Archive for the ‘Marketing & Advertising’ Category

Is health literacy sinking your hospital marketing?

October 8, 2014

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Do people understand your healthcare marketing materials like you want? According to onestudy, only 53% of U.S. adults have an intermediate understanding of health information, so chances are that your marketing and educational materials come across like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Wah wah, wah wah , wah …

Let’s face it. Does anyone sit around the dinner table and talk about 640-slice CT scanners or fellowship-trained physicians?

No, but they do talk about physicians who have extra training and experience. They do talk about the cool 3D images of their heart that was taken during one heartbeat.

Fortunately, healthcare marketing is trending to be more patient focused and benefit-oriented. The days of showing doctors in lab coats and clinical settings and promoting cutting-edge technology for what it does seem to be receding into the past.

Considering the following statistics regarding America’s health literacy, we should all reevaluate how we present medical information to the public.

In the U.S., our education level and health literacy go hand-in-hand. Of people with less than a high school degree, only one percent rate proficient or at the top in health literacy. Interestingly, only 30 percent of people with bachelor’s degrees or higher rate proficient.

Health literacy also declines with age. Five percent of people 65-75 and only one percent of those over 75 rated proficient.

Since most people read on an 8th-9th grade level and most marketing materials are written at a 10th grade level, it is no surprise that people of all levels of proficiency preferred non-print sources such as broadcast or radio.

Before you launch your next marketing or educational material project, see if it passes the dinner table conversation test. People are interested in your fellowship-trained physicians and advanced medical equipment, but they want to learn about it in everyday language. And it is important to tell them how it helps them and not necessarily what it does.

For more plain talk give us a call.

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?

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

July 8, 2014

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!

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

 

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

June 2, 2014

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.

 

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

Lessons Learned from Fast Food Service Relevant for Healthcare Customer Engagement

April 9, 2014

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

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

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

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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