This article was written by Jessica Levco, a healthcare freelance writer.
Like most of you, we’ve been reading a lot of stories of what hospital marketers and communicators can expect for 2020.
We nodded our heads along in agreement with a lot of tips, tricks and trends that were mentioned. Then, we asked our audience if any other trends might be missing from the big catchall lists. Here’s what they said:
Tracy Baldwin, director of brand marketing at the American Osteopathic Association, enjoyed reading The Empathy Edge: Harnessing the Value of Compassion as an Engine for Success by Maria Ross. The book is about how the author suffered from a brain aneurysm and how the hospital she went to focused on patient-and-family centered care.
For the author, this made a huge difference in how she was cared for — and it fundamentally changed the trajectory of her recovery and experience.
“It was the simple things the hospital did for her — knocking on the door before someone came in, allowing her husband to be in her room at all times, letting her choose the food she wanted to eat each day, giving her a binder of resources to help her and having a caregiver take notes when a doctor came in to talk about specific instructions,” Baldwin says.
Baldwin says that empathy isn’t a commodity. And it’s not enough for hospitals to say they are empathetic — patients want to see that value shine through in the patient experience. For starters, Baldwin encourages hospital marketers to analyze how they tell patient stories. Are they letting empathy come through?
“We see so much content written about the outcome, how the hospital saved a person, how the doctor cured cancer and how the hospital gave someone a better quality of life,” Baldwin says. “But we want to hear more stories about the process — the whole patient journey. Being empathetic and showing your brand’s empathy in the patient journey could prove to be a differentiator for your brand.”
You might need to re-think your search strategy
"Google is no longer 'everyone’s search engine,’” said Rand Fishkin at his keynote at SMX East. “They’re now everyone’s competitor.”
Jared Johnson, founder of Shift.Health, explains that Fishkin was referring to the fact that in June 2019, the majority of Google searches ended without a click on an organic or paid search result. This means that the majority of Google searches ended right on the search results page, without the user clicking through to any results.
Johnson also explains: “Voice searches on smart devices with Alexa, Google Home Assistant and Siri are also changing the game because they typically pick a single answer rather than offering 10 results on a page and letting the user decide. Many organizations are seeing organic traffic drop. They need to understand how to take advantage of this new search reality.”
Make sure your live-chat feature is effective
Now that you’ve set up your hospital’s chatbot or some type of live-chat feature on your website, you’ve got to find out: Is it answering questions promptly?
Drew Diskin, director of marketing technology at Virtua Health, wanted to figure out pain points patients had with their website. To get the listening help the marketing team needed, they turned to gSight, a suite of digital improvement tools developed by Greystone.Net and Klein & Partners. One of the tools is an online survey, which pops up on Virtua’s website. Once patients fill out the survey, Virtua marketers can see responses in real time.
Survey responses showed that one pain point was their virtual chat option. Visitors complained that their questions weren’t getting answered and that the hours it was available were not conducive to their work schedule.
In a recent Greystone Backstage Pass webinar, Diskin explained how they were able to address the issues. They created a team of four people to answer chat questions as they come in. The conversion rate of chats to appointments went from 50 percent to 89 percent. Also, a small team will cover the chat feature 24/7 to answer questions from visitors.
Market your new real estate deal
As hospitals and health systems continue to consolidate and seek both new sources of revenue and cost-saving measures, many are looking for creative ways to use land and building space. From retail partnerships to parking optimization, hospitals have begun to “off-book” many of their non-core assets, leading to cost savings and/or new revenue streams that help them meet their mission of providing care.
“A hospital’s core mission is providing health care; not real estate development,” says Barry Schain, principal of Wabash Associates. “However, the fiscal and operational benefits of working with someone in that field can greatly assist a hospital in providing great care to the communities they serve.”
Plus, interesting real estate development deals could lead to some new story opportunities for your hospital to share. Take a look at these examples:
- Beaumont Health is building a 117,000-square-foot shopping center near its Royal Oak hospital campus. It will include a grocery store, a five-story hotel, an urgent-care facility, a dance studio, a brewpub, café and several restaurants.
Marketers can accelerate the growth of telehealth adoption
Whether you call them patients or consumers, they expect (or even demand) a better experience when interacting with healthcare providers. One way to do this is through telemedicine because it addresses the issues of convenience, access and cost, says Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association.
“Healthcare organizations need to embrace that telehealth can enhance the patient experience — and often the clinician’s experience as well — and recognize that just as brick and mortar businesses created a digital front door to survive, we must do the same,” Mond Johnson said.