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

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

COVID-19, Patients, & Digital Healthcare, Leveraging the Obvious - 10 Steps for Marketing

COVID-19 and the innovation that continues to rapidly evolve in patients' access and comfort in using digital healthcare can be transformational for the hospital. For example, the pandemic has placed the patient in charge of when, where, and how hospital services are utilized.  Suppose for a moment that the pandemic has taught patients how to change utilization behavior. In that case, telemedicine and digital healthcare teach that one only needs a hospital for a few medically necessary services that cannot be provided in a freestanding ambulatory center.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The fourth wave of the digital healthcare transformation is an opportunity for the hospital.

The patient is increasingly in control. Patients control their health and health data through wearables, mobile health platforms, telemedicine, and self-tracking devices. Patients have experience expectations based on previous non-healthcare digital experiences by selecting the most appropriate digital healthcare type.

What does it all mean for marketing the hospital?

In the fourth digital healthcare wave, hospitals need to be transforming from a group of static services to the view that hospital services are living and liquid with precise engagement and service expectations.  In the fourth digital wave, the leverage for new market positioning is there to take for hospitals who understand that services are liquid with different patient expectations.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
10 Steps and implications for fully understanding the fourth wave of digital healthcare for hospitals. 

1.       Spend the money for market research to understand how the market segments, primarily how the Silver Surfers use digital health, the internet of everything, and their expectations around those channels. 

2.       Understand the experience, expectations, messaging, and perceptions of the hospital or health system digital brand. Does it meet the expectations uncovered in the market research? 

3.       View the hospital's digital brand as liquid. Hosptial leadership, physicians, and clinicians should view most hospital services not as static provided in-person in a single location, but as liquid which can be provided in any number of digital channels.  

4.       Learn from other industries, such as Amazon, Apple, Uber, and competitive innovations, that the patient has and is transferring to the hospital. Learn and emulate. 

5.       The patient moves quickly between mobile, online, wearable, and smartphone devices with expectations for a seamless digital experience.  Can the hospital or health system deliver on the expectation? 

6.       Development the internal marketing educational programs for all staff levels about the fourth digital wave. Include what it means when the patient is searching for providers and how they use the hospital's digital experience. It's not just an excellent wireless experience. 

7.       The more difficult but now essential transformation is from the hospital-centric business model to a patient-centric model. 

8.       Marketing needs to lead the active use of digital in establishing the patient experience and engagement. Digital is where patients live and expect to be engaged seamlessly across all digital platforms. 

9.       Focus marketing efforts on the hospital brand and value proposition along with value-focused communications on outcomes, experience, and expectation. 

10.   Listen to the patient digitally. What a patient or their family says in person, is often, a very different picture of what they say in the digital world. 

Hospitals have courageously innovated and changed to meet the patient needs during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There is no letting up now. The next great transformational leap awaits.

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.

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.

The opinions expressed are my own.


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.

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.

The opinions expressed are my own.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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, October 20, 2020

Building the Hospital 2021 Marketing Budget & Plan – Ten Key Strategies

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has played havoc with hospital budgets overall. Rapidly declining revenues saw marketing budgets and operations, the first department to be cut. That is understandable as every dollar saved in marketing flows directly to the bottom line. The unfortunate reality is that when the hospital begins to emerge from the pandemic's first wave, any market momentum has been lost, and marketing is in a restart position.

Image by StartupStockPhotos on Pixabay

Looking into the crystal ball, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that hospital marketing budgets, for the most part, will continue to decline as a percent of revenues and operating costs for 2021. With 2021 planning already started in some organizations or nearly ready to start, the time is now for change.

The market has shifted dramatically.

Consider the seismic shifts that took place due to the pandemic for the plan and budget development  – acceptance of telemedicine, the patient using social media and local Google searches to find alternative sources of care, and finding information other than the hospital need answers.

Marketing the hospital is no longer about us, but about the hospital rebuilding trust and what the hospital can do for the patient by providing the patient's relevant content and experience in the channel and format they want.

What that means for the hospital is now changing the marketing plan's dynamics based on past action and experience with a diminishing budget to shifting resources to be creative in reaching the patient.

By any means is not an easy task when you consider internally how hospital views marketing and what marketing accomplishes. The staff, Board, and senior leadership feel good when they see the advertisement or receive the random direct mail piece. These are old and tired mass marketing channels and techniques that do not bring the return on marketing investment that the hospital now needs.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The following ten strategies are how you need to shift the budget and marketing plan for 2021 to reach patients in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. It is not an impossible task but requires maximum use of the resources on hand and staff creativity.

Building the Hospital 2021 Marketing Budget & Plan – Ten Key Strategies 

1.       Video- It is the preferred way the patient consumes content. Video marketing arrived several years ago, but hospitals and other providers have been slow to adapt. The patient or consumer has adapted and finds video easier to consume content than reading a blog post or informational sheet. With the programs that are available for editing and your iPhone, you can create all the high-quality video you'll ever need for your website and social media use, 

2.       Content– Content marketing drives organic web traffic and growth. After SEO, a web-generated content strategy requires a content marketing plan. Too many people think that content is a long-form blog post, which has its place in any content strategy, but over 40 different content types can be developed, and having a good mixture is essential. Each form has its benefits and level of engagement. You may settle on just a couple. Please make sure you change it up to keep people engaged. 

3.       Social Media– It's where your patients are. If the pandemic has taught us anything is the patients are using social media to a greater extent. While many hospitals have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page, that doesn't mean it has been better utilized or received substantial focus. The patient now uses social media to search out provider recommendations. It never too late to improve your focus on social media and content. The hospital can no longer afford not to be where the patient is. 

4.       Voice Search– Is being adopted by patients. With the rapid growth of iPhone Siri, Amazon Echo, and Google Home, voice search is becoming the most used healthcare search method. Voice search arrived years ago mainly on mobile devices but has now entered the home in a big way. That doesn't mean you have to go fill out on optimizing for or voice search, but it means the hospital needs to get started adapting for natural language SEO.  Dive into long-tail-keyword research and how Goggle defines search intent. Write conventional style content based on how people commonly asked questions when searching for a hospital or physician, and not answering what you want them to ask. 

5.       Digital Advertising – More targeted than ever. From demographic and geofencing, the available data has allowed hospital marketers to become hyper-focused and target precisely the type of patient you want to attract for a specific service if your ads are done right. You will be social media to leverage ad drive referrals. 

6.       Online Reviews–People trust online reviews as much as they do family and friend recommendations. In April 2020, in "How Patients Use Online Reviews," by Lisa Hedges and Colin Couey from Software Advice found that in 2019, found that 72 percent of patients used inline reviews as the first step in finding a new doctor, 88 percent trust online reviews as much as a recommendation for family and friends, and 48 percent would go out of network. Now is the time to actively request reviews from your patients and manage user-generated content and display them on your website and social media. 

7.       Micro-influencers- Extend your local reach. Not the well-known celebrity or sports star that carries a lot of risk, baggage, and expense.  The focus of your influencer marketing should be the micro-influencers in your community or region. These are the individuals who people trust and listen to. Finding a local influencer who align with your services is the way they go. It's nice to have Tony Robbins or Danika Patrick, but do they align with your services? Micro-influencers will drive followers and increase the utilization of your services. 

8.       The importance of a mobile website. From bluelist.co "60+ Statistics to Help you Rank #1 in 2019",  60 percent of people search and access the internet from a mobile device. Google and other search engines favor mobile sites over those optimized for a desktop or laptop. Now that Google has announced they have mobile-first indexing, your website needs to be optimized for mobile viewing, lest you be left in the dust, and at the very bottom of searches. 

9.       Focus on how you help, not what you do. If anything, this was the most significant change to come about because of the pandemic. People don't care about technology, buildings, or a plethora of medical services and features. Patients want to know the benefit to them of what you do and how you help them. That means moving away from what to do service-wise to how you help them potentially solve a medical problem. It's not about the hospital anymore. 

10.   Optimize your website for local search. Smartphones and wearables have made ultra-precise location-based SEO one of the most significant healthcare marketers' strategies and tactics. In addition to long-tail keywords, SEO optimization also includes image optimization site maps, backlinks, meta tags, crawl errors, and more. There is no reason not to have a highly optimized landing page for the hospital.

Image by Alexas Fotos from Pixabay

The pandemic forced a significant change in hospitals and marketing in 2020. One can expect more of the same for 2021 with fewer marketing resources. These ten strategies should assist you in your budget and marketing plan development and provide you with some agility to respond to changes and not go completely dark as it happened in 2020.

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, PinterestTikTokFlipboard, and Triller -app needed no web access.

. The opinions expressed are my own.

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