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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!

Five Ways Online Videos Can Drive Healthcare Traffic

June 25, 2014

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.


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.

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

May 15, 2014

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.

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.

Educating Patients is a Primary Need for Better Healthcare Access

June 27, 2012

We are all waiting to hear the Supreme Court’s decision on the health reform law (Affordable Care Act) this week. According to a recent Times article, “If it survives, about 93 percent of all non-elderly, legal U.S. residents will be covered by 2016. That’s up from 82 percent this year.” This translates to an additional 30 million people who will receive health insurance coverage.

Regardless of the outcome of the Affordable Care Act, there is a strong need to educate consumers on how to access and use the healthcare system. Research points out that recent changes in health insurance status for newly insured and newly uninsured adults are linked to greater emergency department use – not community health centers, family physicians or urgent care centers. An emergency department is truly one of the most inefficient options for people to use for non-emergent care. Providing health care in this forum ties up resources that can be better used, costs substantially more than care delivered in a lower acuity setting, and typically has much longer waiting times than other healthcare options.

Many Emergency Departments are now triaging patients as they enter the door. Some direct patients to other alternatives (at a lower co-pay) and some are using nurses to handle non-emergent problems. Signage and patient handouts can explain the reasons and the importance for doing this. Online videos are another option that many hospitals are using to explain where to properly seek care.

Once newly insured patients are aware of accessing other levels of care, an answer according to Robin Clarke, University of California, Los Angeles, may be the use of enabling services. These are non-medical services, typically delivered by primary care practices and community health centers, to help low-income patients access the healthcare system. These services address the social determinants of health care by helping patients figure out transportation to appointments, conducting case management assessments and performing community outreach and education activities.

Current research is being done to investigate how these patient-centered services will affect the delivery of health care to underserved patients. The results will affect not only the implementation, but also reimbursement. It will also impact how the patient-centered medical home concept will apply to the practices caring for these patients.

There are many other points of access to educate consumers. But, we need to make it a priority to do so.

This reminds me of the saying, “If we build it, they will come.” Unless we focus on education, they may come but never figure out how to use it.

What do hawks, birthing services and hospitals have in common?

June 8, 2012

Working primarily with hospitals, I read a lot of articles about controlling preventable errors. But, I recently found out that sometimes they just can’t be prevented – even for a healthcare advertising agency .

Our outdoor representative recently informed us that a vinyl we thought had been taken down for a hospital outdoor board was still up and that he had a really good excuse, one we hadn’t encountered before. Of course, I’m rolling my eyes and thinking “Right!”

Well, he was right. Here’s the story.

The installer for the outdoor company had started the process of taking the vinyl down when he noticed a nest being built.  A hawk had decided that the space in between the two outdoor boards was a fine place to build its nest. As you may know, it is a federal offense to harm a hawk or its eggs. And, the hawk kept attacking the installer to get him away from its nest. Suffice it to say, the outdoor company left the nest alone and the eggs hatched about two weeks later and, according to some research, it will be about ten more weeks before they leave the nest.

Although, I am still shaking my head and laughing, I do find it very fitting that the creative for the outdoor board was focused on birthing services at the hospital.


We can start reforming health care by fighting obesity.

February 14, 2011

I’m sure you have read about Michelle Obama’s obesity campaign “Let’s Move” that promotes healthy choices regarding food and exercise for children. We all know this is a serious issue – about 2/3 of adults are overweight or obese and about 1/3 of our children are. 

There are a myriad of reasons for this. Let’s start with poor food choices, constant snacking and super-sized portions. It’s even been shown that school age children who eat school lunches are more prone to be obese than those who bring lunches from home. For the most part, our children spend their extra time watching television and playing video games – they don’t exercise.

 I must admit that I’ve read about these statistics and about the growing concerns associated with obesity, but my eyes really widened when I read an alarming article about how stroke rates are rising among children and younger adults. 

 According to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011, CDC analysts reported:

  • strokes in children 5 -14 years of age increased by 31% among boys and 36% among girls
  • in males 15 – 34 years old, rates increased by 51% and in females 15 to 34 years, it increased by 17%.

Although definitive links are unproven, it is suspected that obesity and hypertension are contributory factors.

To make matters even worse, at this same conference it was also reported that:

  • drinking diet soda daily is linked to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack and vascular-related deaths
  • high salt intake may double the risk of ischemic stroke, independent of sodium’s role in hypertension.

So, in layman’s terms, those diet soft drinks and potato chips and French fries that so many of our children consume, are upping their potential risk for disease – in the near future rather than in their golden years.

Another recent study by researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School, indicates that feeding an infant solid food before 4 months of age raises the child’s risk of becoming obese by the time they are toddlers.

Physicians and hospitals particularly see the fallout from obesity – diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular problems, etc.  As Lee Schwamm, MD, vice chairman of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston said, “If we don’t control traditional risk factors – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – we’re going to have a wave of cardiovascular disease in 10, 15, 20 years.”

 So, whether you agree politically or not with Mrs. Obama’s hoped-for-legacy, this is a wake up call for all of us as parents (and, yes, I know that many of you are already waging this battle with your children).

 The effort we put forth right now may very well save our children from early years of prescription usage, treatment by both physicians and hospitals and the ravaging effects of early onset of diabetes, heart disease, and even early stroke.

 So, I don’t know about you, but I think I will pass on the chocolates for myself and my son for Valentine’s Day.

Social Media and Its Impact on Brands

May 12, 2010

For many of our healthcare clients, social media is a medium they aren’t quite comfortable using yet. Many question whether it’s useful, how the flow of information can be controlled, who is going to manage it (they certainly don’t have the extra time to do that!) and wonder if they should try using it.

We believe social media can be used advantageously. One way, which is currently playing out in several mainstream news stories, is to use it as a tool to share your side of the story, to provide facts when a crisis situation occurs, and sometimes, an apology, if one is warranted.  

 In a recent Hospital Impact article, Recent Headlines Provide a Lesson for Hospital, author Nancy C. Jean discusses how social media can be used in this exact manner. As you all know by now, BP is waging a battle against negative publicity due to the massive oil spill in the Gulf.  Social media provides BP a real-time venue to explain what they are doing to contain and clean-up the problem. Paul Levy, the well-known blogging CEO of Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, has also been experiencing image problems lately due to lack of transparency regarding a relationship with an employee.  Levy, however, did issue an apology through a statement to the media as well as on his blog to his readers. Levy’s blog apology on May 3 has generated a fair amount of support from his readers and will probably help contain the damage to his brand.

Through social media, information (both truth and rumors) has the capability to almost instantaneously reach large numbers of people. It can reinforce or tarnish your brand. But, if you do not participate, you can not respond to threats to your brand.

 As my father used to say, sometimes negative reinforcement works better as a persuasion tool.  So, for those hospitals thinking about whether they should give social media a try, my question is: how can you not use social media as a tool to reach consumers?

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