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.

healthcare marketing

As with other industries, healthcare consumers have grown accustomed to comparison shopping through reading and posting reviews online. It’s word-of-mouth marketing in cyberspace. Also, many people search for health information online, so they can make better healthcare decisions. This can be empowering when an illness or injury leaves them sidelined and feeling out of control.

A recent report, the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), points to the importance of patient engagement. However, patient engagement also includes 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. They are more concerned with learning how to manage an illness, care for a loved one with cancer, book an appointment, or what to do after a hospital stay. They will look for information about healthcare providers and facilities, getting that information through 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.

Healthcare Marketing is about Awareness

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. Also, 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.”

Digital Marketing Plays a Central Role

While many healthcare marketers use traditional methods, digital marketing is becoming far more important. Just a few tools available include 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, Content Marketer

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.

by McKinley Marketing Partners