Monday, April 19, 2021

Lessons from the Field – Five Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Change Provider & Vendor Marketing

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Everybody talks about Artificial Intelligence (AI), but what does that mean for the healthcare provider and vendor marketing? AI is already with us as a part of our everyday lives; look at Alexi, Siri, Google Home, and Cortana. These devices already know what we want and assist us in navigating a complex world at home, at work, and in our play. They help us search for medical services and vendors who provide medical products and services.

If you think about it, AI will have a profound effect on how hospitals anticipate the needs of and engage with patients and how vendors create a new prospect journey independent of sales.

At some point, direct contact with an individual, be it a physician, clinician, or salesperson, will come into play, as human touch will always be needed. But for sales, prospecting for new customers will become less about cold calling and existing client referrals, to responding to well-developed leads uncovered by the buyer's behavior and need, based on more data than anyone can synthesize in near real-time.

If you consider the advantages of AI in managing the engagement and experience of the patient or prospect journey, then marketing moves from the realm of interruptive marketing for creating awareness and value to driving interest with more compelling content and digital strategies that drive patient experience and engagement.

While on the other side of the healthcare marketing AI dime for vendors, prospects are not merely just someone looking for something, but become engaged, gaining an understanding of the value you offer and how well your product or service meets their needs. After all, isn't that three-quarter of the struggle sales face every day?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Healthcare provider and vendor marketing will change in the following five ways. 

1.       AI will streamline marketing and make it more efficient. With AI all around us in apps, chatbots, and content marketing, think of how it will transform the patient and prospect customer experience (CX) interaction and journey. 

2.       AI will allow marketing to delve deeper than ever before into the persona and psyche of the target individual. AI is the ultimate individualized personalization of the digital experience, engagement, and content. Consider Google Duplex, an AI tool that can make phone calls on your behalf, book appointments, and even make restaurant reservations in specific situations. 

3.       AI marketing will help marketers create new workflows, optimize marketing spending, ease content creation, augment product feeds with image recognition, drive predictive analytics and create powerful new marketing strategies.  

4.       AI applications will be used with a highly targeted digital advertisement strategy at the precise moment when a patient's or prospect's behavior indicates that they are most likely to need healthcare services or to be interested in purchasing your product or service.  

5.       AI will force a shake-out of the provider and vendor healthcare market to eliminate those providers and vendors who cannot recognize, adapt, change and implement AI in their marketing and sales efforts.

Image by George Tudor from Pixabay

For some time now, marketers have looked to the day when AI marketing tools, big data, and machine learning become part of our everyday lives. That day is here, and it's taking over marketing in forward-thinking companies.

The new question for healthcare marketing becomes, as AI technology grows and evolves, are you ready to reshape your provider or vendor marketing strategy?

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 influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. 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. Use 815-351-0671 to message me on WhatsApp or Telegram for safe and secure end-to-end message encryption. Video conferencing available via Zoom, Goggle Hangouts, and for Skype use live:michael0753_2.

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 in the blog sidebar. You will not receive additional general or specific marketing emails.

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, April 13, 2021

Lessons from the Field – We’re Patient-Focused, But……

 
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

For several years now, hospitals and other providers have marketed to patients that they are patient-focused using any number of brand tag lines. Cleaver and memorable in most cases, the brand taglines, in a few short marketing communications messages, hit various marketing channels. You can replace healthcare providers with vendors and patient-focused with customer-focused for the same result.

I am not writing today about how you become patient or customer-focused. Previous blog posts have addressed the characteristics and mechanics of what it takes to be patient or customer-focused. If you are interested, you can read “Patient & Customer Centricity is Culture-Driven, Not Program Driven” http://bit.ly/2PVtRLW, and Your Definitive Guide for Making a Hospital Patient-focused in a Pandemic World https://bit.ly/2Go5Ri5.”

Today is more concerning what does it mean to say you are patient or customer-focused. And in saying “we’re patient or customer-focused,” what does that mean in the context of strategic planning and business decisions you make.

Having worked for both providers and vendors locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally, the lesson about placing a line-in-the-sand internally and externally regarding patient and customer-centricity are many. Those lessons are summarized this way.

Image by Gred Altmann from Pixabay

We’re Patient Focused.

But

The 200 standard procedure searchable pricing information mandated by CMS is hidden and hard to find on the website.

We’re Patient Focused.

But

Communication with patients, employees, physicians, or customers are inconsistent and unclear.

We’re Patient Focused.

But

You don’t provide continuous meaningful information and training internally on service excellence.

We’re Patient Focused.

But

Have no interest in creating the culture or organizational structures, policies, and procedures to be patient-focused.

We’re Patient Focused.

But

We have to tell you to rate us high on any patient or customer satisfaction survey.

We’re Patient Focused.

But

We don’t consistently communicate clearly with family and friends.

We’re Patient Focused.

But

When it’s time to pay the bill, you’ll be left on your own to figure out our programs.

We’re Patient Focused.

But

We won’t create the options to access more convenient and accessible care based on your schedule.

We’re Patient Focused.

But

Make our resource allocation and staffing decisions for our convenience and needs, not yours.

We’re Patient Focused. It means you don’t get to pick when you’re patient-focused.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay
Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters, is read in 52 countries and is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow American College of Healthcare Executives. An influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. 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 in the blog sidebar. You will not receive additional general or specific marketing emails.

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.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Does Your Hospital Marketing Experience for the Patient Measure Up?

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Let me repeat the headline a little differently.

Is the patient's hospital marketing experience, given its importance as a first-touch experience and engagement opportunity, been forgotten? Given all that has been and continues to be written about experience and engagement, how the patient experiences the hospitals' marketing efforts, as they align with the patient's experience and engagement expectations, could cause a disconnect for the patient and in the market.

Case in point.

I just had my annual physical with my PCP. Even though there was no indication of vascular disease, she thought it was fruitful to have a vascular scan. Since there was no indication, my PPO would not pay. My PCP referred me to a screening service that regularly provides vascular scans at a discounted cash price to drive utilization not affiliated with the hospital. The service understands that in retail health, the most effective source of referrals will be the PCP.

Fortuitously, a $99 vascular scan offered by the health system at one of their hospitals I have utilized with my PCP for multiple years. Since this is an out-of-pocket cash expenditure, I decided to call the toll-free number and take advantage of an entity that I knew.

I did consider, however briefly, why my PCP was not aware of these services and could have made a direct referral. But that is a decision for another day.

Image by AnnaliseArt from Pixabay
The patient marketing experience journey.

My utilization decision was based on the advertisement and my previous engagement and experience with the health system hospital. That first touch direct mail experience was the beginning of the hospital marketing experience. It is also where the positive marketing experience ended.

The multiple expectation and experience journey fails.

I called the number which went to the system marketing call center. I explained why I was calling because the call center person was not fully versed in the program. Providing some background information on the nature of my call was needed to inform the staff. I had to explain that I had been using the system for many years and wanted to take advantage of the offer and specified the most convenient location.

Once the call center staff found the screening questions, the operator quickly rattled off the ten-digit phone number for central scheduling for no apparent reason. There was no forewarning that I needed to write down the number.

The less-than-optimal patient experience and engagement journey continues.

Now comes the cold transfer to central scheduling. I now must explain all over again why I was calling. Now the operator in central scheduling is surprised because this is supposed to be a warm transfer from marketing. Then here comes the please hold request while I find the screening questions. Which I had already been asked and answered. Then comes the interesting remark by central scheduling that she has never scheduled one before. Did I need to know that?  Better yet, I did learn that no one has ever called to schedule a screening. I was the first!

The screening could be accomplished in a location convenient to me, and it was the first positive marketing experience in this journey.  Then the experience went negative. No Saturdays were offered. I couldn't schedule. As stated by the operator for Tuesdays, and only morning appointments were available. We finally landed on a Wednesday a couple of weeks out, so I could rearrange my schedule to fit their schedule.

The second positive experience in all of this was that as a former patient of the health system, much of my information was already available, and all I needed to do was confirm some of the detail.

I schedule the appointment and then hear a litany of pretest prep that I need to do with no email follow-up confirming the appointment or providing me with written information. Two days later, I receive an automated phone call reminding me about my appointment two weeks out.

The point of this exercise was to illustrate how vital the marketing engagement and experience channel is for the patient. If you are playing in retail healthcare, please get your CPG marketing skillset together, and understand that it's all about the patient and nothing about you.

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

The marketing experience is most often the first touchpoint of a patient's interaction with the hospital or health system.

Healthcare has changed in ways that were unimaginable one year ago due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Now, the patient has more choice and control. The hospital can't afford any longer not to have the best possible marketing experience and engagement. There are no more second chances. You cannot afford not to get it right. Those days are long gone.

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 influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. 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 in the blog sidebar. You will not receive additional general or specific marketing emails.

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, March 30, 2021

Patient Engagement Emails - 10 Effective Design Considerations to Engage Patients

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Email

I can see your eyes glaze over.  Done correctly, the hospital has an underutilized, efficient, and effective tool at its disposal to engage and manage patient expectations. Email also offers a cost-effective way to implement an ongoing engagement strategy when combined with social media. Email can provide relevant medical information, health and wellness tips, and practices to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic to maintain continuous engagement. Email is one of the few mechanisms that hospitals can control. It's a marketing tool to build brand loyalty, enhance the experience, and engage.

Better than outbound interruptive marketing, where your general messaging reaches the broadest possible audience hoping that someone will respond, email is direct messaging to the patient, and should be a part of your inbound marketing program.

But it just not a mail merge program to put a name at the top.

And it's not buying an email list.  

A word of caution is in order. Never buy an email list.  These people have not consented to receive an email from the vendor.  Purchased lists damage the hospital brand, risks labeling for the hospitals as a spammer, ending up in the junk folder or blocked. Given enough undeliverable emails, others marked as spam and blocked, at some point, your Internet Service Providers will flag your emails as spam, impacting your ability to send emails.

And emails marked as spam and unopened will eventually affect the deliverability of the email. Then comes the contacting of patients requesting the whitelisting of the email address. A temporary fix at best, they need to repair the content, design, and CTAs to make them more responsive to the receiver.

In the interest of blog readability, I won't go into all the detail of how to create a successful hospital email program.  But what I will do is provide some tips for creating effective, and engaging patient emails.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

10 Steps to start the journey to an engaging email 

1.       Start with a primary goal. Deliveries, clicks, and open are metrics, not goals. What do you want the email to accomplish? Send someone to the patient portal? Attend a webinar?  Download some helpful information? Make the goal measurable. 

2.       Write the copy. One of the few controllable factors in an email by the marketer is the copy. But structure and design are crucial, and it doesn't matter how excellent the copy is if the design is all wrong. Every point of text should support the goal. 

3.       Write for scan-ability. Use the right tone. Personalize when appropriate. Proofread, proofread and then proofread some more. 

4.       Use the inverted pyramid structure to - grab attention, build anticipation, call-to-action. 

5.       Have only one call-to-action.  You may have several links in an email, but each link must lead to where you want the reader to go.  Multiple CTAs confuse the reader and result in inaction.  But in case you can't help yourself with numerous CTAs, stack your content.  In the event of emails, the choice is not okay. The only difference is a newsletter, but that is a subject for another time. 

6.       The design creates a consistent user experience for everyone who receives your email. The email design also helps to remove the friction in delivering your email. You can leverage branding and recognition to capture the reader's attention. Use headers and sub-headers, font style, italics, numbers, or colored text, but do not underline or bold. Underlining and bolding is the equivalent of shouting at people in an email.  Be deliberate about the top 25 percent of your content. 

7.       Reduce information density and add white space.  White space is good. Use a single-column layout. 

8.       Email design and web design are different. While there are only a few common web browsers, there are thousands of email clients. Each email client will render your email differently. Make sure you provide a link to an online version.  Six hundred pixels is the ideal width. Stay away from HTML/CSS-based positioning and stick to table-structured positioning.  Add alt text to your images. Avoid creating emails as a single image and don't use background images. Remember to define the width and height of your images. 

9.       Design the email for mobile. Here's why: 54 percent of emails opened occur on a mobile device; 81 percent of smartphone users say reading email is an activity that they use mobile for the most, and 41 percent say they want emails readable on mobile. Think about how you use your smartphone- looking at emails between meetings or a restaurant. People may not always be at home be sitting behind tablets, laptops, or desktops.  Less is more. Besides, designing your email for mobile makes you write content with greater clarity and gets you to the point faster. 

10.   Use mobile-friendly templates.  The call-to-action should be above the fold; Navigation goes in the footer—user 14-point type. The call-to-action should be 44 by 44 pixels.

There is a lot here in creating a successful email.  If anything, it may give you pause to reconsider how you can use email in a continuous patient engagement and experience management strategy effectively.

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 influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. 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 in the blog sidebar. You will not receive additional general or specific marketing emails.

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.