Despite poet John Donne’s insistence that no man is an island, the healthcare marketing world can seem pretty isolated.
Reconnect, recharge and get inspired with fellow healthcare marketers at the Carolinas Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society (CHPRMS) Fall 2011 Conference.
Working off the theme “Changes in Altitude,” this year’s fall CHPRMS conference offers a galvanizing gathering of industry leaders and newcomers alike, set amid the inspiring heights of the mountains surrounding Asheville’s historic Grove Park Inn.
Scheduled for Dec. 7-9, the conference agenda is sure to offer something for everyone with topics that range from the reality of political correctness and planning innovation to how to deftly navigate CEO issues or capitalize on marketing with micro campaigns. Click here for the full conference agenda.
The fall CHPRMS conference is a joint meeting with the Carolinas Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development. So, in a word, it offers more bang for your buck with an even larger knowledge base and expanded networking opportunities within the industry.
Next week we’ll post an exclusive podcast with CHPRMS President Margaret Gregory, senior director of marketing and public relations at Piedmont Medical Center. She’ll address the inspiration behind this year’s fall conference, what attendees can look forward to and why such a gathering is so critical to the industry today.
It is time for you to evaluate your hospital’s digital marketing for the highest return on your investment.
The recession has provided even more momentum to the ongoing shift to digital. As advertising and marketing professionals, we often find ourselves with the difficult task of capturing consumers’ attention with a limited budget. Sound familiar?
Hospitals have to find new channels of marketing to reach consumers that our friendlier to their lean budgets.
In a recent post at The Point, Howard Sewell shares some insights on how to get more value from your digital spend: “Many of the opportunities for greatest return are not in new campaigns, but rather in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of existing programs and processes.”
4 suggestions for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your hospital’s existing digital marketing:
1. Improve your blog.
The centerpiece of your healthcare social media strategy, a blog should generate patient leads, improve SEO rankings and showcase your thought leadership (not your latest sales campaign). Make your blog at least as sharp as your hospital’s website.
Beyond your core offering, your blog — through your content, insights, solving of problems — offers your organization a great opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the daily lives of your communities and patients.
2. Make SEM work harder.
Typically, cost per lead ranges from $50 to $100 for B2B marketers. If you’re outside that range, your landing pages may need work. Make sure they are optimized for search and customized for different campaigns.
3. Spend more on content and less on media.
A compelling piece of content, such as educational YouTube video, has real long-term value, especially if you leverage it over multiple marketing campaigns.
4. Make the most of the leads you have.
Do everything you can to follow-up with new leads, promptly and systematically. Start with inbound lead follow-up. Instead of a one-size-fits-all nurturing strategy in which everyone receives the same message, use multiple tracks – targeted by age, demographic and sex.
This information is imperative to knowing how to customize your message depending on services and needs.
Turn community members into patients, and patients into your hospital’s fans by engaging them on their terms. Build trust through open and honest conversations, and timely responses.
The hard costs are minimal and the returns are substantial.
Read the full Howard Sewell’s full article Q4 Marketing Budget: 4 Key Areas to Consider
Video story telling is a powerful hospital marketing tool that is extremely effective to identify and make sense out of experiences.
Videos are quickly becoming the main way consumers search for health information. Community hospital’s videos often market the bigger over-arching brand using data and facts and miss opportunities for connecting through individual stories.
The initial step, before jumping into a storytelling video: community hospital marketers should organize and plan.
- Identify the context by analyzing the audience, purpose and delivery
- Identify the cast (people/subjects featured in video)
- Identify the storylines that provide context for each subject
- Write an overall OUTLINE of the story
- Schedule the interviews
- Outline the questions/points for the interview
- Interview each subject on-camera as a conversation
- After each interview, log and transcribe each interview
- Write final script
- Identify gaps in story
- Write narration and on-camera host scripts that interweave the interviews that display the story (beginning, middle and end).
- Edit the story. Be prepared to deviate from the script based on pacing and story execution.Â Place each piece of the puzzle together to support overall message.
- Revision cycle with stakeholders
- Deliver the message to the target audience
- Listen for brand ambassadors – Facebook, blog comments and Twitter postings are relevant up-to-date ways to connect to our future brand ambassadors. Use these channels to locate patient stories.
- Listen during the interview - Watching the subject’s facial expressions while you ask questions helps you understand what makes them tick. Does their mood change? Is now a good time for a hard question?
- Listen during the logging/transcription – Does it translate into the intended message? Log “soundbites” and opportunities for B-roll.
- Listen during the editing process - How does the story flow? If it feels awkward, forced, contradicting, etc; then be willing to change so that you feel “at peace” with the pacing.
- Listen during the revision process – Watch and listen to others as you present the story to your peers and the stakeholders. Watch their facial expressions. Notice when each person starts to lose interest or presents a complimentary emotion that matches the moment in the story. Does your audience smile or laugh when someone cracks a joke? Be willing to abandon ideas if they don’t reinforce the overarching goal.
- Most importantly, listen to your own instincts.
Before we can engage our audience with a message, we must know them! We must be able to look through their eyes, hear with their ears, feel their tendencies and understand their predispositions.
Ambulatory care centers can offer a profit, stand out among your competitors, increase patient satisfaction, align physician partners and will help market your community hospital.
They help meet your hospital’s goals
Ambulatory care centers involve competition and collaboration between hospitals and their medical staffs. Understanding your community hospital’s goals for physician alignment, patient satisfaction and profit is critical for communicating the right message to hospital partners.
- Profit – Revenues from 1987 – 2007 increased from 19 percent to 38 percent in ambulatory care centers (Olsen, K., “Outpatient Outlook,” HealthLeaders, January 2007). While traditional inpatient care centers margins have stagnated and declined by 10 percent between the same time. Significant increases in outpatient service volumes have created quite a buzz.
- Healthcare reform – To meet the goal of reducing the number of uninsured patients, ambulatory care centers will provide more health services for the increased Â demand and provide the efficiency to accommodate the increased volume. Outpatient-oriented care facilities will also benefit when the shift will focus on preventive services and healthy behaviors.
- Relationships with physicians and patients - Opportunity to develop effective outpatient service strategies can further physician income to help with their declining income stream. Patients will benefit from accessible, coordinated care for a wider range of services and conveniences in an outpatient setting.
- Ease hospital overcrowding
- Expand community brand and market share in growing suburbs
- Enable you to add services despite capital constraints
They also help meet patients’ goals
- Shortening ambulance and patient travel times
- Saving money
- Reducing wait time
- Providing greater access to care
- Increasing patient convenience and satisfaction
Developing an ambulatory care service strategy is critical for a successful outpatient center:
- Service line capabilities – Evaluate the gaps in services you currently offer and how you can expand screening, prevention and care management. Consider how changing technology, reimbursement and regulation could affect future offerings at your ambulatory care center.
- Service delivery – Adopt and practice a more efficient and customer-focused operation. Build a more patient-focused model of care.
- Market position – Assessment of the market for opportunities to add or grow services. Identify any outpatient services where your organization can penetrate the market.
- Physician alignment – Build with physicians that align with your hospital’s goals and objectives.
- Management capacity and infrastructure – Processes, systems and facilities must be well-organized, consumer friendly and well-integrated.
St. Vincent Case Study ResultsSt. Vincent Medical Center sought to expand their presence in the city’s fast-growing northeast suburbs and opened St. Vincent Medical Center Northeast in October 2008. It is providing better, more accessible care, and was a key financial strategy for St. Vincent.
- 67.2 percent increase in its patient volumes in the area during the first nine months after the building opened
- Created a new source of referrals for St. Vincent-affiliated physicians
- Achieve “first-to-market” status
Do you know of an ambulatory care center that has benefited the community? Do you have additional marketing strategies for outpatient care centers?
Cancer marketing built on data-driven facts without exaggeration and the use of words such as highest, lowest, first, best (anything that can’t be backed up) is the only way to build a campaign with integrity and transparency.
Typically, community hospitals’ cancer ads sell hope to the public from anecdotal data that would not be statistically valid.
Marketers should use their analytical skills to identify statistically valid facts that provide differentiation between your hospital and its competitors. Creative departments should attempt to conceive ads which are emotionally powerful but checked for accuracy and facts to support claims.
Cancer marketing built on data-driven facts without exaggeration and the use of words such as highest, lowest, first, best that can’t be backed up is the only way to build a campaign with integrity and transparency.
Cancer strikes fear in us all. Today one in every four Americans is diagnosed with cancer. Cancer service lines tend to focus on fear-based emotional marketing to persuade patients into believing its hospital is the miracle cure for cancer. Our job as healthcare marketers is to sell our hospital’s cancer center with integrity and transparency.
In a recent New York Times article, Natasha Singer provides examples how technology, testimonial and cancer research advertisements have not used facts to support their emotional claims.
The two following cancer center ads show how far the cancer message has been pushed to be compelling and remembered:
1. It seems like a miracle
“Cancer, you said I’d never bear children,” reads the handwritten letter, held out by Michelle, a healthy-looking woman, as a toddler peeks from behind the paper. “My daughter says you’re wrong,” print ad from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Facts – Special case of early-stage cervical cancer
- Other hospitals in New Jersey could offer her only a hysterectomy.
- Eligible for a novel operation (less invasive surgery) that is now standard treatment at the center.
- Needed fertility treatments to conceive.
- One of the few patients who did not need radiation — which can cause fertility problems.
- Became pregnant.
Ellen Miller-Sonet, vice president for marketing at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, said “Consumers seeing the ads realize that these were individual stories. They know that no two people are the same.”
I question this statement. We all want to believe that when our family member or ourselves fall victims to cancer that these heroic case studies will happen for us too. Advertisers attempt to provoke an emotional reaction in their messaging, but they cannot control how a patient or patient’s family actually reacts.
2. Life without cancer
“We gave Nick something he couldn’t find anywhere else in the Northeast. Life without cancer.” Quoted by a pediatric patient with brain cancer’s mom at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston.
Facts – Use of radiology proton beam therapy machine
- True – Only hospital in the Northeast with this treatment option.
- Quoted by Dr. Birkmeyer of Michigan: “No studies have shown that proton beam therapy has higher brain cancer cure rates than other treatment methods.”
- If the maker of a radiology machine had run this same ad “promising “life without cancer,” the FDA would require them to support the claims.
We all can find cancer patients like Nick and Michelle who have experienced a positive outcome. Natasha cited in her article, “Cancer experts interviewed for this article say there are no comprehensive statistics showing that any one elite medical center has better overall cancer success rates than its competitors.”
We all have fallen victim to promoting the latest technologies, promised unique care or recounted miraculous patient recoveries without the use of data to back up the claims.
In my marketing experience, it felt good knowing the stories and claims could provide hope to patients and their families when a diagnosis seemed so bleak. But I would hate for the families to feel they are to blame if a loved one’s treatment doesn’t succeed like I gave claim to. We should provideÂ meaningful and actionable information that allows them to make informed decisions about their health.
Do you feel these campaigns use superiority claims or are based on survivor success stories without medical statistics to back their claims? Do you think they could bring false hope to patients?
- Abington Memorial Hospital Commercial
- TV Commercial from Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center
- “Making Cancer History” promotional site from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston
Read the entire article: Cancer Center Ads Use Emotion More Than Fact.