Curator of EngagingPatients.org
Healthcare information is abundantly available for patients, potential patients and families. According to the Pew Research Center, 74% of adults are online and of those, 80% have looked for health information.
Add to that the fierce competition in the marketplace for patients thanks to many mergers and acquisitions, it’s critical for healthcare marketers to be savvy about how to build patient loyalty.
We’ve rounded up some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when working on strategic plans:
Make sure there’s a seat at the table for marketing. Believe it or not, there are some organizations that still don’t consider marketing an essential part of the healthcare leadership structure. The reality is that without the ability to attract potential patients and top talent, an organization will flounder. Having a strong brand often is directly tied to the value leadership places on building brand.
Become an authority. Patients and potential patients are bombarded with healthcare information at every turn. Have a headache or runny nose? Chances are your patients will turn to Google before contacting you. Even if they aren’t actively looking, targeting serves ups healthcare information in the form of ads that may attract their attention. In today’s competitive market, it’s vital that patients look to you as an authoritative source of information. In addition to having an up-to-date website, it’s also important to maintain an active social media presence and to consider SEO so your material is presented to your audience first.
Follow trends in other industries. We’ve all heard the term “consumerization” in relation to health care. Patients and prospective patients are paying attention to what’s happening in other industries and have increased expectations for their health care experience. Healthcare marketers have the opportunity to look at other industries, identify opportunities to improve experience and either broach the topic with senior leadership or figure out a way to adopt the change for their organization themselves.
Mobile is here to stay. If your healthcare organization isn’t embracing mobile, it’s time to. Almost every American adult and many kids own cell phones, according to Pew Research Center. More than 95% of Americans own cell phones and 81% are smartphones. What does that mean for healthcare? Patients want to be able to access providers without making a call. They expect to be able to fill prescriptions and make appointments online. Many want to be able to communicate securely with their providers, also.
Know your target audience. Digital technology is a fantastic way to reach people but if your target demographic is not using it regularly, it won’t make a difference how advanced your tools are. It’s also important to consider how technologically savvy your patients or prospective patients are. Just because they have a smartphone, doesn’t mean they will know how to use it for advanced communication.
Healthcare marketers also should be aware of a few things to avoid:
- Don’t be adverse to change. The market is rapidly evolving and so should the way you work and try to approach patients.
- However, welcoming change doesn’t mean abandoning all previously successful tactics. If you have good results from reaching out to your patients via direct mail, there’s no need to abandon that approach. Instead, consider an adding other outreach opportunities.