How Does Marketing Automation Lead to a Proactive Healthcare Marketing Department?

Fact:Healthcare IT is at least 10 years behind other industries in terms of philosophy, sophistication, and deployment of advanced technologies.”

This includes marketing automation software, a tool that can help healthcare marketers automate repetitive tasks, reduce human error, streamline marketing activity, and ultimately improve patient engagement.

Healthcare marketers should take advantage of marketing automation for personalizing patient communication and automating engagement efforts. This technology ensures healthcare messaging is consistent, timely, and relevant to the receiver. It can help health systems retain and engage existing patients over time to drive revenue.

Once implemented, marketing automation helps hospital marketing departments transform from a reactive body to a proactive one that’s committed to actively working with patients in managing their health.

Let’s take a look at a few ways marketing automation leads to a proactive healthcare marketing department:

Bringing New Talent Into the Marketing Department 

At the onset of marketing automation implementation, many healthcare or hospital marketing departments will need to reassess their existing departmental structure. In many cases, marketing automation implementation will follow customer relationship management (CRM) implementation.

Ideally, health systems want to integrate marketing automation software with existing CRM and CMS technology within 18-24 months. Once integrated, the technology can share critical information that marketers can use to create deeply personalized experiences across patient touch points.

To guide the implementation process of this technology, marketing departments need to bring in one or two technical individuals who are willing to take ownership of the technology. These individuals should, ideally, be tech-savvy content marketers and social media experts. They may have 7-8 years of work experience but fall between 27 and 35 years old. This “super team” of millennial go-getters should be able to interpret customer data coming in through CRM and translate that information into a marketing automation solution.

Departmental restructuring will usher in a new era of ambitious and innovative individuals who are open to integrating healthcare technology that makes it easier to reach patients and improve patient care. People who had been working on projects that marketing automation software can handle could also be reallocated to new initiatives.

On top of this, these individuals may ease communication between marketing and clinical departments, which is crucial in building a consistent and branded patient communication strategy across the entire communication journey.

Automating Patient Engagement Strategies

There are two types of patients and prospects that marketing automation helps to engage: Inactive consumers who need to be nurtured until conversion, and existing patients who have already taken multiple actions but need ongoing nurturing and engagement.

For certain service lines, clinical conversions can have a lead attribution period of 1-2 years from the first ad clicked to the first appointment. An email marketing campaign can help keep inactive consumers engaged with the health system during that time.

For existing patients, retention marketing and remarketing can help remind patients of upcoming appointments or health protocols, and eventually foster loyal advocates.

Orlando Health’s New Mom campaign is one example of ongoing patient engagement. This campaign sends information to women who recently gave birth at their hospital promoting services for the new baby, women’s health services, and family services. After opting into one of these programs, the patients will receive emails with education and information about these services.

The main goal of marketing automation software is to automate the engagement process so the health system is continuously communicating with a wide range of consumers and patients.

With the data healthcare CRM software can provide, marketing automation campaigns can be highly personalized. The CRM system is the data storage system that stores all consumer and patient information as well as helps to acquire and keep patients by making interactions personalized.

The marketing automation tool comes into play as a way for healthcare marketers to act upon this wealth of data. It streamlines, automates, and measures marketing tasks and workflow in addition to tracking and automating interactions with patients and consumers across channels like email.

The integration of these two tools allows marketers to deeply personalize and target campaigns for increased success. For a proactive marketing department, consistent and personalized communication with consumers and patients is necessary to improve engagement with the health system and their long-term health.

How Marketing Automation Works in Practice (Example Scenario)

The successful integration of a marketing automation tool, CRM platform, and CMS system would be a healthcare marketing utopia. 

Here’s an example scenario of how this technology can work together to acquire and retain more patients: A CRM platform is set up to deliver an acquisition marketing campaign for a bariatrics service line, with a lead goal of 800 people and a budget of $100,000. The target for this campaign is a middle-density population urban environment of consumers aged 25-55 years old.

This acquisition campaign may have many moving parts from the digital side. The health system is running display ads, social ads, and search, as well as a light remarketing campaign. Because bariatric services typically have significant lead times, a remarketing campaign is helpful to reinforce an individual’s care decision over the long term.

In order to create harmony in this utopian technology scenario, the health system needs to make sure that the content that’s reaching prospects is consistent with content on the primary website and across many other digital vehicles that reference bariatric services.

Marketing automation then comes into play to supply high-level nurturing for consumers that are lingering well past 6 or 7 months and have yet to clinically convert. It also engages patients with cross-sell and up-sell content before and after their bariatric consultations or appointments.

Marketing automation can also be employed following a surgery for post-discharge and retention strategies. This way, the patient will receive relevant follow-up information until a different service line can be introduced to them.

Supporting Broader Population Health Initiatives

In a value-based healthcare landscape, it’s imperative that health systems shift their thinking from reactive care to proactive care. This is one of the ways healthcare can achieve the “Triple Aim” – enhancing the care experience, improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of care.

Health systems can shift to a value-based organization by building massive patient databases that can be used for ongoing healthcare communication and engagement efforts. Marketing automation can then support population health initiatives by engaging a greater number of patients with highly relevant healthcare information automatically, which leaves room for the marketing department to focus on other critical initiatives to drive revenue and improve care delivery.

The end goal of marketing automation and CRM execution is to keep people healthy and create an environment of informed, engaged, and loyal patients who are their own health advocates. Ideally, these advocates will work to keep themselves healthy in between visits to their health provider to drive healthcare costs down.

Final Thoughts

Though marketing automation and other innovative healthcare tools can help healthcare organizations reach more patients with personalized care information, almost 75 percent of recent Evariant webinar attendees do not currently have a marketing automation tool in place, or are unsure if they do.

As a result of marketing automation implementation, these organizations can improve the efficiency of their marketing departments, boost the success of patient engagement strategies, and support broader population health initiatives.

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