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

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Importance of Communicating the Value of the Hospital During a Pandemic- Not Features


With the resurgence of COVID-19 combined with the start of the flu season and colder damper weather, and so much uncertainty, conflicting viewpoints, gaslighting, and outright false facts in society, how is the hospital and health system communicating value?

Image by Yogesh More from Pixabay

Why value and not features, benefits, and awards?

Patients and the community are scared, and there has been a loss of trust exhibited by patients not returning for care at pre-pandemic levels. With so much uncertainty, is it time to move healthcare marketing beyond "all about us" to the value and benefit brought to the patient and community?

Unless you are a new provider in the market, features and services or vague quality and excellence claims may be falling on deaf ears. 

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

It's about value, benefit, price, and convenience on the patient's terms in today's world.

It's about answering the patient's question of trust and benefit of using you. 

In today's world, you need to have a compelling value proposition with messaging that provides clear and understandable benefits to patients.

Enter Value Marketing

Value marketing makes the case to your patients how you are their partner in solving their medical problem, offering a solution, giving results, and even make them satisfied to whatever extent possible.

Value marketing is about a creative exchange between the patient and the hospital in the marketplace. It is a dynamic transaction that continually changes based on the patient and community needs compared to what the hospital, or physician for that matter, offers.

Change the message from communicating what is done every day to the value and benefit of medical services and the positive impact on health.

Instead of talking about programs and services that everybody else has, talk about the value and benefits of those same programs and services and what they bring to the patient, i.e., outcomes, price, experience, and convenience.

As an alternative to saying we have the latest high-tech gizmo, talk about the value and benefit of what that latest most fantastic high-tech gizmo brings to the patient.

As a substitute to just communicating the Best Hospitals or 100 Top Hospitals awards for care, for example, talk to your patient and community about the value and benefit of that award by putting context around the content.

Stop talking at your audiences, speak to them by providing meaningful content that has context, delivered to them when they want it, on the device and format desired—message patients by offering value-based solutions to their healthcare needs. 

Image by Lisa Caroselli from Pixabay


The patient desperately wants to trust and return for care. But they need proof it's safe. They need to know the value and benefit for them, not the hospital.

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, and now TikTok. 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, September 22, 2020

The Time Has Come to Make Hospital Marketing Sticky, Here’s How

With all the things that hospital leadership have on their plates and keeping them up at night, there is one area that could improve their marketing. That is making the hospital marketing stickier by being more creative.

Image by ptra from Pixabay

Creativity in hospital marketing is not a sin. 

Now that being said, the creative and production values of cable and broadcast television advertisements are particularly good and of excellent quality for the most part. Where the hospital marketing fails is on the creative side is with email, digital, paid social, print advertisements, and direct mail. 

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 a change. 

To grow and thrive in the experience economy, it means moving from traditional marketing to experiential marketing that addresses the needs of and meets the experience expectations of the patient. Stickier marketing is even more important during a pandemic when trust is low, and people are not returning to healthcare providers. The hospital experience has changed, and hospitals need to be creative on how to address and communicate that change. 


Image by Gerd Atlmann from Pixabay

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

Social media is about amplification and your ability to amplify the experience and brand messaging.  

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

1.       Understand fully and completely, the healthcare consumer and person experience. There are over 147 touchpoints for patient experience within 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 occasion touchpoint with the right call-to-action. 

2.       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, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, etc., by focusing on the experience, not features, and benefits. Be visual. Be compelling. 

3.       Identify and work with key influencers.  Local influencers can provide amplification of your message through social media. Encourage user-generated content. 

4.       Testimonials about the experience of care and engagement from patients and families are needed for the digital stories as proof points. 

5.       Integrate and communicate the value of the brand, key brand messages, and brand promise across all channels. 

6.       Use social media and SEO to amplify your message. Influencer’s and patient’s providing testimonials need to complete online reviews to raise your placement in Google and other search engine results. 

7.       Integrate the information and experience across all channels and platforms the connected patient uses- desktop, smartphone, tablet, etc. for a seamless experience. No disconnects. The patient moves freely between all devices, now expecting the same experience on all of them. 

8.       Traditional marketing now needs to focus more on price, outcomes, experience, and engagement.  No more pretty building, smiling doctors, shiny new equipment. 

9.       Teach employees how to use their social media channels to amplify the provider. 

10.   Teach the healthcare organization that marketing today is no longer about transactions but value.  Transactions will come after the value is understood.

Some will say that marketing has no place in the experience or engagement management process.  When you look at that advice, what success have you had in managing the experience and engaging the patient on their terms, not the hospitals? Or, are you just treading water until the next healthcare market catches you unawares. 

There is no escaping or slowing down the experience economy as it overtakes providers—time to make the hospital marketing stickier. 

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, and now TikTok. 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.



Monday, July 6, 2020

Because Of COVID-19, Continuous Ongoing Patient Engagement Is The New Reality

Hospitals and health systems, as a direct result of the pandemic, needed to engage patients, employees, and the community continuously. Messages were varied for each audience, but the current situation provided the opportunity as never before for the continuous engagement of the patient on a meaningful level. There is no reason why those engagement efforts should stop.

What should be apparent in the new reality of healthcare, as an unintended consequence of the ongoing pandemic is that patient engagement is not a part-time or some of the time activity. What it should be viewed as is the opportunity to continue to create, engage, foster, and nourish an enduring relationship with those individuals and families.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

How healthcare is delivered changed exponentially, and now looks more like a distributive computer network, where the diagnosis and treatment were “distributed” out of the hospital or system. Patients had a taste of the new healthcare reality, for example, with telemedicine that was easily accessible, convenient, effective, and affordable. As a result, most hospitals and physicians are struggling with getting patients to return for care. Some of the disappearing patients are attributed to fear, others out of having experienced alternative methods for care that better met their needs.

The old ways of engagement don’t work anymore.

Image by Alexas Fotos from Pixabay

That is a scary proposition for some healthcare organizations. I have already seen the old pre-pandemic engagement messaging come back in the urban market of my residence.  It’s almost as if nothing ever happened, and we can all go back now to the way it was.

The Coronavirus pandemic is still a public health crisis. The patient hears that intense messaging across all sources of news and social media day in and day out.  With fear, anxiety, and uncertainty in their mind, why would you change your COVID-19 engagement and messaging strategies? 

You can’t abandon the recent efforts and success at engagement and return to the past.

The continuous ongoing engagement of the hospital and health system with patients should now be the number one job of the hospital.

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, and Facebook. Opinions expressed are my own.

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




Sunday, August 5, 2018

Dark Social- What You Can’t See, Can Hurt Your Hospital

Bright social, where you can see your handiwork, and revel in the brilliance of your content in attempts to influence the choice of the healthcare consumer and patients in selecting the hospital and physicians for treatment could be falling way short.

Falling short you say?

Not entirely mind you, but with the changes in all of the social media platforms as a result of fake news, phony followers, misuse of user data, etc.,  Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and other social media platforms as restrictive content publishing houses only represents one-third of all the activity in social media on the Internet of Things (IoT).

Where in the world is this going?

Two-thirds of internet social media activity occurs in what has been termed dark social. I am not speaking of the nefarious activities of drug dealers, gun runners, blackmailers, etc. using TOR or another program that allows one to search the web anonymously. I am referring to all the social media activities that can’t be traced such as email link sharing, some applications, and one-on-one messaging.

Now what?

For example, a healthcare consumer is looking for a new physician or hospital.   The individual researches on the IoT, speaks with work colleagues and others, reads some published content about the brilliance of the physician or the hospital, and utilizes several social media platforms. 

But in this process, friends and others may send an email, might use Facebook Messenger. Google Hangouts or WhatsApp Messenger, send an SMS text with a link to a source of information or solution that would be of interest. It is the method of sharing information that makes it dark and potentially untraceable.

And what is of interest to me at least, is not the quantity of dark social traffic, but the quality of that sharing traffic that goes on unseen.

Think about this for a moment.

How important is the recommendation from someone you know about a service or solution when you receive a link to a website or shares some meaningful information? It’s one-on-one messaging as compared to the mass messaging which has some traits of personalization, but still a mass-market message.

Therein lays the opportunity. Remember all the talk and activity about word-of-mouth marketing that was always the perceived key to success over the years? Well, word-of-mouth marketing hasn’t gone away, it’s just gone dark. 

Pun intended.

So how do you reach the two-thirds of the internet that are currently not visible to you? Most marketers use some form of marketing automation providing us at least the fundamental information of  “shared.” Seeing the word “SHARED” can be the equivalent of shouting the word  “squirrel” and having the dog reaction of quickly turning around in the Disney movie Up.  Does your neck hurt yet?

But by who and where was it shared?

Was it shared externally or internally in the recipient’s organization?  Was it shared with a supportive recommendation message, or, reaching high in the chuckle factor? Important to know as dark sharing impacts and influences the healthcare consumer's buyer’s journey.

Changing how we track what’s going on.

We are early in the process of discovering the hidden treasure trove of data in dark social, but there are ways to begin to understand how your information is being shared and used.

It’s all about the embedded code.

One way is to add trackable code to URLs someone may copy and paste in messages. Another way is to add trackable code to your website content for when it is copied and pasted.  When publishers participate with your short trackable code is added to any text for when it is copied and pasted into a message.

It’s early, and more ways are being developed to track the activity on dark social. But all marketers need to begin to understand and respond to the influence of dark social on their marketing and find ways to see to be able to leverage that which is unseen.

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 Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing & 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, call Michael at 815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, 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.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Extra, extra, read all about it. Hospitals Discover Patient Brand Evangelist Influencer Marketing

Do you know who your patient hospital brand evangelists are? I ask this question for a very important reason.  In an age of little provider differentiation in the retail medical marketplace with me-too messaging, how is a healthcare consumer to make a choice?

Now that being said, I realize that many healthcare leaders will dispute the above statement.  But the fact is it is little if any messaging differentiation.  I was there in the same place but made a conscious effort to move away from the “me too” messaging.

So where am I going with this?

Healthcare consumers and patients are demanding price and quality transparency, as is CMS, employers, and other key constituents. Maybe what they want is more price certainty and to know what the value is they are receiving for the dollar paid?  But few in the hospital or health system segment are listening to the needs and demands of the healthcare consumer. Then they howl loudly than a third-party releases data that is publically available on the hospitals or health systems prices and quality.

Consider for a moment. 
1.       Consumers of healthcare are shopping.
2.       Consumers are now paying over one-third of the cost of care out of pocket.
3.       A consumer uses the internet and social media 41 percent of the time in gathering information to make provider choice.

And the answer by hospitals and health systems is marketing trust our expertise, buildings, and technology with messages that are full of ambiguous claims and statements.

Now that being said, kudos to UChicago Medicine and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital for leading the way in the Chicago healthcare market by bucking that trend. They comprehend the value of the patient as a brand evangelist and influencer. And that is gratifying to me as a topic I have been writing about for a few years now. But let me be clear, I in no way claim any influence in the hospitals or their agency’s marketing direction. It’s nice to be proven right.

For the rest of the hospitals and health systems that do not yet comprehend the value and effectiveness of the patient as brand evangelist and influence, this is for you.

Let me give you an example. When employed as the Regional Director of Marketing at a multihospital health system, I developed with BVK the Third Opinion Oncology campaign.  Upon an individual receiving a cancer diagnosis, the next step is the second medical opinion.  But we found that there was a third step. The patient then talks to everyone and anyone that went through that cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Instead of going to the market with a look at our great oncologists, technology, expertise and it’s all about your messaging, we went in a very different direction. The campaign focused on three individuals with common cancer diagnoses of breast, colon, and prostate. By the way, it was hard to find those three brand evangelists. 

The simple message-  “Ask me how I beat breast cancer,” Jane@hosptial.org with a professional photo of the individual, email, print, billboard, and direct mail. Calls and emails went to my RN based call center. Before the campaign launch, a detailed Q&A with the three individuals, clinicians, and oncologists to identify the type of questions they had and the answers.  When a question came in that, we did not have an answer for we went back to the individuals and clinicians for an answer.

The entire campaign pulled the consumer to the hospital, pushed through to the oncologist, then pulled the oncologist to the hospital.

I did not message quality, technology, drugs, surgery; we care about you or anything else. I didn't say best and brightest; it’s all about you, or we are the only choices. Those are arrogant and pejorative vague claims that are indefensible. One message that was clear and unambiguous offer a solution to a serious medical situation. Answering healthcare consumer questions that are life and death in nature to real questions from real consumers.

The use of a patient brand evangelist differentiated the systems oncology services and established a position in the market that no other provider could claim.  The campaign drove appropriate utilization, built the oncologist practices, and increased hospital revenue, market share, and brand awareness.

And all of that was before a change in the healthcare market in 2006. Oh my, did I say 2006?  Twelve years ago?  What is old is new. Today the stake is even higher, and the hospital or health system brand needs patent evangelists and influencers.

The hospital of 2018 operates in a far different healthcare market than in 2006. But the idea and principles are the same. In many ways, it's even more important today than yesterday. Brand value, outcome, experience, and engagement are everything today.

Sometimes it's not rocket science, but the ability to adapt and change from past practices.  If I were on the hospital side in marketing, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

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 inquiries 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.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Is your hospital marketing agile?

Agile Marketing is a corporate buzzword being thrown around a lot lately.  But unless you’re familiar with the Agile Software Development process which Agile Marketing is adapted from, is much more than what some may think means doing something fast and shifting tactical marketing on a dime.

At its heart, Agile Marketing is a tactical marketing approach in which teams identify and focus their collective efforts on high-value projects, complete those projects cooperatively, measure the impact, and then continuously and incrementally improve the results over time.

Hardly a short tactical strike as some may think.

So what are the hallmarks of an Agile Marketing organization? 
1.       Responding to change instead of following a plan. 
2.       Rapid tactical iterations over big loud campaigns. 
3.       Testing and data over opinions and conventions. 
4.       Many small experiments over a few large bets. 
5.        A focus on individuals and interactions, not target markets. 
6.       Collaboration over silos and hierarchy.

I would maintain that in a healthcare provider B2C environment, where technological developments, new entrants, and shifting market dynamics are creating future uncertainty, is an excellent place for Agile Marketing.

Agile marketing and even what some are terming Agile Social Media is sustainable marketing that requires you to keep a constant pace and pipeline.  It also requires a very high degree of integration between the marketing and clinical, physicians  and senior leadership

Marketing programs are delivered from every couple of weeks to a couple of months with a bias towards the shorter cycles. Successful Agile Marketing also requires the organization to learn how to execute PDCA or OODA feedback loops. Failure is acceptable as long as one does not make the same marketing mistake twice.

The moral of the story here is that Agile Marketing is not as simple as some may think it is, or that they have a clear understanding of the concept.

Unless marketing can be organized in the provider into focused teams with collaborative input from other critical areas focusing on the individuals and interactions, it’s not Agile Marketing.

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.

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

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Nine Strategies in Engagement & Experience for the New Reality Demanded by the Insured Consumer & Patient.

It’s the consumer demand for the Amazon experience that is beginning to drive expectations and experience in health care.  Secondary to the headline question is, are healthcare providers prepared for that new marketing reality?

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 comprised of hit or miss events.  My goodness, there are over 147 engagement and experience touchpoints with the insured consumer and patient with the hospital or health system. So when all of the interruptive outbound marketing that goes on with silly messaging of we have the best doctors, our nurses care more, etc., no wonder the insured consumer and patient roll their eyes during the engagement and experience process when reality meets fantasy. 

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.  

A scary proposition for some healthcare organizations as it means being accountable and responsible to those you serve and meeting their needs by delivering on the brand promise day in and day out
.    
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 more than $350 billion out-of-pocket for insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles.   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 retail medical market.  Though others will tell you that it’s all about the 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 health care consumer can interact with you anyway 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 necessary to keep the patient engaged. That doesn't mean cash. Look to the gaming industry for gaming technology and gaming prediction for ways to participate without money. 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 be 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 back-to-basics CRM understanding the gender, age, integration of risk assessments, culture, etc.  One cannot engage the insured consumer or patient unless there is intimate knowledge about them, their needs, and how to tailor the information.

6. Test and measure. 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 vendor choices.   The healthcare consumer and patient are inviting healthcare organizations to engage them all the time.

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

9. Time it right, and add value.  If your 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. before.

If you can come to grips with the market reality that a hospital is needed for three things -emergency care, intensive care, and treatment for complex acute medical conditions, then you’d get away from the nonsense that is senior leadership-driven that goes in hospital marketing today. Focus on engagement and experience so your more than three things to the insured consumer or patient.

Can you hear me now?


That's why you engage all of the time.  

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ten Steps to Make Hospital Marketing Sticker.

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.

With the economic shift from a product and service economy to an experience economy, providers are at a clear disadvantage by continuing to market like it is the 1990s.  Now that being said, it’s not all providers, but the vast majority.  

Being paid for the production of care in the fee-for-service model is a product and service approach to healthcare.  Though the payment mechanism is changing, little has changed in provider marketing.  

A vast majority of healthcare providers still taking the product marketing features approach. Notice that I did not say features and benefits marketing. Providers only go halfway choosing features or warm fuzzy improbable benefits but not both in their marketing.  I have yet to see a provider or provider system provide me with compelling reasons for the advantages of using them. 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 remember what they saw on social media or the Internet. The healthcare consumer is talking and searching for healthcare information to learn and make choices. 

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

Now what?

Time for a 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 the 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 efficient will be social media.

Here are ten new marketing rules in an experience economy for making provider marketing stickier: 
1.       Understand fully and comprehensively the healthcare consumer and person experience. With over 147 touch-points for the customer 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. 
2.       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 website to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, etc., focus on the experience. Be visual. Be compelling. 
3.       Identify and work with the leading influencers.  Providers need community influencers to amplify the message through social media. Encourage user-generated content. 
4.       Develop testimonials about the experience of care and engagement from patients and healthcare consumers. 
5.       Integrate and communicate the value of the brand, key brand messages and brand promise across all channels. 
6.       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. 
7.       Integrate the information and experience across all channels and platforms that consumers will use- desktop, 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. 
8.       Traditional marketing needs to focus more on the price, outcomes, experience, and drive engagement.  No more buildings, smiling doctors, shiny new equipment.  
9.       Teach employees how to use their social media channels to amplify the provider. 
10.   Show a healthcare organization that marketing today is no longer about transactions but value.  Transactions will come after the value is understood.

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

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.


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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Are You Using a Hospital Clinical Service Line Brand Evangelist for Differentiation?

Do you know who your patient hospital brand, evangelists are? I ask this question for a critical reason.  In an age of little provider differentiation in the actual retail medical marketplace with me-too messaging, how is a healthcare consumer to make a choice?

Now that being said, I realize that many health care leaders will dispute the above statement.  But the fact is is that there is little if any messaging differentiation.  I knew as I was there too but made a conscious effort to move away from the “me too” messaging. And that was in the early 2000s.

So where am I going with this?

Consumers are demanding price and quality transparency. 

Maybe in reality what they want is more cost certainty and knowing what the value is they are receiving for the dollar paid?  But few in hospitals or health systems are listening to the needs and demands of the healthcare consumer. Then they howl loudly than a third party releases data that is publically available on the hospitals or health systems prices and quality.

Consumers of healthcare are shopping.

Consumers are now paying one-third of the cost of care out of pocket.

An individual uses the internet and social media 41 percent of the time in gathering information to make provider choice.

Consumers no longer rely on word of mouth to choose doctors and hospitals but on the Internet of things and social sharing sites.

And the answer by hospitals and health systems is to market the “trust our expertise” with messages that are full of vague claims and statements.

One way to answer those questions is through the use of patient testimonials, aka the clinical service line brand evangelist. 

Let me give you an example. When at the multihospital health system, I developed The Third Opinion Oncology campaign.  Upon an individual receiving a cancer diagnosis, the next step is the second medical opinion.  But we found that there was a third phase. The patient then talks to everyone and anyone that went through that cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Instead of going to the market with a look at our great oncologists, technology, expertise and it’s all about your messaging, we went in a very different direction. The campaign focused on three individuals along with common cancer diagnoses of breast, colon, and prostate. By the way, it was hard to find those three brand evangelists. That tells one a lot about the hospital brand and experience too.

The simple message-  “Ask me how I beat breast cancer,”  Jane@hosptial.org with a professional photo of the individual, email, print, billboard, and direct mail. Calls and emails went to my RN based call center. Before the campaign launch, a detailed Q&A was developed and conducted with the three individuals, clinicians and oncologists to identify the type of questions they had and the answers.  When a question came in that, we did not have any answer for we went back to the individuals and clinicians for a reply.

The entire campaign pulled the consumer to the hospital, pushed through to the oncologist, then pulled the oncologist to the hospital.

I did not message quality, technology, drugs, surgery; we care about you or anything else. I didn't say best and brightest; it’s all about you, or we are the only choices. Those are arrogant and pejorative vague claims that are indefensible. One message that was clear and unambiguous offer a solution to a serious medical situation bu providing alternatives and choices by clearly answering health-related consumer questions that are life and death in nature.

The use of a patient brand evangelist clearly differentiated the systems oncology services and established a position in the market that no other provider could claim.  The campaign drove appropriate utilization, built the oncologist practices, and increased hospital revenue, market share, and brand awareness.

And all of that was before a change in the market that is becoming retail medical in nature.  Today the stake is even higher, and the hospital or health system brand needs to mean more than ever.

The hospital of 2017  operates in a market that is more value and risk than fee-for-service. And where the consumer has a growing portion of the expense and choice of providers brand and value is everything.

Changing your marketing today from ambiguous we are all the same features and benefits marketing to patient brand evangelists and solutions marketing, will set one up for success whatever the payment system is.  A strong established brand will be in narrow networks, the provider of choice in consumer-driven exchange plans, and the dominant provider in the market.

What one does today in creating an indelible hospital or system brand will impact tomorrow's growth, revenue, and profitability.

Is it that hard to be responsive to a consumer's need for healthcare problem solutions? 

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.

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