. Telemedicine is a different high-tech animal that is the future of health care; when combined with wearable healthcare tech, it will only grow in importance. Make is it so. 

7.       Focus on and lean into innovative services.  Advances in technology such as medical AI, chatbots, medical care apps, curbside care, and other innovation come at you and the patient faster than you can shake a stick. The trick is to market these innovations, and the value and benefit to the patient, not features focused, but how to address and manage the experience. 

8.       Improve user's digital experience. The challenge is to create an exceptional digital experience no matter the user's skill level or digital literacy. How fast does your website load? Is information easily found? Can a person searching via mobile devices make an appointment or access a service? Can they log into the patient portal?  Using the Google Analytics dashboard, review the user experience data to tell you how people are using your website? What are the entry pages where are people using to access the site? How sticky is your website? Are people staying or dropping as soon as they find what they need, if at all, etc. Understand the bottlenecks, search patterns, and where the user experience fails and improve.

Image by Pixels from Pixabay

The year 2021 will be another challenging effort, with seismic changes lasting well into the future, not just the foreseeable future.  Ride the wave of change and own it. Focus all actions on the patient for success now and well into the future.

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.

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

The opinions expressed are my own.

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.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Increase the Power of Hospital Brand Marketing Using Your Triple Aim – Earned Media, Public Relations & Social Media


Given the extraordinary competing needs in hospitals to meet the of the healthcare marketplace from EMRs to employed physician, too new treatment and diagnostic modalities and declining reimbursements, marketing gets the short straw most of the time in those resource allocation decisions.  And that is a dangerous position to be in with a healthcare market that is a semi-retail, consumer-centric model with numerous consumer choices available for diagnosis and treatment that is far more convenient, accessible and affordable then a hospital setting.

When you have constrained marketing resources, with the requirement to have a continuous presence in the marketplace to shift healthcare consumer’s attitudes, preferences and choices, the triple combination of earned media, public relations and social media working in an integrated strategic fashion can achieve that end for you.

Make no mistake about it, combining social media, public relations, and earned media is hard. It is much more than a press release or an event. It’s about relationships, experience. Outreach and having content and information of value. That means understanding the needs of your stakeholders in an omnichannel world by developing content that meets their needs, not the need of the hospital to tell them how great the hospital with its shiny new building is, technology or smiling doctors looking skyward.

One needs to develop relationships with consumers and reporters to plant and cultivate story ideas. You must respond to the reporter's requests for more information. It takes time. It takes patience in a period where all we ask daily, "What did you do for me today?"  The payoff is providing across three channels of content that provides value. Value-focused content that gives the reporter and the healthcare consumer the reason why it’s you.

You need to find ways for reporters and editors to follow your tweets. Reporters can follow your blog or your company pages on LinkedIn, YouTube, or Facebook. That’s the value in earned media and public relations by integrating those efforts with social media. It becomes your ability to establish a powerful continuous presence by expanding human resources with the talent in your marketing operation with little financial outflow. And the payoff by combining the three in an integrated strategic fashion can be huge.

Earned media and public relations driving social media have value.

All that content that goes online comes from somewhere and goes somewhere.  A reporter writes.   A network broadcaster covers. Columnists look for it.  Content that goes out on Facebook, websites, YouTube, Twitter and electronic/print editions of magazines, daily newspapers, and specialty publications.

With the right content and strategy, public relations can become viral in social media because it has so many different outlets that turn into earned media due to the coverage.  When a news outlet or publication carries your brand messages, it makes what you are doing seems more believable.  Once the story runs about a topic and you're the first, it's much harder for your competitors to get out there with the same message.  A powerful way to differentiate yourself which also has a considerable number of aftermarket uses.

There is a bigger payoff too.

Every organization will experience a communications crisis. Taking the time to develop positive relationships with reporters, blog writers, broadcast media and others has a big payoff in a media-driven crisis. The development and cultivation of a relationship with media don't mean the story won't run. But what it can mean is the difference between a story that is balanced and fairly reported, versus a story that is one-sided against you.  As we all know, negative news travels farther and faster than positive news, which does more harm than good over the long haul.

Maybe it's time to rethink in an era of declining healthcare marketing resources traditional marketing activities, or flavor of the day social media strategies, to approaching your markets with a triple aim of earned media, public relations, and social media?

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 Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives,  and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is an established influencer. Inquires for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling   815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.


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

Sunday, June 10, 2018

It’s Not Social Media Anymore. Social Has Become the New Mainstream Media. Now what?

A funny thing happened to what was ‘social’ media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Instagram, etc., where communities of people formed and came together to share funny videos of baby’s and dogs and photos of “here are the dishes I am having for dinner” postings.

Social media platforms have evolved for better or for worse into the new mainstream media #NMM. Twitter and other platforms now drive the news cycle. A racist tweet comes out, and a TV show canceled. The last petulant Twitter escapades of POTUS make headlines. Reporters post their stories on Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard for example, before they ever hit the website or print editions. 

Reporters who previously loathed the ICYMT in an email, now use the acronym to accompany their story posts and reposts.

Action and reaction drive the news cycle. Everyone is a reporter without the benefit of an editor or having to fact check. “If it’s on the Internet and social media than it must be true.” A statement that has gone from being a standard joke to some ridiculousness posted, to the new standard of acceptability as true without verification.

What does the mean for hospitals and health systems?  

It means a new approach strategically and tactically to social media. Strategy and tactics that are proactive for media news generation that is much more serious and refined. An evolution from the look at what we do, evolving to the significant news of the day that will have an impact on your health and wellness. From pretty pictures of buildings and smiling staff, to content and messaging that will impact the news cycles. From hoping someone will follow the hospital to following reporters and editors to pitch the news.

Consider the following hypotheticals. A person decides to examine the hospital history of malpractice settlement and tweets out the findings. Someone takes the mortality rate information from CMS and computes the number of patients that die in the hospital each year and say it is from preventable medical errors.

No warning. No anonymous news tips to reporters or assignments editors. A tweet. Blog posts. A Facebook post. A YouTube commentary. The story goes viral. News media outlets pick it up, and now there is a media crisis communications situation.

Do you still think social media is unimportant or just fluff?

It’s the new mainstream media.

And if you aren’t finding ways to leverage and build relationships with reporters and key influencers using the new mainstream media, then you risk losing control of the narrative you want in the market.

It’s time to stop calling them ‘social.’

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 Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives,  and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is an established influencer. Inquires for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling   815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.


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

Sunday, June 3, 2018

What is Your Hospital Marketing Strategy Around Micro-Influencers?

All health care is local and is shaped by events nationally, regionally, and locally. Changes in healthcare policy and reimbursement 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 alternative and nearby ambulatory care settings that may or may not be hospital-based. Places of care where the healthcare consumer forms opinions and then shares in a variety of ways.

Even with all the market uncertainty, growing healthcare 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.  

Many hospitals and health systems are turning to micro-influencers to promote the brand in pithy clever campaigns. Then you see the same macro-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 on a much larger scale, it’s time for a better influencer strategy.

The age of impactful micro-influencers is here.

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

Since most of the healthcare a consumer 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.

So how can a hospital or health system influence the influencers?

What it is about is identifying who the micro-influencers are in your local market and building long-term relationships. It’s like making a friend. Would one make a friend just by tweeting or commenting on a Facebook post or reading a blog? 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, it’s about getting them to an event, getting them on the phone, 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 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 recovery efforts after a major public relations or media disaster. Micro-influencers work and live in the community and our friends, family members, community leaders, and local radio personalities, etc.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Adding an influence, the micro- influencer’s component into your integrated marketing has the potential to pay some very large long-term brand, reputation, and revenue impacts.

Why isn’t a micro-influencing strategy part of your hospital marketing?

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 Feedspot.com. 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.


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

Monday, January 25, 2016

Is the hospital pursuing engagement along three buckets?

One of the topics that hospital and health system leadership has on the plate for 2016 and the foreseeable future is a brand, consumerism and engagement. Though ranking lower than other concerns, it’s never the less requires critical business issues understanding with appropriately designed responses for survival in a retail consumer-driven medical market. 

Let’s look at healthcare consumer and patient engagement first this week.

Healthcare consumer or patient engagement is a complex undertaking that cannot be in the pigeon-hole bucket of a simple answer or technological solution.  There is no one size fits all.  But there are three buckets to look at the engagement efforts to put a useful frame of reference of what is needed.  
I think the illustration below conceptualizes the interrelatedness of the challenge.  The complexity of the situation arises given that at any one time, the individual will occupy a different place in the model and moves freely from one to the next and vies verse,  requiring different types and levels of engagement,


Some may argue that provider loyalty does not necessarily fit in the model.  I would argue that from a marketing view related to ACOs, medical homes, network referral and utilization of services, risk and value-based contracts, that engagement failure to produce brand loyalty has significant financial consequences.   Also for one’s consideration, is that today it is possible for a healthcare consumer to put together their network of care and for the most part never step foot on a provider inpatient or outpatient service.

Engagement is a one-on-one relationship building exercise that is continuous regardless of the healthcare consumer or patient’s place in the model. 

And as written before, in today’s consumer-focused retail medical market an individual is only a patient one-third of the time one receives treatment or ongoing care. Pre and post treatment, they are back to being a healthcare consumer where one can build lasting and enduring provider brand loyalty.  And that my friend comes from highly efficient and effective engagement efforts that meet the engagement needs of the individual.

The literature for years now shows the value of an engaged patient which is more compliant in treatment plans, is more highly satisfied, less likely to sue and even when the medical outcome is not optimal, still feel that they have quality medical experience.

I would postulate that in a retail medical market engagement with the external healthcare consumer is just as important as a single focus on internal engagement by the provider.

There is no one size fits all technological solution, techniques or messaging to the approach to the issue of consumer and patient engagement.  It will take multiple solutions and methods based on the need of the healthcare consumer market or individual.


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

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Are you influencing the influencer's?

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?