The most effective ways to reach patients from 7 hospital, health system chief marketing officers

The effectiveness of hospital and health system marketing campaigns relies on a balance between communicating via multiple digital channels and crafting messages that inspire and engage with various populations.

Here, seven chief marketing officers from hospital and health systems across the U.S. share the methods they have found to be most effective to reach patients and spark engagement.

Suzanne Hendery, chief marketing officer of Renown Health (Reno, Nev.): The most effective way to reach patients and to have them engage with us is to ask. We ask consumers what matters most to them and how we can add value to their lives. As our world gets busier and more complex, the biggest challenge of hospitals and health systems is to stop and listen. At Renown Health, we take the time to ask, to listen to needs and wants, and use that data and research to develop messages and programs that resonate with our customers and build understanding, preference and lifetime loyalty.

Tanya Andreadis, chief marketing officer of UCLA Health (Los Angeles): We have found email to be very effective. We've sent weekly patient letters with phenomenal open rates of 35 percent to 40 percent and have seen huge spikes in web traffic as a result. Emails have also been effective in getting people to participate in research studies and interact with our chatbot, which went live in March to support patients with many COVID-19 questions. Social media and direct provider communications are also effective.

Valerie Simon, chief marketing and communications officer of 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.

Joan Gubernick, chief marketing officer at Einstein Healthcare Network (Philadelphia): At Einstein, we pride ourselves in not just being in the communities we serve – we are of them. 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.

Sandra Mackey, chief marketing officer at Bon Secours Mercy Health (Cincinnati): We believe in being authentic and leveraging relationships we have established with patients over time via a multitude of digital and telephonic channels. Our messages are disseminated via social media, blogs and via direct-to-patient emails – keeping them informed of our virtual care offerings and our opening of green vs. red clinics to funnel high-risk or symptomatic patients to clinical locations separate and apart from patients needing standard non-COVID-19 related care.

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. Having said that, at Geisinger, the channel that seems to draw the highest engagement levels across all campaigns and most audiences is social media, with YouTube typically yielding the biggest numbers. However, if your target audience skews younger, under 40 years old, you will need to look at channels like Instagram.

Katie Wengert, chief marketing and external relations officer at Broadlawns Medical Center (Des Moines, Iowa): The most effective way to reach patients is applying a multi-faceted approach to marketing communication initiatives. There is not one singular platform that effectively engages all populations, so it is important to incorporate an integrated marketing communications plan that integrates a blend of traditional media (TV, radio, print, transit, billboards and direct mail), online platforms (website, social media and digital placements), community engagement (strategic partnerships, health fairs, events) and earned media coverage. Knowing your audience and trying to discern what health concerns and procedures are most relevant is also integral to creating meaningful messaging that resonates with your targeted patient populations.

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