Healthcare Marketers: Focus on Patient Engagement for Success
The days of one-way, push communication from healthcare marketers is gone. To be successful, you must foster two-way communication with your stakeholders and allow them to gather the information they want, when and where they want it. In addition, you need to provide educational and entertaining content for your healthcare consumers (patients and their caregivers) that will help them navigate their journey.
As with other industries, healthcare consumers have grown accustomed to comparison shopping and reading and posting reviews online. It’s word-of-mouth marketing in cyberspace. Also, many people seek out health information online, allowing them to make better healthcare decisions. This can be empowering when an illness or injury has them sidelined and feeling out of control.
The term patient engagement has become ubiquitous with patient satisfaction surveys that are delivered post treatment such as the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) measured by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The importance of these measures cannot be overstated. However, patient engagement also refers to a concept that combines a patient’s knowledge, ability, and willingness to manage their healthcare, which can lead to better health outcomes. This is where healthcare marketers can shine.
For example, healthcare consumers are less interested in the financial status of an organization and more concerned with learning how to manage an illness, care for a loved one with cancer, book an appointment or what they need to do at home after a hospital stay or visit to an urgent care facility. They will seek out information about healthcare providers and facilities and will also get that information via word-of-mouth or through third-party review sites. The more information they have the more empowered they are to make the right choices for themselves and their families.
Staying top of mind is key for any successful healthcare marketing strategy. But it’s simply not enough to build brand awareness. You must balance that with generating positive press and reviews, and you must address negative comments and false or misleading information in a timely manner. By doing so you will build trust in your brand and gain loyal customers.
In today’s digital landscape, the rules of content marketing must also apply to healthcare. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as, “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
While traditional marketing methods can still be used, there needs to be a focus on digital and interactive marketing content in the form of websites, mobile apps, social media, webinars, videos, e-books, infographics, and online quizzes. Articles and blog posts can also be used to highlight your subject matter experts and help boost your reputation as a trusted resource. When writing articles and posts don’t forget to use storytelling techniques to create an emotional connection with your audience. This can be especially powerful in healthcare. One organization that knows how to captivate stakeholders is MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. The homepage is highly engaging and interactive, and the viewer is immediately drawn to the photos and stories of survivors, physicians and researchers.
As previously mentioned, social media is a great tool for marketing. If you’re not sure how to best use it to boost patient engagement, visit the Mayo Clinic’s social media site. The organization is considered an industry leader in the use of social media for healthcare. Another great resource for healthcare marketers and communicators is Ragan’s Health Care Communication News.
Finally, learn how one healthcare system improved patient engagement by adopting digital media and customer relationship management (CRM) strategies. By using these methods you’re on the way to becoming a successful healthcare marketer who can positively impact lives while increasing your department’s ROI.
McKinley Marketing Partners specializes in placing marketing and creative talent in multiple industries, including healthcare. To find someone with the expertise you need, contact us today.
Vicki VanArsdale is a seasoned writer and content marketing expert who will graduate from Boston University in May with a Master of Science in Health Communication. McKinley Marketing Partners is proud to count her among its stellar group of marketing and creative consultants.