Author Archive

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

April 16, 2014

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

A Prescription for Hospital Gym Marketing

September 13, 2012

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.

How You Can Bring Visual Value to Your Hospital’s Videos.

August 21, 2012

Hospital Video ProductionWe all know the saying “a picture says a thousands words.” This may be one reason that YouTube is one of the largest search engines. According to a Manhattan Research study, 30% of the US adults who search the Internet for health information watch health related videos.

People are very visual and constantly make judgments based on visual cues. A great example is food. Think of the cafeteria line compared to the beautifully presented plate of food at a fine restaurant. If our food looks good, it must taste good. That is why presentation is such a large part of the fine dining experience.

Visual quality is a basic but an important point to remember when creating a medical practice or hospital video. To the viewer good quality represents competence. On the other hand, if the video is amateurish, the viewer may wonder if your medical care is going to be sub-par.

It is all about presentation (and content)

1. Quality – You pride yourself in the quality of your patient care, so let that come through in your video. People will recognize low production value. This is not to say that you need to spend oodles of money, but you do need to be aware of lighting, picture quality, backgrounds, and editing style.

2. On-air personality – Yes, personality is the key here. If you are using staff or a physician, employ people who have engaging speaking styles. This may not always be possible, so be prepared to coach them.

They need to talk to the camera as they would a patient and let a good bedside manner shine through.

3. Wardrobe and Makeup – So this is starting to seem more like a major production than you thought. Be sure the talent is wearing clean, pressed clothing and their hair is neat. This seems obvious, but doesn’t always happen. Physicians are thinking about their clinical obligations and patients. Having freshly dry-cleaned clothes often is not top of mind. Just be prepared with extra coats, an iron, comb, and powder.

When making your medical video, think of creating a meal at a fine restaurant. Plan then prep, prep, prep. Finally, craft your story for patient friendly presentation.

Increase Hospital Reimbursements by Marketing to Reduce Costs

August 14, 2012

Medication ComplianceWith the shift of reimbursement payment practices, hospitals are looking at all options and best practices to improve quality care and reduce costs.

As marketers we can help increase revenue, but can we also help cut costs and improve care?  Sure we can. Many hospitals have already done this with hand washing campaigns that resulted in significant increases in compliance and reductions in infection rates.

 Another costly compliance issue involves patients and their prescription medication. I knew that medication compliance was a significant problem, but did not realize just how much until I saw the following numbers. A CVS Caremark study determined that medication adherence saved the healthcare system $1,200 – $8,000 per patient annually.  Unfortunately nearly 40% of insured people DON’T take their medication as prescribed.

Improving medication compliance won’t be easy and will probably require action from many public and private entities.  It does seem that hospital owned physician practices and hospitals could have a significant impact on this problem by providing educational materials, tools, and campaigns to their patients. A recent Health Research Institute study said that 57% of patients place a high value on education they receive during a visit . So they are primed for medical information, all you need to do is give it to them.  It may help them stay healthier, improve satisfaction levels and reduce readmissions.

Are you marketing medication adherence or other healthcare cost savings initiatives?  If so, I would love to hear about what you are doing.

 

How to make your hospital’s Facebook page the life of the party.

August 1, 2012

Facebook PartyFacebook, which is all about friends and their lives, is the epitome of social media. So think of running your hospital’s Facebook page as hosting a party for your friends. Invite people to join you and welcome newcomers. Strive to be a good host. Be a good conversationalist and never talk only about yourself. Go out of your way to provide refreshments and entertainment that will please the guests. Above all, be gracious and thankful to people who attend.

Know your guests and their likes and dislikes.

  • Pay attention to health and wellness topics that garner the most attention and comments. What topics flop? In the future weight your posts to the more popular topics. Think of your Facebook page as “Pandora” for healthcare in your community.

Cater to your friends. 

  • Share important community stories on your page.
  • Post important health information and observances.
  • Include information on events, new services or treatments you offer, staff recognition and other relevant information. Think of it as small talk. Try to present it in a way that invites conversation.

Be entertaining. 

  • Provide pictures and videos to supplement your post. A good visual can add spark to any topic. A physician explaining a disease or procedure on a video is a great way to educate people in a personable way.
  • Don’t drone on. Make your point short and sweet and when appropriate ask for feedback.
  • Party games can be fun, so use health quizzes and contests to interact with your audience.

Make it worth their time. 

  • Educate in a fun way. Be sure to provide helpful information – facts, event information, a good patient story, informative videos, recipes or helpful tips.

And in the end, thank people for coming.

  • Be sure to acknowledge your fans and the comments they make.

Follow these simple steps to be the host-ess with the most-est and watch your hospital’s Facebook likes and fan base grow.

How Website Content Almost Stole Christmas

December 14, 2011

Recently I put on my elf hat and did a little online shopping to help Santa. I was looking for one item, a programmable robot from a large toy company. I thought this would be a quick transaction but after an hour or so I felt more like the Grinch than a happy little elf.

I wanted to be sure the robot was compatible with my computer and that it would work Christmas morning. The toy description said “Easy-to-use software (PC and Mac).” That was it. It did not answer the question – what operating system?

Then the real work began. In search of the answer I went through the support section labyrinth where I got mired down in very technical verbiage using programming specific terminology. Somewhere along the way they seem to have forgotten that parents and not computer engineers were the target market.

It is so easy to fall into “industry-speak” especially when you are engrossed in that business everyday. It is also easy to skim over or omit information because it seems so basic, but for a layman is important. Whether the business is toys, garden supplies or healthcare we should always step back and evaluate what we are saying and how we are presenting the content to our target audience. Are we really talking to them or are we talking to ourselves and peers to some degree. Are we making it easier or harder for them?

If there had been any other item on my son’s list, I would have abandoned the painful robot search. The robot will be waiting Christmas morning and it had better work.

Don’t Shortchange Yourself

February 22, 2011

The poor economy has caused much belt-tightening over the past couple of years, with everyone wanting to get the most bang for their buck. To me that is recognizing value, not necessarily finding the cheapest price. It can be easy to fall into the trap of being a penny-wise but a pound-foolish. Sure it is great to come in under-budget, but don’t under-cut your project in the process.

Know your limits and rely on other people who can bring something to the table. Find vendors who will make suggestions to improve your original idea or who have a special talent to enhance the final project, making it great as opposed to good. Sometimes getting it great does cost more financially, not much more, but more.  But what are the long-term rewards of standing out with great work and valuing exceptional quality? And what are the pitfalls of just being good. Is good, good enough for others?

I acknowledged my limitations when my husband and I had an addition built on our home. It was not a large or complicated, and, as a designer, I knew exactly how I wanted it to look and flow. I could have sketched it out and worked with the builder but we hired the architect who drew our original house plans. If we were going to spend a lot of money to build it, why would we scrimp on one of the most important points in the process? We wanted someone who did this work day-in and day-out and knew things about home design that we would never know. Sure it cost more, but the outcome was much better than anything I could have done. Not only did the architect make great suggestions for adjustments, but he also informed us of new building materials that provided greater efficiency. Most importantly I was assured of not making a costly mistake or having multiple change orders during construction (cha ching, cha ching). The additional cost of the architect probably saved me money in the long run and significantly improved the outcome.

So when doing anything in life and work consider value. Is saving the extra dollar really doing just that? Don’t shortchange yourself. It may end up costing you much more than that dollar in the long run.

Ho Ho Ho and Christmas Marketing

December 21, 2010

The other night I saw a Norelco ad with a robotic “droid” looking man on it. It caught my eye, not because it was unique, but because it was so different from their old ads with Saint Nick. Even if you aren’t old enough to remember seeing the spot during “Rudolf” or “Frosty” you have probably seen it somewhere.

Jolly Saint Nick comes sliding down the snowy slope on a rotary razor blade bobsled (http://bit.ly/8tTq8k). Sure it is silly, but it makes you smile. And you get a warm, lighthearted feeling from it. Isn’t that what this season is about – good will toward man or toward the brand?

From the iconic singers with candles to the animated polar bears, Coke usually does a good job of spreading cheer along with their product name. Budweiser has the Clydesdales with sleigh bells, and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, Target has the bright lights and techno music. Going beyond tv spots, some companies are literally projecting their holiday spirit in a larger than life manner. H&M in Amsterdam (http://bit.ly/g4Kc4d) and Saks in NYC (http://bit.ly/f05sid) are using 3-D projection technology to create a fun and entertaining experience for the public. What could be more magical than walking down the street and seeing giant snowflakes fall down the side of a building?  Just seeing the video made me smile. Check it out for yourself and have a Merry Christmas and safe New Year.

 

Raising employee and patient satisfaction with social media.

November 3, 2010

Use social media to engage your customers! It seems like this is all anyone talks about these days – “the 10 best tricks,” “the three worst pitfalls” and don’t forget to tweet.

What if we dropped back a level and first engaged our employees. The Mayo Clinic did just that. In 2008 they launched a blog for employees called “Let’s Talk” to help explain and discuss a new strategic plan. They implemented an online vehicle allowing staff to propose ideas that could better their working environment or patient care. The Mayo Clinic also posts department blogs, videos and more for their staff. The point being, that the employees learn what the organization is doing from multiple channels and multiple points of view. They see their colleagues’ ideas and thoughts about proposed initiatives. They are part of the discussion and not on the sidelines waiting for whatever comes their way. They have a vested interest in the organization.

Maybe this is one of the reasons the Mayo Clinic is featured in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” and why they have low-turnover rates and high patient satisfaction ratings.

People want to be a part of something they are proud of. It’s human nature. If they are part of the team they won’t want to be the person who drops the ball. And if they are happy and invested in their job they are one of the best ambassadors your brand can have.

I once worked with a company whose mantra was “take care of your employees and they will take care of the customer,” a pretty basic but important idea. You can tweet all you want about successes or new services, but an unhappy employee personally sours the patient’s or customer’s experience. So the next time you think about how social media can promote your brand, think close to home first.

 

Would you rather be sick or well?

October 20, 2009

Of course, I want to be well. Who wants to be sick? For years, we at The Adams Group have been championing the idea that hospitals should promote overall well being throughout life as a significant component of their services. Instead of just being a place to go when you are ill, be the go to place for health and wellness.

It seems that the healthcare consumer is craving this too. A recent Pew Internet study found that online searches for exercise and fitness jumped 88 percent since 2002. At 38 percent it is now third in all health topic searches behind medical problem at 49 percent and treatment at 41 percent.

People know that hospitals can make them well, but like I said no one wants to be sick. Maybe it is time for them to know that hospitals can also help keep them well. Take the lead for health and wellness in your community.


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