Smart ideas in health system marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic from 6 execs

Hospital and health system marketing and communications have taken on increased importance during the pandemic.

Marketing leaders are focused on connecting with patients and providing important information and telehealth services to reassure them they'll continue to receive care as COVID-19 cases wax and wane. Here are smart ideas from six health system marketing executives about how to approach ad campaigns today.

Valerie Simon, chief marketing and communications officer at Atlantic Health System (Morristown, N.J.): People don't engage with systems, they engage with people. It is our team members that define our system and the patient experiences that build our brand and earn us trust every day. When reaching out to patients, we find it is most effective when our people share our stories. The stories from our healthcare heroes and the experiences of patients and their loved ones serve as powerful inspiration.

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Joan Gubernick, chief marketing officer at Einstein Healthcare Network (Philadelphia): Our patients are our neighbors and they are our employees, our clinicians and our support staff. We find that an informed employee is our best ambassador. Are we targeting messages directly into the homes, hands and devices of our patients? Of course we are, but we tier the level of engagement opportunity by engaging our employees first. That inspires trust.

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Nick Ragone, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Ascension (St. Louis): Marketing and communications have taken on even greater importance during the COVID pandemic and will likely remain that way well into recovery as we work to reassure our patients and the public about the steps we're taking to keep them safe. We are communicating across all channels — traditional marketing and advertising, public relations, email and personal letters, social and digital engagement, executive visibility, grassroots outreach and video content — to inform patients and the public about our safety precautions, express gratitude for our caregivers and caregivers everywhere, remind consumers not to delay care and let them know what they can expect to experience at an Ascension physician office, hospital, urgent care or other care site. Earning and sustaining consumer trust over the next year or two is going to be critical for every health system, and marketing and communications will play an important role in creating a dialogue and relationship with patients and the public.

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Don Stanziano, chief marketing and communications officer at Geisinger (Danville, Pa.): Any effective marketing effort today is truly omni-channel. Audiences and media channels are so segmented now that any successful marketing campaign must use multiple channels to be effective. At Geisinger, we have found during COVID-19 that a combination of email, direct mail and social media messaging that connects to a landing page or call center works best. If you know the communications preferences of your patients and can tailor the message and channel to them, all the better.

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Ted Keegan, chief marketing officer for University Hospitals health system (Cleveland): In an environment where people are no longer able to meet face-to-face, human connections become more important than ever. One of the steps we have taken is to repurpose our University Hospitals news studio and leverage the talents of our staff to produce high-quality, high-value webinars reaching a wide range of stakeholders, including our UH caregivers, board members, donors, local businesses and nonprofits, first responders, government officials and families.
The interest and participation have been remarkable. We've learned how to reach more people faster with targeted information and interactions, while showcasing the depth of clinical expertise within our health system.

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Dan Regan, vice president of communications, public relations and marketing for Sinai Health System (Chicago): We are focused on strategies that don't just expand our reach, but really enhance our level of engagement with the people we serve. We are expanding our capabilities to utilize varied channels to reach our communities through telehealth appointments, targeted mobile-messaging platforms and useful social media content across varied platforms, including Facebook as well as Twitter, Instagram and others. We have a new website in development that will be a vanguard for our new branding and an improved gateway and resource for our patients and visitors.

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More articles on digital marketing:
Providence, Humana among organizations urging patients to 'stop medical distancing'
Walgreens, Kaiser Permanente among top-viewed healthcare ads during pandemic
The messages hospital marketing execs are using to bring patients back

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