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

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Eight Strategic Imperatives for Hospital Marketers in 2021

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay.

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

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

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

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image by Pixels from Pixabay

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

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters, is read in 52 countries and is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by 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 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller.

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

The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, 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 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 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.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Can healthcare providers become customer focused enterprises?

There has been a lot of buzz this past week in industry publications, about hospitals and health systems seeing customer-centricity as being a viable business strategy for growth and success.  It began with the American Hospital Association meeting reported in the article Treating Patients as Consumers is a Growing Strategy, H&HN January 21, 2015, by Paul Barr.

But let’s expand the discussion from technology and service development focus, to catch up with the market shifting to a semi-retail model of medicine, driven by market innovation and the influence of more sophisticated healthcare consumer, to what it means absent the innovation and hiring people from consumer-focused retail industries.

What does it mean to develop and execute a strategy to treat patients as customers?
It’s not an easy question to answer.  I have worked for enough hospitals, health systems, and vendors in leadership positions to live through the declarations of customers or even sales centricity. It’s more than hiring new talent. It’s more than just catching up and using technology more efficiently.  It is a whole lot more than declaring it’s all about the customer.

It all starts with the culture.

Customer centricity doesn’t happen overnight, especially in healthcare enterprises that have had an internal instead of external focus. It isn’t driven by technology, though that is a tactic and solution. It’s not just a one and done training program. It’s not a line in the business or strategic plan.
 It really starts and ends with the culture and focus of the organization.

An organization can not treat patients or healthcare consumer as a customer, nor be successful in the endeavor if the very soul of the healthcare enterprise leadership, focus, and culture is not devoted to the customer.

It’s all about the healthcare consumer or patient. The only thing that matters is meeting the needs of the patient or the healthcare consumer.  It’s not about the hospital or health system in many ways.  Focusing on and meeting the needs of the customer is the single most important trait and hallmark of successful companies. And that lesson I learned from working at Walgreens corporate. Walgreens is on to something when you look at a $76 the billion-plus international retail company, transforming into a health care company.

The singular focus on meeting the health care needs of the healthcare consumer or patient, or shopper for that matter, brings growth and revenue. Period.

Are you really ready to make that transformation? And I ask that question because in healthcare nothing is ever really new. I can remember from the 1990s when hospitals and health systems were throwing the words “patients as customers” around like they were M&Ms. So here we are and its 2015, still talking about customer-centricity around the healthcare consumer or patient.

The healthcare enterprise can talk all it wants about treating patients as consumers. But unless it starts with the cultural transformation and a singular focus on meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer or patient, then all the technology, new hires, new clinical programs and delivery of care is just another expensive undertaking.

The more things change, the more they stay the same I guess.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Can Google Glass improve the patient experience?

Hospitals and health systems, after some early adapters innovated in the use of Google Glass by physicians in the ER and with in-office patient examinations and treatment, by  having real time consults with specialists, are slowly moving to the use of this innovative technology. Which begs the question for me; can Google Glass be used to improve the patient experience?  

If you think about a physician wearing Google Glass and transmitting data and images, then why not make the leap and consider giving the healthcare consumer/patient or even family member/visitor for that matter, the same technology to use during an inpatient or outpatient encounter?

The health consumer/patient experience is not linear. It is the sum total of every individual experience across the healthcare encounter that occurs. There are a lot of steps in the patient experience and mostly the analysis is all retrospective – market research, patient interviews, focus groups, patient satisfaction data etc. And the patient experience improvement process is usually focused on one or two aspects of the patient experience, not the entire encounter.

Now consider for maybe the first time, the availability of using an innovative technology developed for the general public, used by the patient to provide real-time data on the patient experience from the eyes of the healthcare consumer/patient.  Powerful.

Instead of looking at one single aspect, you can gain valuable insight into the entire experience while retaining the ability to zero in from the data on one aspect to the patient experience. Contemplate for a moment Google Glass use as a potentially good way to find out how nurse’s, physician’s and other caregiver’s are engaging and talking to the patient.  Could even discover which caregivers are or are not washing their hands pre and post encounter?  What would it means to have the availability of real time data from the patent from their view and what happened when the patient fell?

Seems to me that there are some great uses for Google Glass for improving healthcare, be it the experience or treatment.

Now that being said, the naysayers will probably use HIPPA or some advice from attorneys about risk and exposure that a hospital or health system can’t give Google Glass to patients. I could see some valid concerns, but nothing that cannot be overcome.

After all it’s about improving the experience and care isn’t it?  Or is it still in one’s mind all about the hospital or health system, and not the healthcare consumer/patient?

Google Glass may be just the prescription the doctor ordered.

The fastpitch softball season has come to a close as well as my daughter’s 10 year playing career. Hope springs eternal that she will change her mind and play in college.  The 16U A USSA Fastpitch Softball World Series in Overland Park, Kansas as a lot of fun. Alex pitched well and went 3-2 in games she pitched and the team went 4-3 overall.  The official results have them ranked in the top 20 in the 17th spot out of 40 teams.  Pretty good really!  Now on to college visits, high school graduation and a new chapter in her life.  Now where did I put that honey do list?