Why Online Videos Should be an Integral Marketing Tool for your Hospital or Practice

July 8, 2014 by

Anytime you can invoke multiple senses in delivering your message, it makes a larger impact on your audience. Video affords you the opportunity to both paint a picture and capture sound. It has the ability to stir emotions and influence people and allows you to be a better storyteller. This emotional response ultimately helps drive engagement and allows viewers to connect with your brand.

This makes video a valuable tool in your communications with patients because it allows you to deliver valuable content in a format that viewers are consuming at a faster pace than ever before.

In 2012, Google and Compete, Inc. surveyed 533 hospital researchers to gain behavioral insights on how digital is used to seek healthcare information. They found that:
• One in eight patients watched an online video on:
Hospital sites – 42%
Health information sites – 30%
YouTube – 29%
• Patients seek video reviews and testimonials to learn about hospitals
and treatment options with 43% watching patient testimonials and
32% reviewing patient generated content
• Online video drives patients to hospital sites where they are more
likely to convert
• YouTube traffic to hospital sites has increased 119% year over year.

So why do consumers connect so strongly with video? Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D., a brand consultant for large companies, says there are four driving factors:
• We pay attention to faces – our brain function uses the human face as
a gathering point for believability and information
• Voices provide a way to convert information into meaningful content
• Emotions are contagious and appealing and humans love to share it
• Movement grabs your attention – the power of peripheral motion is
ingrained into our DNA

People have very different ways of absorbing information. Some prefer to read and others to hear or see it visually. Because video is capable of imparting information in any and all of these ways, it allows you to effectively convey your message regardless of the viewer’s learning style.

So, if you aren’t currently using videos in your marketing, you’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to connect with your audience. Engage with them and get your message out there!

Five Ways Online Videos Can Drive Healthcare Traffic

June 25, 2014 by

There are a myriad of ways that hospitals and physicians can successfully use video to build traffic to websites. At the same time, videos can also create a sense of trust and credibility for the hospital or practice. This provides the opportunity to engage viewers in an interesting and meaningful way and becomes a powerful tool for building brand loyalty.

Physician Promotion

119%One of the most prevalent ways to use videos of physicians is on physician profile pages. Videos can provide a sense of the physician’s emotions and personality which allows viewers to more readily connect with them. A potential patient that experiences a sense of connection is more likely to visit a hospital site than to trust blind luck that the relationship will be a good one. According to research conducted by Google, YouTube traffic to hospital sites has increased 119% year to year. And over 30% of patients who watched an online video booked an appointment.

Service Promotion

Videos also allow a hospital or physician to introduce the key services and treatment options they provide. Patient testimonials are a great way to reinforce this information because they provide believability and proof of successful treatment. While not a promise, it allows health seekers to identify with them and entertain the belief that they might have the same outcome.

Patient Education

Education is a natural fit for video. Information can be communicated in an easily understandable way that resonates with the viewer and can be viewed repeatedly or as needed. This is especially useful for preparations for surgery, after care instructions and information on dealing with specific conditions.

Recruitment

Videos are excellent tools for recruitment for physicians and allied staff. You can essentially provide a “slice of life” to give prospects a sense of what they can expect if they decide to join your hospital or practice. This allows prospects to make an initial decision about whether this would be a good fit for them. If so, it will encourage them to investigate further. This is an especially valuable tool for rural hospitals and practices as they try to garner attention in a very competitive landscape. For a harried physician in a larger market, communicating the benefits of a smaller market can entice them to take a second look at the community as well as the hospital or practice.

Public Relations

Videos are a valuable resource for public relations and for communicating about upcoming events and announcements. On social channels, videos significantly increase engagement which translates to more viewers and clicks – all good PR. In fact, Facebook recently announced that video views doubled in the past six months and that it will now deliver more video to people who have shown an interest in viewing such content. Secondly, sharing interesting/entertaining content in a video format increases the chance of news outlets picking up your information. And last, video allows you to humanize your organization and culture, thereby increasing buy-in from viewers who may want to interact with your hospital or practice or come to work for you.

So, if you aren’t currently using videos for healthcare marketing, try implementing them in one of these ways and see what a difference it can make in engaging patients, physicians and staff, as well as consumers.

Key Points to Help Your Healthcare Marketing Connect with Patients

June 16, 2014 by

Since we were young we have been taught the importance of sharing. Today that is easier than ever to do with email and multiple social media platforms. And for the healthcare industry, sharing health information is becoming more of the norm. A recent Pew Report stated that 26% of adult internet users have read or watched someone else’s health or medical experience and 16% have gone online to find others who share the same health concerns. One study found that people trust health information shared by hospitals and doctors online 10-15% more than by other patients they know.

Hospitals and physician practices need to consider how key points or stories about their care can be distributed in a way that is compelling and easy for people to share with others. Sharing is about relationships – give and take. Knowing who shares and why is an important first step. A New York Times study found that:

  • 94% of study participants consider how information they share will be useful to the recipient
  • 84% share because it is a way to show support for issues they care about
  • 69% share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world
  • Only 49% share to inform others of products and try to change opinions

The study found six personas for sharing; altruists, careerists, hipsters, boomerangs, connectors and selectives. Their personas are based on four segments defined by:

  • Emotional motivations
  • Desired presentation of self
  • Role of sharing in life
  • Value of being first to share

One key point to increase sharing is to appeal to consumers’ (patients’) needs to connect with each other and not to a brand. Yet it seems that healthcare marketing is often missing the mark. A Spark Report found that although 41% of respondents said that social media would affect their choice of a medical facility, hospital, or doctor, only 18% of Facebook posts by hospitals are for the public while the rest target employees. Other key points to increase sharing include trust, simplicity, humor and urgency.

The Pew report states “that patients and caregivers have critical health information — about themselves, about each other, about treatments — and they want to share what they know to help other people.” Before your next post or email, check your content based on the above criteria and ask yourself if you are engaging your patients or just sending them information.

 

What is your persona?

  1. Altruist – Helpful, reliable, thoughtful, connected
  2. Careerist – Valuable, intelligent, network
  3. Hipster – Creative, young, popular, cutting-edge
  4. Boomerang – Reaction, validation, empowered
  5. Connector – Creative, relaxed, thoughtful, making plans
  6. Selective – Resourceful, careful, thoughtful, informative

 

50 beds or 500, your hospital brand is critical to your success.

June 2, 2014 by

The most powerful companies in the world live and die on their brands.  It has been estimated that at least half of Coca Cola’s market capitalization ($178 billion, May 2014) resides in its brand alone.  The same can be said of Apple, the world’s most valuable company.

I would argue that a hospital’s brand is even more important to its success than it is for these global companies.  Just think about it.  Your hospital’s reputation (brand) is everything to its success.  It’s one thing to trust Coke to taste good or your iPhone to work consistently, but trust in a healthcare environment is something else altogether.

Yet, some hospitals, particularly the smaller ones which have greater brand challenges than anyone, don’t invest a lot of time, effort or thought into building the brand – even though we know from decades of research that brand building pays great dividends.  The fact that brand building is so important is why even the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic and MD Anderson devote millions to building their brands annually.

The benefits to building a strong brand are many:

  • Increases consumer confidence
  • Reduces consumer risk
  • Creates customer loyalty
  • Signifies quality
  • Is more memorable
  • Provides differentiation

Building a hospital brand takes dedication.  It’s not a once every other year campaign.  It’s an every day focus.  You start by understanding what the public’s perceptions are of your hospital, then evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and determine not only what you desire to be, but also what you realistically can be in your community.  Once you’ve determined your message, it’s a matter of deciding what’s necessary to convince your community of your vision.

 

Why Hospitals and Healthcare Providers Should Focus on Patient Engagement and Activation

May 15, 2014 by

Patients who are actively engaged in their healthcare are more compliant in following physician instructions regarding their medications, diet, exercise levels, etc. This behavior typically leads to better outcomes and lower costs.

 Why is this important? Over 50% of patients fail to take their medication as directed because they have a hard time understanding instructions. Some patients lack the confidence to make decisions concerning their options or emotions cloud their ability to process information. Regardless of the reason, everyone benefits if patients are actively engaged and there is a focus from healthcare providers on educating patients and involving them more fully in making decisions about their care.

 In a recent TedMed online event regarding patient engagement (activation), the discussion revolved around how to inspire patients to participate in their healthcare. In 2004, Judith Hibbard and researchers from the University of Oregon developed a scale to measure how likely patients are to take a role in their own healthcare. It involves four stages:

  • believing that their role as a patient is important
  • having the confidence and knowledge necessary to take action
  • taking action to maintain and improve one’s health
  • maintaining these behaviors even under stress

 Some options found to increase active patient engagement include:

  • using a team-based approach so that patient self-management is consistent and reinforced by all team members
  • providing tailored coaching to patients based upon their level of activation
  • allocating different resources to different segments of patients so more help can be efficiently provided to those patients who are less able to manage their care
  • tracking progress so that patients can see their success

 Hibbards’ research and analysis found that patients with lower activation scores incurred costs from eight to 21 percent higher than those patients with higher activation scores. Since then, research indicates that people with a higher activation score are less likely to visit an emergency room, be obese or smoke, and more likely to save providers money.

Today, these outcomes – for both patients and providers – are crucial in our evolving healthcare environment.

The Millennials are coming. Is your healthcare marketing on target?

April 16, 2014 by

Millennial InfographicIs your hospital and physician practice marketing connecting with 20-30 year-old women? These are the people who are often choosing a physician for the first time. They are entering into a lifetime of health care needs and making their own decisions without strong parental influence.

For OB/Gyn physicians and hospital women’s service lines it is important to reach this group. They are the future for your patient growth. But according to a new Pew Center study this generation is very different from previous generations. Is your healthcare marketing message changing to fit with their lifestyle?

This is a generation of firsts. They are the most racially diverse of all generations with 43% being non-white. They are also the best educated generation with over 33% having a 4-year degree or higher. With that higher education comes more debt. Millennials are also the first in the new era to experience higher debt, poverty and unemployment than GenXers or Boomers did at their age.

This may be one of the reasons that they are also marrying later than earlier generations. The median age for women to marry is 27 and for men it is 29. Even though they disapprove of the trend 47% of births are out-of-wedlock.

Millennials are less likely to associate themselves with political or religious organizations. They socialize online. They are digital natives and spend time on social networks putting themselves at the center of these social networks with more than 50% of them posting selfies. 90% will trust medical information from a friend online, but as a whole they are far less trusting of people in general.

So what are some key takeaways for this group of new healthcare consumers? First you will find them online. But as an outsider you will need to work hard to gain their trust. They are well-educated and are used to researching and comparing products online too. You will need to provide more relevant information that applies to them. They are also different socially in that they are marrying later and having more children before marriage. This accounts for almost half of births for this age group, an important point to keep in mind when promoting your Ob/Gyn or women’s services.

 

Sources: Pew Research: Social and Demographic Trends, Search Engine Watch

Lessons Learned from Fast Food Service Relevant for Healthcare Customer Engagement

April 9, 2014 by

The focus for hospitals and physician practices has been to deliver excellent customer service to engage patients and visitors. Which is fine, as far as that went.

Focusing on just customer service by itself is passé in today’s fast moving world. Customer engagement is the marketing tool that hospitals and physician practices are wisely embracing. Simply put, that means that in addition to delivering excellent customer service, your communications with customers – patients, visitors and even employees – need to be done in an engaging, ongoing manner. It’s about more than just communicating information. You want to pull them in with frequent two-way conversations in order to develop successful relationships.

Recently, I was engaged on a retail level by Chick-Fil-A regarding their Founder Truett Cathy. I received an email that it was his birthday and was urged to join them in wishing him a happy birthday. Because I absolutely love their food and have a great deal of admiration for Mr. Cathy and the brand he has developed, I took a moment – on my phone – to send him a birthday greeting. I received a reply thanking me and inviting me to join them soon for a meal. This was a very simple, but effective, means of engaging me as a customer and leaving me with a warm feeling towards this company – and their brand.

The beauty is, that if done correctly, what works for your customer, will work for your healthcare practice or hospital. One simple way is to use social media to make it easy for them to contact you online and give them options. Get patient input on how to enhance quality improvement. Give them ways to interact with you on their schedule. Remember, it’s a mobile society and customers are constantly seeking information and resolution 24-hours a day. Create positive experiences and outcomes for them. The more you interact in helping to solve their issues, the more loyalty you create for your hospital or physician practice.

And, yes, I am planning on visiting my neighborhood Chick-Fil-A for a meal soon!

Important Considerations for Developing Physician Websites

April 2, 2014 by

A great website takes a lot of work to design, implement and maintain – and they are critical today. Your patients not only expect your practice to have one, but expect that the information they want and need will be there, whether it is a patient portal that enables them to schedule appointments, get a prescription refilled, check on lab and test results, pay their bill online or find office hours and locations.

A physician website should include:
• An up-to-date look and design that is visually attractive and compelling
• A site that is responsive so that it is easy to view on different devices
• Graphics and videos that are compatible and come up quickly (no Flash)
• A content management system (CMS) that allows you to make copy and photo changes
• Short, easy-to-grasp and grammatically correct content broken up by subheads and bullets that make it easy for healthcare consumers to scan the content (hint: no one reads long blocks of copy anymore)
• Information that is well organized and easy to find so that viewers don’t have to search for what they need
• Pages that load quickly – generally in two seconds or less
• Use of good search engine optimization (SEO) practices so that your site ranks higher on search engines and shows up earlier on pages – most consumers do not look beyond the first, and sometimes the second page, of search results
• The ability to work across different browsers (Internet Explorer, Safari, Foxfire, etc.)

Today, your medical practice is judged not only by the health care you deliver, but also by your website. Most people initially research your site before they ever decide to make an appointment. And, while they are researching your practice, they are also researching others that offer the same services. It’s a given that they will compare your website to others to get a sense of what you offer and how information is presented.

The professionalism of your website and how it engages current and prospective patients is a reflection of your practice. Make it the front door that warmly welcomes patients.

Designer Babies

May 7, 2013 by

As I dive into the research phase of marketing, differentiation is at the very heart of the discovery process.

The concept of differentiation brings back fond memories of college Biology. Stem cell research was a hot topic then and continues to fuel heated conversation on both sides of the debate.

DesignerBaby http://news.msn.com/science-technology/2-year-old-girl-gets-new-life-with-windpipe-made-from-stem-cells

The ‘con’ side fears stem cell research will lead to a society of “designer babies”. The ‘pro’ side views it as scientific research that will lead to a better understanding of cell function. Whichever side you gravitate to, what can’t be debated is the fact that stem cells are programmed to differentiate. They become very specific, specialized units. These units adapt to a form and function that distinguishes them from all others.

This formula for success holds true in the marketing efforts of your organization. Ask yourself………

Differentiation     What does your organization do well on a daily basis? How do these practices set you apart?

Segmentation        Are you able to clearly identify all possible market segments?

Specification          Is your campaign specific to your audience?

Specialization       In what areas does your organization specialize? Do your areas of expertise allow you to adapt to the ever-changing social marketplace?

The success of any marketing effort lies in your ability to identify those characteristics that distinguish you from all others. This seemingly small act of due diligence is certain to guide you to a “designer baby” of your very own!

A Prescription for Hospital Gym Marketing

September 13, 2012 by

Prescription for ExerciseAs the focus on preventive medicine has increased, many hospitals have incorporated gyms and wellness centers in their list of services. After building the gym the question becomes how to get and keep a vibrant membership.

In addition to traditional marketing for your hospital’s gym, you also can look inward and enlist your physicians, since they are the front line for patient wellness. A recent CDC study shows physicians are advising a much greater percentage of their patients to exercise than they were 10 years ago.

A Healthy Prescription

The hospital’s gym can offer a healthy prescription plan for physicians to give their patients. This can be a coupon card, much like a pharmaceutical discount coupon, With an offer on one side that might include a discounted or free two-month membership and an initial consult with a trainer to review physician recommendations. The back of the card has room for the physician to write a start level and goals for the patient’s exercise regimen.

The physician can recommend exercise or write their patient a prescription for it. Telling someone they need to exercise is good, but an actual prescription may have more impact in emphasizing the importance of exercise for better health.

Of course the patient is given the recommendation or prescription for exercise, not the gym. They can exercise in their house or the park, but the coupon card is given along with the prescription as an added incentive. This can be beneficial for all parties. The physician gains another tool to help improve his patients’ health. The patient gets more detailed exercise information and a discount to a gym. The hospital gains good will for providing the gym discount and possibly acquires new long-term members.


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