August 3, 2012
Poor communication – due to time crunches, stress or a failure to understand your audience – can be costing your community hospital time and money. Make the most of your community hospital marketing and vendor relationships by communicating effectively.
Three tips for more effective communication with your vendors:
- Simplify communication. Many frustrations from client-vendor relationships stem from people using complicated terminology and not speaking the same language. Your vendor won’t necessarily understand your hospital terminology just as you may not understand his technical jargon. Keep it simple. Explain your goals in relevant, easy-to-understand terms so everyone is on the same page.
- Practice. Take the time to distance yourself from your email. Reread it. Is it easy for anyone to walk by and understand what you’re trying to convey? Test your ability to communicate in a non-technical fashion by attempting to teach or review a project with someone unfamiliar with it.
- Be intentional. Does your contact communicate best over the phone or via email? Are you even talking to the right person? Is the information you’re trying to express better communicated in bullet points for easier reading? Every communication represents an opportunity to improve.
Don’t get lost in translation. Here are some of the top four communication pitfalls I’ve spotted and how you can successfully navigate through them:
- Never respond before reading. Don’t rush through emails or hastily review projects. Set aside time to carefully address all questions asked. Supplement emails with phone calls, in-person meetings or video conferences to determine key project points, especially if there’s a change in direction.
- Compile communication. It’s not very efficient to fire six emails with string-of-conscience thoughts. If you’re someone who likes to respond quickly, draft an email and then walk away for a while. Make sure you’ve addressed all facets of communication and included all feedback and answers required.
- Take time to catch everyone up to speed. It’s inevitable: there will be latecomers – team members brought into an already advanced marketing project.
- Be proactive about getting these new team members up to speed. Meet in person or in a video or phone conference to direct their enthusiasm to new, forward-thinking project developments and decisions. The time investment will ensure the team member feels valued, and your project is less likely to be delayed by broken communication or incomplete knowledge.
- Involve decision-makers early so their input is incorporated into projects at the start, rather than at the end when it might completely change the nature of a project.
- Pay attention to the warning signs. Part of the nuance of being a master communicator is the ability to quickly spot communication breakdowns and intervene swiftly. If you receive an email that seems even remotely confused or frustrated, pick up the phone and call to resolve the issue. Similarly, if you’re the one who’s perplexed, consider switching to a call or in-person meeting for clarification.
Remember that communication is a two-way street. Embody your community hospital’s best practices in every communication, every email, every phone call. You’ll be a better marketer and communicator for it!
February 17, 2011
The Internet has become a primary source for healthcare information. With medical knowledge in such high demand on the Web, community hospitals must promote their brands by being a resource to online consumers.
Recent Findings From The Pew Internet Project
Click here to download the full 2011 report from The Pew Internet & American Life Project.
- 59 percent of the overall U.S. population seeks heath information online.
- Nearly two-thirds of these health seekers were looking for information about a specific disease or medical problem.
- 17 percent of cell phone users have specifically used their phones to look up health or medical information.
- Nearly half of internet users who go online for health information are searching on behalf of someone else.
What This Means for Community Hospital Marketers
- The online public is in need of a credible source for medical information.
- By establishing your hospital as an informed source on the Web, you will gain patient trust.
- The Web will direct a whole new audience of information seekers to your community hospital.
- This online community will only grow, so getting ready now is a must.
Get to Know Your Online Audience
According to The Pew Internet Project, the following demographic groups are more likely to search for healthcare information online:
- Non-hispanic whites
- Young adults
- Those with higher levels of education
Online Marketing Essentials
- Make sure your hospital’s website is easy to find on search engines, especially Google:
See 5 basic search engine optimization techniques
- Send frequent e-mail newsletters of health data and information to your patient lists; include links to more information on the Web.
- If you have lots of health information available in digital form, consider establishing a searchable database for online patients seeking information about medical problems.
Hospitals With a Presence on the Web
- University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinic offers a complete online Health Information Library for online medical seekers. The site features a full index on topics such as symptoms and diseases, surgeries and procedures, nutrition and self care. You can also request an appointment online or browse the hospital staff to find a doctor.
- Presbyterian Healthcare of Charlotte, N.C., also offers an online Health Library with categorized searches for medical animations, interactive health tools and an assortment of health topics in both English and Spanish. Presbyterian also sends out regular e-newsletters on a variety of health topics, which are also available online.
September 1, 2010
Defining a clear target audience for your hospital’s blog(s) is important in order to deliver relevant information on a personal level.
“If you market to everyone, you will end up marketing to no one.”
This is one of my favorite business quotes – it not only applies when marketing your community hospital through traditional channels, but it applies to your hospital’s blogging practices as well.
One of the unique abilities of blogging is that it allows us to connect and share ideas with people from all over the world like never before, but does that really matter when it comes to your community hospital’s blog(s)? Short answer: No.
The ability to extend our reach and easily connect with people hundreds and thousands of miles away is exciting, but we must remember that bigger isn’t always better. Defining a clear target audience for your hospital’s blog(s) is just as important to its success as it is to the success of traditional forms of marketing.
Think of blogging as grassroots marketing in real-time. It’s about connecting with individuals and building strong, lasting relationships. Focusing on your niche and delivering relevant information that is specific to that audience is the key.
Jamie Lyons of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston has pioneered this concept and is really hitting the mark. The hospital has blogs focused on narrow topics. Below are a couple of examples.
- Living with Breast Cancer, written by a two-time survivor and experienced oncology social worker
- Running a Hospital, by Beth Israel CEO, Paul Levy
Each one of these blogs has a very different niche audience. The power of niche blogs comes from the ability to narrowly focus your message (writing about life after cancer, the struggles of parenthood or running a hospital) which makes each topic relevant to its audience and reaches people on a deeper level.
Having several blogs may seem intimidating at first, but I think you will find that writing posts will be much easier when you have a targeted group rather than trying to make things interesting for everyone.
Remember that healthcare is a personal business and you must connect on a personal level.