Execs share key trends in healthcare marketing amid pandemic: 3 insights

Katie Adams - Print  | 

As hospitals rapidly alter their operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare marketing executives have made essential adjustments to their messaging strategies.

Now, three healthcare marketing professionals share key trends in their marketing efforts during the pandemic.

Cynthia Neiman. Chief Marketing Officer of Children's Hospital of Orange County (Calif.): We have focused efforts around providing education to parents about the virus and about ways to safely access care through, for example, telehealth. We launched a 1-844-GET-CHOC nurse helpline that runs 24/7 to provide a resource for parents to ask questions about COVID-19 and their kids and are supporting it through an out-of-home and social media campaign. We also developed social media and some out-of-home elements focused on telehealth. We had allocated some funds for movie theater advertising, but given shelter-in-place orders, we quickly paused it and will reschedule for a later date. 

Deb Pappas. Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Connecticut Children's Medical Center (Hartford): During the COVID-19 pandemic, the type of content that we have been serving up through our marketing channels has been more of a key driver of consumer engagement than changes in our marketing spend allocation. For example, we pivoted to refresh our Connecticut Children's brand campaign creative to be more of a source of guidance, helpful resources and a voice of reassurance for families, by offering up extensive digital resources such as a "Building Resilience" four-part series of videos and blog posts with one of our developmental pediatricians, as well as practical tips like "14 ways to celebrate your child's birthday during COVID-19" and "14 ways to celebrate your child's graduation during COVID-19." Both blog posts have resulted in top ranking in Google organic search results, more than seven minutes average time on page, our lowest bounce rates, and the No. 2 and No. 17 most visited pages on our website year to date.

We have reallocated our marketing spend and resources to highlight our virtual health visits and focus on key digital channels ranging from web (dedicated COVID-19 resource pages for families and pediatricians), video and social media (organic and paid), to digital display and email marketing (which has generated some of the highest open rates we've seen historically). We have also leveraged an ongoing series of Medical Minute radio spots featuring our infectious disease experts. We ramped up our internal communications to include daily COVID-19 briefing emails, a dedicated COVID-19 intranet site and weekly virtual town halls, and expanded our referring provider communications to also include daily COVID-19 briefing emails, weekly webinars and more.

We are now well into our operational resumption phase, with surgeries, procedures and in-person visits being rescheduled (in addition to continuing to offer video visits), and are rolling out our Safe and Sound program to help alleviate the fears and concerns that families may have about reengaging in the clinical care needed for their children.

Kelly Jo Golson. Chief Marketing Officer of Advocate Aurora Health (Milwaukee and Downers Grove, Ill.): One step we've taken with our marketing dollars is to turn them to education. We've sought to develop practical, informative content that is driven by the needs, questions and fears of the consumers and communities we serve. Our consumer insights team frequently engages in listening tours and input sessions to truly understand where the gaps are and how we can fill them.       

Now that we're slowly turning the dial on reactivation, we're increasingly focusing on our Safe Care Promise, outlining the many steps we're taking to protect our consumers and team members. That includes virtual check-ins, screening at all our locations, universal masking, social distancing through rearranged waiting areas and staggered appointment times, and enhanced cleaning, especially for high-touch spaces. There are countless stories of people that are delaying urgent or necessary follow-up care, and it's having a negative impact on their health and well-being. We really want to offer some reassurance and get that message to folks that it’s safe to come back to our campuses when they’re in need.             

Early on in this pandemic, we moved quickly to run what was actually more of a public service announcement focused on stopping the spread of COVID, providing sources for accurate information and sharing resources with our communities about when and how to access care. We've also worked to develop culturally relevant messaging that aims to engage communities of color and raise awareness about the need to build health equity, expand access to care and improve health outcomes in all our communities. Another priority for us is to recognize our team members and heroes on the front lines — nurses, physicians, environmental services, food services and all those in critical roles. We really want to tell the stories of these individuals that run to the danger and put their own selves at risk. We have an ongoing commitment to raise up these stories and to rally around and support our team members. Since early March, we've sought to capture these hero stories, and even created a TV spot that features several of our own team members.       

We're complementing TV and digital spots with many other efforts to tell our story, paid and organic, whether through email marketing, social media, earned media, participation in community forums, or through our own health and wellness brand journalism site, Health eNews.

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