The metrics healthcare marketers must track, per 8 execs

Hospital marketing teams create campaigns intended to reach thousands of people, so it's important they use the right metrics to measure how those efforts perform. Here, eight marketing executives from health systems across the country share their insight on which metrics they track.

Editor's note: Responses have been edited lightly for clarity and style.

Mark Bohen. Chief Marketing Officer at Mass General Brigham (Boston): It is essential for marketers to track a comprehensive set of metrics that provides a holistic view into the effectiveness of all marketing efforts. For Mass General Brigham, that includes a set of regional and national brand strength metrics; digital and social metrics such as organic rankings for key services, content engagement rates and followers; campaign metrics that analyze channel performance and ROI; and media relations measures including reach, tone and key message penetration.

Jigar Shah. Chief Marketing Officer at Providence (Renton, Wash.): It is important for marketing goals to be 100 percent aligned with the overall goals of the organization’s short-term and long-term goals. As a result, we track our bottom-line numbers: return on marketing investment, brand equity as ranked against our peers, digital product adoption and our caregiver engagement scores. The first three align to measurable organization goals. The fourth goal is our employee (or caregiver) scores, and it helps us understand how the marketing team is connected to our mission, vision and values while finding joy and purpose in their work. 

By using these critical bottom-line metrics, we do three crucial things: 1) It frees the team to focus on the "so what" rather than the "what," as the "what" is apparent. This empowers curious and creative thinking and new solutions. 2) It provides the team with the flexibility to adjust and deliver rapidly during times of disruption. 3) We can focus on the big picture and stay strategic while determining how to execute against the strategy, what levers to pull, what key factors to watch.

Suzanne Bharati Hendery. Chief Marketing and Customer Officer at Renown Health (Reno, Nev.): At Renown, we monitor the health of our marketing efforts to be sure we are investing appropriately in growth and retaining loyal patients/members. As such, it's important to know the number/percentage of new customers (and why and how they were attracted to using you); those you are retaining (why/how); those who left you (why/how), and those who still have no awareness, preference or loyalty in the market (opportunity). These metrics allow us to align our marketing efforts to be most successful.

Lee Landau. Chief Marketing Officer at Jefferson Health (Philadelphia): With budgets tighter and touchpoints broader, gone are the days when top-funnel metrics such as total impressions and click-through rates were enough. Today’s chief marketing officer has to be adept at pulling together not just tried and true marketing metrics but metrics from across the enterprise. This requires looking outside of the department and forging close collaboration with colleagues in other data-rich areas, particularly patient access and patient experience. Only when we step out of our silos and work together to track both soft and hard metrics, along the full spectrum of the patient journey, can we see a true impact. At the end of the day, if you want to know what metrics to focus on, the patient will lead the way.

Matthew Pinzur. Chief Marketing Officer​ at Jackson Health System (Miami): It’s a mistake to assume there’s a one-size-fits-all solution. Every product and service is different. Generally we like to have at least one strong measure about leads acquisition, like number of calls to a referral line, and one good measure of those leads’ quality, which is typically a conversion rate.

Brian Deffaa. Chief Marketing Officer at LifeBridge Health (Baltimore): Marketing metrics need to mimic the marketing funnel prior to service — but it’s certainly not a linear discussion only. Following a visit and important to the overall long-term health of the organization (and certainly more valuable to how the organization delivers care and satisfies consumers) is some measure of "Would I recommend this place to friends and family?" Outside of healthcare, this metric is referred to as the net promoter score and is typically the go-to metric for any business-to-consumer brand and consumer-facing organization. Ultimately, it’s a referendum measurement ("Yes, I’ll buy from you again") and what every business needs to hear in order to be healthy long term.

Beyond the macro level, we track a dozen other metrics that are more important for dissecting areas of opportunity: awareness, image, preference, best doctors, best nurses, best technology, most convenient, etc. These and others help us better understand where we may have perceived feature/benefit gaps vs. competition and where added media or better targeting may help drive a better result.

For more tactical efforts such as our OpenTable-esque online scheduling platform (HelloBrave), we track the volume of consumers engaging with us, as well as how and when. We’ve learned that people like making appointments on Monday and Tuesday, doing so between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (68 percent), but also value the convenience the platform gives them to make appointments after normal business hours (32 percent) and using a mobile phone to do so (40 percent). 

Without robust analytics, we’re flying blind and not driving the consumer’s voice and needs into strategic discussions.

Sheila Champlin. Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at the Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston): At MUSC Health, the most important marketing metrics we track are attributed contribution margin and attributed return on investment.

Susan Milford. Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communication at OSF HealthCare (Peoria, Ill.): As the discipline of marketing has evolved and grown in sophistication, the amount of metrics has grown, too. To achieve positive results in the two overarching marketing objectives of brand loyalty and volume growth, multiple metrics are tracked, which allows for adjustments early in the marketing funnel to achieve conversions. For example, click-through rates is a key metric that indicates an ultimately higher conversion rate and therefore if the CTR metric is showing poor results, adjustment to the digital marketing campaign can be made to grow the CTR percentage and therefore conversions to appointments. 

Yet it is also critical for effective search engine optimization when marketing for your organization. Very often consumers only think about health care services when they need them, and therefore "Dr. Google" is their go-to method. Your trusted healthcare content and service solutions need to be consistently monitored and optimized for SEO both organic as well as identifying where paid search is the best route for being found by your patients.

Key branding metrics include awareness, preference, brand loyalty, net promoter score and ad recall. Key volume metrics for both recruitment and retention of patients include response to marketing call-to-actions, which generate leads and then ideally progress to conversions such as scheduling an appointment or visiting an urgent care center. To track a marketing campaign’s ability to drive volume to services, our customer relationship management system allows for targeted marketing prospects of specific campaigns to be matched to patient encounters from our EHR.

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