4 Marketing Tactics to Engage Healthcare Consumers

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Hospital leaders should understand the unique values of each generation of patients, as patients may choose their healthcare providers for different reasons based on their age, according to a report from Smith & Jones.

The report, "Understanding Healthcare Consumers," includes marketing tactics to engage consumers of different generations. For example, the Medicare population — who the report dubs the "Greatest Generation/Silent Generation" — chooses hospitals primarily on their physician's suggestion or their prior experience, while baby boomers research their options more, according to the report.

Generation X, or patients aged 30 to 45, consider healthcare brands and "shop" for healthcare, and Generation Y, or patients aged 20 to 30, are influenced by advertising, reputation and patient experiences, according to the report.

The report shares four key marketing tactics, which are often effective in engaging consumers across generations:

1.    Physician referral initiatives.

a.    Medicare patients rely largely on their physicians for healthcare decisions, so marketing to and with referring physicians can be effective.
b.    Baby boomers also rely on physicians for recommendations.
c.    Marketing to and with referring physicians, supported by reputation and positive patient experience, can attract Gen X and Gen Y patients.

2.    The customer experience.
a.    Communicating patient experiences is effective in attracting patients 65 and older.
b.    Baby boomers respond to patient experience communications both as patients and caregivers for older and younger generations.
c.    Gen X values past experiences and often uses social networks to inform their decisions.
d.    Gen Y consults prior experiences, online information, review sites and social networks when choosing a hospital.

3.    Reputation building and management.
a.    Hospitals' reputation, particularly when supported by integrated branding and marketing communications, can affect seniors' choice in hospital.
b.    Baby boomers consider hospital reputation when choosing where to seek care.
c.    Gen X relates to healthcare brands and responds to brand messages and positive patient experiences.
d.    Gen Y responds to healthcare brands and creative advertising.

4.    Integrated online and offline messaging that drives to web.

a.    Baby boomers are likely to seek information online.
b.    Gen X tends to use online information sources and responds less to healthcare advertising.
c.    Delivering messages via online, mobile, TV and in-office channels can be effective in attracting Gen Y. Mobile marketing and eHealth apps fit this generation's lifestyle.

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