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The Boomer Challenge in Healthcare Marketing

August 7, 2014
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Boomers Are Online

This year marks a milestone for Boomers. By its end all Boomers, approximately 75 million people, will be 50 or older. By 2017, those over age 65 will control 70% of disposable income in this country. By 2030, 18% of our population will be 65 or older.

Baby Boomers as Healthcare Consumers – Opportunity

This generation has been a force throughout the past decades and will continue to be. One of the industries that will be most affected is health care. Although boomers claim that old-age does not begin until age 72, many are less healthy than past generations. 13.2% of baby boomers reported “excellent” health compared with 32% of the previous generation.

It is estimated that 60% of adults age 50 to 64 are suffering from a minimum of one chronic health issue and many have multiple illnesses. People older than 65 spend more on health care than any other age group, averaging $4,769 out-of-pocket each year. They will present many challenges and opportunities for health systems and physicians.

Health statistics for those 65 and older:

  • 72% have hypertension
  • 51% have arthritis
  • 31% have heart disease
  • 24% have cancer
  • 20 % have diabetes
  • Boomers account for one-third of overall healthcare spending and prescription drug utilization and for 40% of doctor visits

Reaching Boomers – Challenges

Reaching this segment of the population is becoming easier. Traditional media vehicles are still a good way of connecting with boomers, but one myth being debunked is that digital marketing is not a good option. Although not as prevalent as with younger generations, 88% of 50-64 year olds and 57% of 65+ are online.

An Accenture survey found that 2/3 of seniors think access to health information is important and 60% want to be able to email providers, but only 15% have that option.

This group is searching for health information online. Those that have one or more chronic conditions are more likely than other age groups to:

  • Gather information online about medical problems, treatments, and drugs.
  • Consult online reviews about drugs and other treatments.
  • Read or watch something online about someone else’s personal health experience.

In Information Week, Jill Daily of Accenture Health was quoted as saying, “Just as seniors are turning to the Internet for banking, shopping, entertainment and communications, they also expect to handle certain aspects of their healthcare services online. What this means for providers and health plans is that they’ll need to expand their digital options if they want to attract older patients and help them track and manage their care outside their doctor’s office.”

 

Are you providing that service and doing all you can to reach this fast growing and affluent market?

Key Points to Help Your Healthcare Marketing Connect with Patients

June 16, 2014

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

 

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.

 


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