Healthcare Marketing: How to Drive Results in 2019

financial report chart and calculator medical report and stethoscope Healthcare marketing has come a long way in the last few years, especially when it comes to integrating technology and adopting a digital-first mindset. This evolution is due in part to sweeping changes in the industry, like value-based care, an influx of new players, like retail health, and the continual growth consumer power (ie consumerism).

As a result, hospitals and health systems need to adjust their strategy and focus on superior, personalized experiences to acquire, engage, and (most importantly) retain patients. If you can’t pivot quickly, you’ll lose to the competition—or worse, your marketing investments will simply create demand for them.

The key to success in 2019 pushing the foundation marketers have built in the last couple of years further. In other words, it’s time to take advantage of technology and digital tactics to move the needle on personalization efforts at scale and bring revenue into the organization. Let’s review what it’s going to take to drive results this year:

Prioritize the Customer Experience

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that providing superior customer experiences is paramount to long-term success for healthcare organizations. With the sheer amount of care options now available, the reality is: if you aren’t giving consumers the experience they want, they’ll find a new provider. And many are. 47% of respondents in a recent study said they used a walk-in or retail clinic last year. Consumers want convenient and quality experiences.

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With today’s market being so competitive and the cost of acquiring new customers five times that of retaining one, marketers’ focus should be on creating care experiences that result in patients for life. Here are three key elements for success:

1. Data & Technology

The first step on the road to better customer experiences is having the right data and the right technology. For today’s marketers, having an HCRM in place should be the baseline. Not only is it a repository for consumer information not available in clinical systems (like communication preferences and social media profiles) but it also weaves together data from other sources to create comprehensive patient profiles. This may include behavioral, financial, call center, provider credentialing information, and more.

Most importantly, a CRM analyzes this data to provide best next action insights. Leveraging these insights, marketers execute precision marketing plans that reach highly-targeted audiences with relevant and valuable campaign messaging deployed through consumers’ preferred communication channels. The end result is a personalized and engaging outreach strategy that furthers both acquisition and retention efforts, because it feels tailor-made for each consumer.

2. Marketing Automation

One of the significant challenges marketers face when it comes to personalizing the patient journey is how to scale it. A marketing automation solution, like Salesforce Marketing Cloud®, is a critical tool for doing just that, by automating tasks and communication workflows. This tool should be used for both acquisition efforts (as in, nurturing consumers until a point of conversion), population health programs, and retention initiatives.

Automated workflows allow the team to nurture existing patients who have already taken multiple actions, say, had surgery and a follow-up appointment, without the risk of human error. Valuable and consistent communication (like an email reminder for flu shot providers in their area) establishes a partnership between the individual and provider—thereby creating loyalty and trust that leads to long-term retention.

3. Cross-Team Collaboration

There’s no shortage of moving pieces when it comes to healthcare organizations, from the physician team to operations to marketing. The problem is, many departments operate in silos despite working toward the same goal: creating a better care experience.

To create an experience that truly feels personalized across all channels and all touchpoints, cross-team collaboration is critical. In some cases, marketers need to spearhead this effort by opening up a line of communication, sharing key data, and aligning workflows across departments.

Take marketing and the call center as an example. These are two departments that traditionally don’t communicate at all, and yet the call center is the first touchpoint for 75 percent of consumers. If that first touchpoint isn’t aligned with consumer expectations, you’ve missed an opportunity to create a memorable and personalized first impression. Fortunately, through cross-team collaboration—backed by technology, integrations, and data—creating a unified experience through the “digital” front door is completely within reach. It’s becoming the new foundation.

Unite Your Marketing Technology

In 2018, we saw a surge in hospital marketing teams integrating key technology systems—like the CRM, CMS, marketing automation, and more—into their workflow and strategy. Moving into 2019, marketers must link these systems in order to fully deliver on their core promise, providing a reliable and consistent experience for consumers.

That requires harmonization of these technologies, which means integrating workflows, data, and personalization efforts. Some marketers may already be getting a glimpse of why this is critical, with the implementation of an HCRM and marketing automation tool. Without a reliable architecture like a content management system to tie these pieces together, the result is fragmented content delivery and an inconsistent experience for consumers.

Another key piece to the technology puzzle is the EMR, something with which marketing previously had little to no contact. In an effort to further personalize efforts and ensure seamless engagement with consumers and patients, we need integrate our efforts with the clinical data available in the EMR and allow EMR data to inform propensity models for better ongoing segmentation and identification of at-risk populations. Much of it is intrinsically related to marketing efforts, especially things like doctor names and appointment times. These were data points previously excluded from marketing communication, but certainly play a role in creating a much more personalized customer experience.

Integrating your marketing stack with other enterprise systems will require IT support. This can be uncharted waters for marketing teams.

Integrate Physicians into Your Strategy

When we talk about consumer marketing in healthcare, physicians are often missing from the conversation. But, in our efforts to personalize the customer experience, physicians—the one with the most personal relationship with patients of all—need to be involved.

For example, marketers should integrate physician liaison outreach teams into the campaign strategy, before the campaigns even launch. This means that the first communication should be going to physicians, highlighting what the campaign messaging will be, what communication channels will be used, and what the target audience is. That way, practice groups are prepped to reinforce and answer questions that come up when the campaign goes live.

The goal with this is two-fold: 1) physicians are operationally ready to service those consumers, and 2) patients’ in-person experience is consistent with the marketing messages they received.

Final Thoughts

An alarming 81 percent of consumers today are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience, and the ones who are happy have the least interaction with their health system. This is a clear sign that its time to change. With the right strategy and technology in place, marketing plays a significant part in helping health systems achieve business and experiences goals throughout the care journey, from a consumer’s first touchpoint to ongoing care management. And possibly most important, when executed effectively, marketing is seen in a new light within the organization. They move from being seen as a cost center to a strategic revenue driver, helping the entire organization understand where there are new opportunities in the market and presenting plans to drive the right kind of engagement.

Gary Druckenmiller

Gary Druckenmiller

Gary Druckenmiller, Jr. is Vice President, Customer Success at Evariant. He functions as lead strategist, digital marketing thought leader and C-level executive sponsor for all of Evariant’s enterprise clients, primarily focused on advising health system leadership of opportunistic methods to improve their digital presence and interactive growth potential. Prior to Evariant, Gary served as Vice-President for Harte-Hanks, responsible for healthcare digital strategy and deliverables including multi-channel campaigns, paid digital media, social media, CRM and analytics. Gary has been with Evariant for 8 years and can be heard often on the hospital marketing speaking circuit. Gary has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Bentley University.
Gary Druckenmiller