After interviewing many healthcare managers and executives over recent months, I found that they are very concerned about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) or “Obama care,” will affect their organizations.
They face many challenges. For example:
- All want to differentiate their unique hospital products and services to better appeal to consumers (primarily patients) and stand out from other hospitals and hospital systems.
- Most of them agree that their businesses need to move to a more consumer-oriented model to really engage, grow, and retain patients and attract quality medical professionals. In other words, they need to connect better to their audiences.
- They recognize that there is increased competition between the major providers of healthcare.
- At the same time, there is a strong focus to reduce costs with a greater emphasis on preventative health and a push for more economical procedures.
So, how can health systems, providers, and marketers stay ahead of the curve and address the U.S. health care evolution? Of course, marketing is a leading component to help resolve some of the issues, but it will not solve all of them. However, healthcare organizations can address some of these challenges and connect better with patients, doctors, health pros, internal teams, and others by pursuing more advanced and proven marketing strategies, practices, and methods. This is just the beginning of a bigger and more complex discussion, but here are a few suggestions.
If a hospital explains its “latest and greatest technology,” in corporate-speak, that may appeal to doctors doing leading-edge surgeries, but this won’t mean much to a potential patient. For example, there is a growing movement for using surgical robotics technology in operating rooms. But patients may be fearful of being operated upon by a “machine.” They need a more personal, warm, and friendly explanation (in a testimonial, case study approach, in video or photo story formats) in their language to show them how the technology can help their doctors get better results for them.
Social Media Marketing:
Many healthcare companies do try to have some presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn for their brands. Some do a better job than others. However, I personally see very few of them consistently taking advantage of optimizing all these incredible ways to engage patients (or consumers) or even medical professionals. They can also track results through social media metrics and have conversations that resonant better.
Healthcare organizations also need to expand and adapt with Google+, blogging, contextual advertising, and integrate more with appropriate audience receptive media (photo, video, infographics, podcasts, and more). Google+ is often underestimated when it comes to most marketing efforts, not just in healthcare marketing. Google has the biggest and most powerful influence on usage and search; it has evolved a new model of search optimization (Hummingbird) that has catapulted using the volume of meaningful and engaging content as a key determining factor in deciding search results, not just keywords. So really getting on board with Google in many ways, helps organizations be found and be profoundly engaging.
The new healthcare marketing evolution adventure is coming. Overall, the time has come for healthcare organizations to evolve their marketing and move forward to reach all their audiences. Healthcare organizations can leverage help from concerned marketing and technology experts from high-tech and other industries. This is just the beginning of an exciting adventure that will reap huge benefits to patients, doctors, medical pros, and organizations.