Virtua's marketing chief explains how a recent campaign drove a 350% increase in mammograms

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Virtua Health's recent marketing campaign aimed at increasing mammogram screenings drove a 350 percent increase in scheduled screenings and more than $750,000 in service line revenue. 

According to Ryan Younger, the Marlton, N.J.-based health system's vice president of marketing, his team understood mammograms are critical for the early detection of breast cancer and a recognized community need in south New Jersey. Consumer research and Virtua's insights panel told the team that while women often manage healthcare for entire households, they often consider their own healthcare needs last.

"We wanted to activate women to take charge of their own health," he said.

Several teams were involved in getting the campaign off the ground. Virtua's strategy team helped ensure the marketing team was aligned on the program's operational priorities, access and capacity focus. The clinical team helped the marketing team determine key demographics and understand the range of services the health system offers. Physicians also developed videos that helped educate consumers about breast health and risks of cancer.

The data science team at SymphonyRM, Virtua's customer relationship management and marketing automation partner, helped build the propensity model to identify people at higher risk for breast cancer who would benefit from screenings.

Mr. Younger said the marketing team was focused on understanding and developing messages that would resonate with different consumer segments and testing the creative strategy. It was working with a budget of about $150,000.

The marketing team facilitated a care journey management workshop to ensure the health system would provide the right services across all touchpoints. The team conducted social listening and ethnographic research to help shape language, and used Virtua's insights panel for input.

"While we outline the vision and concrete ways of getting there, the workshops are very participatory," Mr. Younger said. "Nothing is predefined for the people in the room on the final product for what makes the ideal experience, and that creates buy-in for figuring it out together."

Messaging was disseminated through various channels, from emails to social media to other mass media channels. Mr. Younger said his marketing strategy team leaned into the "power of the nudge," as people often need messages to reach them on multiple channels to cut through the clutter.

"Consumer-oriented language is part of everything we do at Virtua," Mr. Younger said. "We know health is not always first and foremost on people’s minds. We want to reach them where they are, at the moments that matter most."

Mr. Younger said the campaign's engagement rates exceeded industry averages by more than 300 percent, and Virtua has seen an increase in awareness and perception of its cancer and women’s services. He also said that even without waiting the traditional 18 months to measure return on investment, the health system is already seeing a 6-to-1 ratio in terms of patient revenue return compared to the initial investment.

When reflecting on the campaign as a whole, Mr. Younger said his mind goes back to a moment during the care journey management workshop. While Virtua was "patting itself on the back a bit" about the fact that it could get patients a surgical appointment within 48 hours, a patient said, "That wasn’t 48 hours for me. That was 10,000 moments of terror."

"So think about that," Mr. Younger said. "In marketing we are not clinicians, but we can make an impact on how we share these stories from a consumer perspective and how we help the operational and clinical teams think about solutions. It’s rewarding."

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