Healthcare marketing 2020: Put patients first or perish

For the better part of a decade, I’ve thought one of the best healthcare marketing campaigns belonged to a North Carolina-based hospital system, Novant Health. It was remarkable. And that’s not my opinion; that’s their mission -- to “deliver the most remarkable patient experience, in every dimension, every time.”

That’s one heck of a promise, isn’t it?

The fact is that any hospital, healthcare system or provider that hasn’t realized putting the patient experience first is critical is terribly behind. Today’s patients are smart, savvy, critical and they want to be actively engaged in selecting their care and who provides it.

Jesse Ambrosina, COO of our client Ivenix, says the way patients (also known as customers, consumers) think about their healthcare will soon closely mirror the way we handle our finances and retirement planning. Gone are the days when we counted on a pension to get us through retirement; now we’re actively engaged in our own retirement - perhaps with the guidance of a financial advisor - through IRAs, 401(k)s and other investment tools.

He argues that our healthcare will - if it hasn’t already begun to - quickly follow suite.

But what, specifically, does this mean for healthcare marketers? Put simply, if your marketing campaigns are not reaching these savvy patients, they’re going elsewhere.

Here are four ways to bring your healthcare marketing plan up to speed in 2020:

  1. Personalize the patient experience. All other fields call them customers or consumers, and they’re steadfastly focused on making sure they’re experience is, well, remarkable. The field of customer experience (CX) is growing every day and those who aren’t adopting a sound CX plan are being left behind.

    It’s likely your care team and providers have long stressed a patient-first mentality and it’s probably something you hear from the C-Suite in all-hands meetings. It’s time to incorporate it into your marketing plan.

    Personalization is a great first step in boosting your CX and overall marketing strategy. According to a Forbes Council piece on overall marketing trends in 2020, 90% of people in a 1,000-person study said they found personalization “appealing.” And - perhaps more importantly - 80% said they’re more likely to give their business to a company that offered them a personalized experience.

  2. Focus on content marketing (including interactive and video). Healthcare Tech Outlook recently ran a story that explored what healthcare marketing trends would likely rule in 2020 and, not surprisingly, content marketing topped its list.

    If content marketing is not in your healthcare marketing plan, it’s seriously time for a check-up. I’ve written before on why a healthy content marketing plan is so important to overall marketing strategy, and many 2020 trends pieces agree. Remember, three key things make for a robust plan in the healthcare space: compelling content, a partner to disseminate it and a trusted expert to make the content worthy of your brand.

    Don’t be afraid to be interactive. Remember, content is not limited to the written word. Explore videos, podcasts or other interactive features like virtual and augmented reality.

  3. Don’t forget influencers. Those trusted doctors, nurses, IT professionals or specialists noted above for content - find ways to leverage their expertise in a valuable way. Not utilizing their experience in a meaningful way can hurt your marketing efforts, warns the American Marketing Association (AMA).

    Talk to them. They’re on the front lines listening to patient’s concerns. Chances are they’re hearing about how difficult or easy it is to log onto your patient portal or to make an appointment as they are about symptoms. If you want to personalize the patient experience, you need to leverage insight from the providers.

  4. Integration is key. In healthcare, we often talk about integration, such as integrating medical devices with electronic medical record and across various devices. It’s critical in the delivery of care and your marketing strategy.

    You can have all the makings of a fantastic healthcare marketing plan, but if you technology doesn’t play nicely together then none of it matters.

There are many ways to develop and implement a successful healthcare marketing plan and there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all approach. But if you wants to be as remarkable as the care your providers are giving patients, day in and day out, start with these four tips.

You never know, adding a few of these could have someone referencing your marketing plan a decade from now as well.

If after reading this you think your plan might be in need of a checkup, let’s talk about how to implement a healthy marketing strategy for your healthcare organization.