Webinar Q&A – Top Healthcare Marketing Initiatives for 2017: Be Better, Faster, Smarter

During a recent eHealthcare Strategy webinar, Gary Druckenmiller, Marketing Practice Lead at Evariant, discussed the top five marketing initiatives health systems should focus on in 2017 to drive revenue and improve patient retention. In a competitive market, health systems need the right patient experience and the right talent to foster patient loyalty and appease the C-suite looking for digital-savvy talent.

Some critical initiatives for healthcare organizations to focus on in 2017 include data analysis, proactive call centers, patient journey mapping, CRM and CMS integration, and patient retention.

healthcare-crm-dataThe backbone of many of these initiatives is data. Health systems need a comprehensive data hub, such as a healthcare CRM, to aggregate claims, clinical, and pharmaceutical R&D data, as well as patient behavior, clickstream, and sentiment data.

These insights allow for more proactive call centers because they provide representatives with access to the rich data available in the CRM system.

Marketers also need to develop patient journey maps, which help identify gaps in the patient experience that lead to loss and limited retention.

With integrated CRM and CMS systems, marketers can deploy targeted, tracked content strategies that engage the patients experiencing these gaps. This is critical because of plateauing or even shrinking marketing budgets – marketing strategy has to shift away from patient acquisition and focus instead on high engagement and retention to maintain revenue.

Let’s take a look at some key takeaways and questions asked during the webinar:

It’s shocking and concerning that 1/3 of CMOs are being replaced in the shift toward finding digitally savvy team members. What are specific qualities and roles that you’d suggest I look for in building up my team?

The first role I would suggest looking for is an analyst. You need an analyst on staff to start mining the data that drives digital initiatives. This person should ideally be in-house and skilled in converting data to actionable insight.

The second role critical for a digital marketing team is a demand generation specialist. This person should be experienced with CRM systems, and able to own ROI. This individual or small team operates at the end of the marketing cycle to pump out campaigns in a very efficient manner.

The third role would be a content strategist who understands content classification and CMS very well. This individual should be able to generally understand content matrix marketing and the editorial process. 

There’s data everywhere. I get it and my hospital has a ton of it. How do I manage this data? Is there a specific tool or platform available that keeps this data centralized?

integrated-data-hubRegardless of which vendor you choose, the first step to managing data should be implementing a CRM solution. Especially in the case of healthcare, this solution should support big analytics and big data at an enterprise class level. Healthcare organizations should think about which data management system they’ll need in the next five years, accounting for

Healthcare organizations should think about which data management system they’ll need in the next five years, accounting for exponential growth of existing data points.

The benefit of a CRM solution is having all of your data in a centralized location, and the ability to easily pull what you need, when you need it. The Evariant platform brings together patient demographics, clinical, financial, website, call center, provider credentialing, and other disparate data sources – connecting what has never been connected before.

Do you have clients who have seen success in using CRM data to make proactive calls on clients via call centers? For example, have you seen marketing partner with call centers to call patients who are a good fit for specific services?

Absolutely, we integrate CRM and call center platforms to drive proactive care. One of our clients has been running their Evariant CRM for five years and their contact center for two years.

Because those systems are integrated, they are able to pull data out of the CRM system in real time to support call responses and create triggers that show up in an engagement console. Call center reps can then reach out to that individual with relevant information, leading to a highly proactive call center environment.

How have organizations used data and contact info from patient portals to engage patients?

Most CRMs collect patient portal data, but there isn’t much information that can be used to engage patients. The reason for this is that most patient portals aren’t user-friendly. In fact, our clients have seen very low patient portal registration percentages due to poor experiences.

That being said, patient portals can be important tools in healthcare, especially in the stage where clinical insurance is getting approved prior to a surgery or treatment date.


In your experience, which group drives these initiatives: operations or marketing?

In my experience, marketing has taken the lead in driving patient engagement initiatives. The reason for this is because most health systems’ operations teams don’t think like a business. Instead, they see their patients as case numbers and aren’t concerned with creating a seamless experience across all touch points.

Marketing teams do think like a business, so I challenge marketing departments to extend an olive branch to the operations team. Offer the operations team patient journey mapping, call center integration, and more to improve digital patient experiences.

With patient journey mapping, what service line do you suggest I use to start?

The service lines we see being used for patient journey mapping are the highest volume-generating service lines, including orthopedics and bariatrics. These service lines not only yield the highest volume, but they also typically have the longest time to surgery, and therefore the longest wait periods. With average lead times anywhere from four weeks to two months, the patient experience is extended out further than usual.

This extended experience gives you a greater chance to fail at engaging the patient, and greater opportunity for the patient to decide they no longer want the service.

Before coming to Evariant, one of our clients saw a 20-30% drop off after a surgery date was set. Because no one was communicating with the patients during the time between booking and actual surgery date, these patients either forgot about the appointment or decided they didn’t want to wait. That resulted in somewhere between $15-25M just walking out the door.

Patient journey mapping is a huge opportunity for health systems to identify gaps in the patient experience and work to engage their patients over the long term.

Related to patient journey mapping, what internal and external resources and time commitment is required to build something like this out? 

If the actual patient journey mapping exercise is outsourced, the internal time commitment isn’t significant. It may be a four- to five-hour workshop with the operations and marketing teams doing a full breakdown. Over the span of about a month and a half needed to put all the workflow together, the internal team will spend a total of 10 hours at the most.

If you do the whole process internally, it may take longer because you need to come up with templates, strategy, and more. For this reason, most health systems will outsource this task to their technology consulting team.

Final Thoughts

The healthcare industry is lagging behind other industries in adopting CRM and CMS systems, yet more patients agree hospitals and healthcare systems should consistently meet or exceed customer expectations.

Moving into 2017, healthcare organizations must adopt a patient-centric strategy in order to remain competitive and continue driving revenue. With the help of data, CRM, CMS, and digital marketing, marketers can create personalized campaigns that reach qualified consumers and patients with targeted messaging at the right point during their journey.

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Sherrie Mersdorf

Sherrie Mersdorf

Sherrie Mersdorf is the Vice President of Marketing at Evariant. As an experienced marketing leader, she brings deep knowledge and experience building marketing growth machines. This experience enables her to educate healthcare providers on how to find, guide and keep patients for life. Her main focus is creating integrated cross-channel marketing programs, testing new marketing approaches, and closing the loop and demonstrating marketing ROI through effectiveness measurement methodologies. Prior to joining Evariant, Sherrie lead marketing at NewBrand (acquired by Sprinklr) and Cvent (NYSE:CVT) where her team executed tens of thousands of campaigns a year. She has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management from the Pamplin School of Business at Virginia Tech.
Sherrie Mersdorf