Best practices in health care marketing trail other industries by about two years—and when you consider the everyday challenges faced by the health care sector, it’s not surprising. However, it’s important to understand the unprecedented opportunity your health care facility has today to increase market share and engage patients.
Here are some of the larger marketing challenges your facility may be facing.
- B2B and B2C
Traditionally, health care facilities have marketed themselves to other businesses such as insurance companies. However, as consumers become more involved in their own health care decisions, no health care facility can focus solely on business to business. Today’s health care marketers also need to be proficient at business-to-consumer campaigns.
- Everyone’s an Expert
Today’s health care consumers have the breadth and depth of the world’s medical knowledge at the flick of a finger, and they use it. On the one hand, patients are increasingly better informed of their own health and options for care; on the other, ever-increasing insurance rates and the accelerated pace of medical innovation encourage them to shop around for insurance, providers, and facilities and thoroughly research costs, products, and service quality.
What It Means
Your health care facility has not only a duty, but an incredible opportunity, to educate your patients and prospective patients about specialties and care providers, the latest procedures and medical breakthroughs, and more. Keep in mind that to most effectively serve your audience, your website can’t read like a medical journal; the standard rule of thumb is to target your public communications to a sixth-grade reading level. And don’t overlook the importance of traditional media like direct mail to reinforce your online messages.
- HIPAA and PHI
Otherwise known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA regulates the use of Protected Health Information (PHI). HIPAA’s federal compliance regulations dictate how patient information is used and stored; therefore, health care marketers don’t have the same flexibility as marketers in other industries that aren’t subject to such regulation.
The Affordable Care Act (informally known as Obamacare) was intended to increase access to care, improve the quality of care, and reduce medical costs—and it engaged individuals just as often as employers. As many as 30 million Americans are covered by the ACA, but both the future and the legacy of the ACA have yet to be determined—along with any national plan to update or replace it.
What It Means
Lawmakers can decide how health care marketers should promote their services to the general public. These regulations affect everything from how your organization uses patient data, to which departments must vet and approve marketing messages, to who makes sure already posted content continues to reflect the latest rules and updates.
The Digital Divide
The world may have gone digital, but a 2015 report by Econsultancy and Ogilvy CommonHealth discovered that a majority of health care organizations were unprepared to deal with emerging data sources or to collect high volumes of data at speed. Furthermore, 44 percent of these organizations weren’t prepared to use their own customer relationship management data in marketing campaigns. Here are the minimum digital challenges your marketing must master.
- Social Listening
Your facility needs a presence on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and this presence must be regularly updated and monitored to answer questions and foster a knowledgeable, trustworthy reputation. It’s also important to monitor and claim your facility’s listings on sites that host service reviews.
Every digital marketing campaign can generate reams of detailed statistics with which to measure its effectiveness and hone future efforts. Are you studying the effectiveness of your digital marketing tactics? Has your facility determined its key metrics, and have they changed to include the customer experience? Take time to find tools with actionable insights and develop a plan to monitor your digital marketing activities.
“Big Data” is being used to understand as much about a patient as possible, as early in their treatment path as possible, and to make decisions about their care. So, the data is available—but is yours integrated, accessible, and usable? Can your marketers easily integrate data from different departments to develop more effective strategies?
What It Means
Your patients and prospective patients now expect your facility to personalize your services to meet their individual needs. They expect their questions to be answered in a timely fashion, even to have their questions answered before they know to ask them. Your facility cannot keep up with customer expectations without a deep understanding of the digital landscape.
Overcome the Challenges
To overcome these challenges, consider hiring a professional to help your facility flourish. Health care marketing professionals add the benefit of knowing your industry, as well as how to market it to your target audience. What better time than today to get started on scheduling your personalized health care marketing campaigns and social media strategy?
Dan Coday is the Director of Enterprise Sales and is responsible for leading Xpressdocs’ enterprise sales team, which specializes in helping health care, professional service, and franchise companies maintain brand consistency while providing local customization for distributed user bases. Prior to Xpressdocs, Dan managed international sales activities for Tower Tech and has held senior positions in the advertising and manufacturing industries.