10 big ideas in healthcare marketing

From the best tools healthcare marketers can use to reach patients to the increased responsibility to provide patients with reliable health information amid the pandemic, here are 10 big ideas that healthcare marketing executives shared with Becker's Hospital Review in the past three months.

Lauren Davis, system director of digital marketing and consumer strategy, Adventist Health (Roseville, Calif.): We are continuing the move from transactional encounters with patients towards deeper, lifelong relationships as we continue to focus on the complete experience across the full care continuum. The digital experience is a core part of that journey.

Vickie White, senior vice president and chief brand and marketing officer, AdventHealth (Altamonte Springs, Fla.): The incredible nature of our own bodies should remind us every day how important it is to take care of ourselves. But with all we're going through that takes place outside our own individual bodies — the collective physical and emotional turmoil, hurt and hardship — we can also be reminded of our incredible power as humans to persevere together. What a profoundly beautiful and empowering truth it is to find that caring for ourselves gives us the strength to care for each other.

Manny Rodriguez, chief marketing, experience and customer officer, UCHealth (Aurora, Colo.): In marketing, most healthcare organizations say "we" this and "we" that — they forget that they are in the business of "you." These messages should be a conversation why we are here — because of our patients — not a theme about the healthcare system, as is so often the case. Why do all healthcare marketers feel the need to feature themselves and talk about themselves, to highlight how wonderful they are? It is about the person for whom we are caring. Let's focus on who we are here to serve and their stories — not us.

John Nguyen, chief marketing officer, SSM Health (St. Louis): Your marketing activities themselves actually help you learn more about your prospects and segments, and therefore, improve your marketing. It's a virtuous cycle. The same is true for much of our digital technology. If geo-fencing lets me know that this person goes to the gym twice a week, what else can I infer about them and their needs? What can I learn from marketing to them? The future of healthcare marketing will be won by those who best understand their customers. To me, the technologies and tools that help me learn at the same time as I am engaging with customers are the most useful.

William Koleszar, chief marketing officer, National Spine and Pain Centers (Rockville, Md.): Human nature is a formidable force. Don't bet against it, or you will almost always come up short. Indeed, it's an important lesson that goes far beyond marketing!

Don Stanziano, chief marketing and communications officer, Geisinger Health (Danville, Pa.): The most important lesson I've learned from an unsuccessful campaign is to take the time to include the voice of the customer and test creative. Creative can be very subjective, and while creative teams and agencies like to push the envelope in an attempt to be different and provocative, in the end the best campaigns connect with their desired audience on an emotional level. It's easy in the rush to hit deadlines to shortcut consumer testing, but that is risky. 

Suzanne Hendery, chief marketing and customer officer, Renown Health (Reno, Nev.): I admire those companies and organizations that go beyond satisfaction, to create lifetime loyalty with their customers by delighting them with both the online and in-person experience. Organizations like MD Anderson, Dana-Farber Cancer, Piedmont, Ochsner and Geisinger always come to mind.

Adrian Stanton, vice president of business development and community relations, Virginia Hospital Center (Arlington): Even in normal times, the intricacies of the healthcare delivery system are complex and can be confusing, which makes clear communication with the public so critical. But now, in the midst of a global pandemic, the need for clear communication of accurate information is even greater because information can help reduce confusion and anxiety during uncertain times.

Katy Rigsby, vice president of marketing and communications, OhioHealth (Columbus): We aspire to have our brand come across in a human way to people so that our brand feels and sounds human, not like a bunch of corporate speak. The brands we most admire have a great ability to do that in their marketing campaigns — brands like Southwest. Similar to healthcare, they have a big focus on customer service and efficiency. 

Catherine S. Harrell, chief marketing officer, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (Baton Rouge, La.): Hospitals and health systems have always had a responsibility to be a credible source of truth to their communities with advocacy built around scientific, evidenced-based public health information. COVID-19 has magnified the barrage of messages consumers receive with new recognition of an individual’s difficulty in sorting out fact from fiction and opinion, especially about prevention and treatment of the virus. As guardians of public trust, healthcare organizations are compelled to provide facts and rebut intentional misinformation campaigns, which are so easily spread online. Good medicine is based on science and responsible practice. Good health is based on the same, and that’s the business we’re in. Eventually this pandemic will be behind us, but the need for public health education will continue, and healthcare’s clear and credible voice must never be drowned out. 

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