How to create a unified patient acquisition and retention strategy across regions

A recent post from Evariant discussing strategies for patient acquisition and retention.

Rachel Neely is the Senior Healthcare Consultant at Evariant. In this role, she serves as a healthcare marketing expert, guiding clients through collaborative workshops, identifying and reconciling points of marketing/physician ROI, overseeing the usability of Evariant products and solutions to ensure they meet client-specific needs, and collaborating with Physician and Marketing Practice Leaders to build new assets and points of view. Rachel holds a BA in Communication from Purdue University with specializations in Advertising and PR.

It’s almost certain that you spent much of 2018 hearing about major mergers and acquisitions in the industry—the CVS and Aetna merger, JP Morgan, Amazon, and Berkshire Hathaway joining forces, CommonSpirit (Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiative) and many more. M&As activity in healthcare is double what it was a decade ago and 71% of respondents expect their organizations’ merger, acquisition, and partnership activity to increase within the next three years. Health systems use M&As as a growth strategy by acquiring the new talent and technologies necessary to remain relevant to customers. M&As can also be a great way for healthcare organizations to quickly fill current business gaps.

When a health system merges with or acquires another, it can change existing patient acquisition and retention processes; while the integration process is never overnight, there are new considerations. Furthermore, M&As often result in the adoption of new regional markets, which existing processes may not be built for.

A significant challenge many health systems face is how to create and maintain a successful patient acquisition and retention strategy in the face of mergers and acquisitions; in other words, how do you balance unifying your strategy at the system level while ensuring regional nuances are maintained?    

Let’s examine three proven best practices health systems follow to build successful patient acquisition and retention strategies across new regional markets, whether through M&A activity or organic expansion:  

Evaluate Current Processes & Define Where You Want to Be  

Adding a new regional market into a health system presents an excellent opportunity to audit your existing marketing processes – namely how you acquire and retain patients – and identify areas for improvement.

Patient acquisition and retention efforts require a range of marketing and business development functionalities, from data collection and analysis to campaign creation, experience management, nurturing, reporting, and more. To appeal to patients’ digital preferences, marketers must have mature processes in place. But not all healthcare marketing departments are where they need to be in terms of data readiness, technology, strategy, and content.

There are four pillars of success when it come healthcare marketing maturity:

  • Robust Data
  • Lead Management
  • Campaign Performance
  • Metrics and Measurement

With these elements in place, the marketing department transitions from a cost center (characterized by digital chaos, manual processes, uncoordinated infrastructure, and lack of consistency) into a strategic asset.

Strategic marketing teams have a sophisticated infrastructure with predictable IT service levels and total patient experience management. They’re also closely partnered with data warehouse teams and have the technology platforms in place to automate marketing practices where possible.

So, let’s take lead management as an example. A lot of marketing teams don’t have visibility into where their leads go after they’re brought in. Part of achieving maturity is implementing the right processes and playbooks to ensure marketing leads are fed to the right departments. Here’s what that might look like:

The marketing team puts together a new campaign geared at acquiring new patients:

  • Before launch, the marketing team connects with operations to walk them through the process of lead capture and ensure each party understands their accountability.
  • They clarify how leads will be captured, what assets are in the market, and how consumers can connect with the healthcare system.
  • They then determine what happens after an inquiry is made:
    • Marketing is responsible for qualifying that consumer to ensure they’re ready to talk to operations.
    • OR the consumer will go straight to operations, and they will handle qualification.
    • OR the consumer goes to a call center environment. Marketing and operations teams need to prep agents to handle calls coming from the campaign and ensure they’re directing calls to the right department.

In the wake of a M&As, you must have strategic playbooks in place for lead management, data collection, and performance reporting. Without them, marketers would be putting campaigns blindly into market, with no insight into where consumers go, or ultimately how the campaign impacts the health systems’ bottom line.

Implement a Cloud-Based Enterprise Solution

A unified patient retention strategy, post-acquisition, requires unified data. This means all regional healthcare facilities need to consolidate their marketing data into a single, centralized platform.

To do so, adopt a cloud-based enterprise solution that aggregates data across disparate locations and – most importantly – provides actionable insights through guided top opportunity analysis. Since it’s hosted in the cloud, marketers across the health system can access data and insights easily and continuously input new data as they form relationships with patients. This functionality in particular ensures every marketer has the 360-degree patient views they need to connect with patients on personal levels.

A centralized data hub also helps fill data gaps. Where one region may lack the insights needed to build an effective campaign, other marketing teams fill in the blanks with cloud-hosted data from other in-network hospitals. This strategy helps solve for smarter patient growth and loyalty, communication throughout the care continuum, and demonstrated ROI across the enterprise.  

Enable Regional Autonomy with Enterprise Goals in Mind

We know that personalization is key for successful healthcare campaigns, so don’t think that a unified acquisition and retention strategy eliminates individuality – each market is different.

While there are enterprise-wide goals, such as increasing market share or number of patients, it’s important to assign each region their portion of the goal with the autonomy to determine where the biggest opportunities lie based on unique market needs. Each region can then execute on the right campaigns for their market in order to meet system-level goals.

When it comes to messaging, each region should use location-specific details whenever possible, like noting the clinical centers closest to your target audience or listing wellness events in their area. You can ensure consistency across regions with communication templates – core messaging, imagery, and tracking is standardized, but each market can customize with location and service-specific data.

However - reporting is one element that does require standardization across regions. When measuring marketing's ROI, you need to compare apples to apples; if each region has their own reporting technique, it’s impossible to compile into a clear, enterprise-wide picture of acquisition and retention performance. Make sure every region knows what the enterprise’s goals are and which metrics are valuable to showcase progress.

Using a unified reporting structure will ensure that, as an enterprise, you’re accurately understanding marketing performance and use it to optimize campaigns in real-time.   

Case Study: Trinity Health

Take Trinity Health’s experience as an example of the success of digital marketing strategy unification; Trinity Health, which encompasses 94 hospitals across 22 states, wanted to streamline how they identify, prioritize, and nurture the highest-opportunity patients and turn their marketing departments into data-driven ROI engines.

The problem was – Trinity has many operating health systems coming together. Each of these health systems requires their own marketing platform, because they have their own data and track their own campaigns. Trinity decided to implement an overarching enterprise data warehouse that fed information into each individual health systems’ platform. With both an enterprise data solution and individual platforms in place, they see both a macro view (performance across all locations) and micro views (how each individual health system is performing).

An added benefit of consolidated data across regions and locations is a single source system where they can share economies of scale, budgets, specific tactics, and content. Trinity can scale and grow faster because they are sharing best practices across all regional systems, instead of approaching them as siloed entities.

One “best practice” example is having a standardized communication template that’s passed to the local market level. These templates are really plug-and-play, so each location can customize based on their brand, demographics and market needs, but there is a level of consistency across regions. 

By consolidating their data, employing a cloud-based data management solution, and leveraging scale while being mindful of strong local brands, Trinity Health saw results like a 906 percent increase in digital leads and a 70 percent net growth in campaign ROI year over year.      

Final Thoughts

Creating a unified patient acquisition and retention strategy in the wake of an M&A or expansion comes down to this: enabling regional autonomy with system growth in mind.

New and improved processes, strategic playbooks, and unified data all play a critical role in enabling this autonomy. When it comes time for campaign launch, regional marketers should take advantage of digital marketing tactics to both meet patient preferences and precisely target specific regions with personalized messaging. As a bonus, digital campaigns can be quickly pivoted, adjusted, and optimized to ensure each region meets (or better yet, exceeds) their portion of the enterprise-wide goals.

 

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Title: How to Create a Unified Patient Acquisition and Retention Strategy Across Regions

Author: Rachel Neely

Bio: Rachel Neely is the Senior Healthcare Consultant at Evariant. In this role, she serves as a healthcare marketing expert, guiding clients through collaborative workshops, identifying and reconciling points of marketing/physician ROI, overseeing the usability of Evariant products and solutions to ensure they meet client-specific needs, and collaborating with Physician and Marketing Practice Leaders to build new assets and points of view. Rachel holds a BA in Communication from Purdue University with specializations in Advertising and PR.

 

It’s almost certain that you spent much of 2018 hearing about major mergers and acquisitions in the industry—the CVS and Aetna merger, JP Morgan, Amazon, and Berkshire Hathaway joining forces, CommonSpirit (Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiative) and many more. M&As activity in healthcare is double what it was a decade ago and 71% of respondents expect their organizations’ merger, acquisition, and partnership activity to increase within the next three years. Health systems use M&As as a growth strategy by acquiring the new talent and technologies necessary to remain relevant to customers. M&As can also be a great way for healthcare organizations to quickly fill current business gaps.

When a health system merges with or acquires another, it can change existing patient acquisition and retention processes; while the integration process is never overnight, there are new considerations. Furthermore, M&As often result in the adoption of new regional markets, which existing processes may not be built for.

A significant challenge many health systems face is how to create and maintain a successful patient acquisition and retention strategy in the face of mergers and acquisitions; in other words, how do you balance unifying your strategy at the system level while ensuring regional nuances are maintained?

Let’s examine three proven best practices health systems follow to build successful patient acquisition and retention strategies across new regional markets, whether through M&A activity or organic expansion:

Evaluate Current Processes & Define Where You Want to Be

Adding a new regional market into a health system presents an excellent opportunity to audit your existing marketing processes – namely how you acquire and retain patients – and identify areas for improvement.

Patient acquisition and retention efforts require a range of marketing and business development functionalities, from data collection and analysis to campaign creation, experience management, nurturing, reporting, and more. To appeal to patients’ digital preferences, marketers must have mature processes in place. But not all healthcare marketing departments are where they need to be in terms of data readiness, technology, strategy, and content.

There are four pillars of success when it come healthcare marketing maturity:

• Robust Data
• Lead Management
• Campaign Performance
• Metrics and Measurement

With these elements in place, the marketing department transitions from a cost center (characterized by digital chaos, manual processes, uncoordinated infrastructure, and lack of consistency) into a strategic asset.

Strategic marketing teams have a sophisticated infrastructure with predictable IT service levels and total patient experience management. They’re also closely partnered with data warehouse teams and have the technology platforms in place to automate marketing practices where possible.

So, let’s take lead management as an example. A lot of marketing teams don’t have visibility into where their leads go after they’re brought in. Part of achieving maturity is implementing the right processes and playbooks to ensure marketing leads are fed to the right departments. Here’s what that might look like:

The marketing team puts together a new campaign geared at acquiring new patients:
• Before launch, the marketing team connects with operations to walk them through the process of lead capture and ensure each party understands their accountability.
• They clarify how leads will be captured, what assets are in the market, and how consumers can connect with the healthcare system.
• They then determine what happens after an inquiry is made:
o Marketing is responsible for qualifying that consumer to ensure they’re ready to talk to operations.
o OR the consumer will go straight to operations, and they will handle qualification.
o OR the consumer goes to a call center environment. Marketing and operations teams need to prep agents to handle calls coming from the campaign and ensure they’re directing calls to the right department.

In the wake of a M&As, you must have strategic playbooks in place for lead management, data collection, and performance reporting. Without them, marketers would be putting campaigns blindly into market, with no insight into where consumers go, or ultimately how the campaign impacts the health systems’ bottom line.

Implement a Cloud-Based Enterprise Solution

A unified patient retention strategy, post-acquisition, requires unified data. This means all regional healthcare facilities need to consolidate their marketing data into a single, centralized platform.

To do so, adopt a cloud-based enterprise solution that aggregates data across disparate locations and – most importantly – provides actionable insights through guided top opportunity analysis. Since it’s hosted in the cloud, marketers across the health system can access data and insights easily and continuously input new data as they form relationships with patients. This functionality in particular ensures every marketer has the 360-degree patient views they need to connect with patients on personal levels.

A centralized data hub also helps fill data gaps. Where one region may lack the insights needed to build an effective campaign, other marketing teams fill in the blanks with cloud-hosted data from other in-network hospitals. This strategy helps solve for smarter patient growth and loyalty, communication throughout the care continuum, and demonstrated ROI across the enterprise.

Enable Regional Autonomy with Enterprise Goals in Mind

We know that personalization is key for successful healthcare campaigns, so don’t think that a unified acquisition and retention strategy eliminates individuality – each market is different.

While there are enterprise-wide goals, such as increasing market share or number of patients, it’s important to assign each region their portion of the goal with the autonomy to determine where the biggest opportunities lie based on unique market needs. Each region can then execute on the right campaigns for their market in order to meet system-level goals.

When it comes to messaging, each region should use location-specific details whenever possible, like noting the clinical centers closest to your target audience or listing wellness events in their area. You can ensure consistency across regions with communication templates – core messaging, imagery, and tracking is standardized, but each market can customize with location and service-specific data.

However - reporting is one element that does require standardization across regions. When measuring marketing's ROI, you need to compare apples to apples; if each region has their own reporting technique, it’s impossible to compile into a clear, enterprise-wide picture of acquisition and retention performance. Make sure every region knows what the enterprise’s goals are and which metrics are valuable to showcase progress.

Using a unified reporting structure will ensure that, as an enterprise, you’re accurately understanding marketing performance and use it to optimize campaigns in real-time.

Case Study: Trinity Health

Take Trinity Health’s experience as an example of the success of digital marketing strategy unification; Trinity Health, which encompasses 94 hospitals across 22 states, wanted to streamline how they identify, prioritize, and nurture the highest-opportunity patients and turn their marketing departments into data-driven ROI engines.

The problem was – Trinity has many operating health systems coming together. Each of these health systems requires their own marketing platform, because they have their own data and track their own campaigns. Trinity decided to implement an overarching enterprise data warehouse that fed information into each individual health systems’ platform. With both an enterprise data solution and individual platforms in place, they see both a macro view (performance across all locations) and micro views (how each individual health system is performing).

An added benefit of consolidated data across regions and locations is a single source system where they can share economies of scale, budgets, specific tactics, and content. Trinity can scale and grow faster because they are sharing best practices across all regional systems, instead of approaching them as siloed entities.

One “best practice” example is having a standardized communication template that’s passed to the local market level. These templates are really plug-and-play, so each location can customize based on their brand, demographics and market needs, but there is a level of consistency across regions.

By consolidating their data, employing a cloud-based data management solution, and leveraging scale while being mindful of strong local brands, Trinity Health saw results like a 906 percent increase in digital leads and a 70 percent net growth in campaign ROI year over year.

Final Thoughts

Creating a unified patient acquisition and retention strategy in the wake of an M&A or expansion comes down to this: enabling regional autonomy with system growth in mind.

New and improved processes, strategic playbooks, and unified data all play a critical role in enabling this autonomy. When it comes time for campaign launch, regional marketers should take advantage of digital marketing tactics to both meet patient preferences and precisely target specific regions with personalized messaging. As a bonus, digital campaigns can be quickly pivoted, adjusted, and optimized to ensure each region meets (or better yet, exceeds) their portion of the enterprise-wide goals.

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