Healthcare marketers' No. 1 job? Deliver a moment of clarity and confidence

It only took Brian Davis 70 seconds to find out why his newborn daughter's feet were turned inward and how to treat her.

It was bilateral clubfoot, a nurse told him. Mr. Davis pulled out his phone and typed the diagnosis into a search bar. The first ad that popped up was for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas. One click eased Mr. Davis' anxiety.

"Texas Scottish Rite Hospital's website featured videos of newborns who looked just like my daughter," Mr. Davis, senior vice president of Scorpion Healthcare, told attendees during a March 29 webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Scorpion Healthcare. Within 70 seconds of visiting the hospital's website, he saw images of those same children walking and laughing and knew where to take his daughter for care.

Mr. Davis, whose firm works with 200-plus hospitals every day to implement competitive online marketing strategies, said his story exemplifies the need for hospital marketers to deliver a moment of clarity and confidence to drive volume growth. That means reaching patients where they are — online.

While tech giants like Apple and Amazon have long excelled at leveraging their online presence to reach new customers, hospitals have largely been unable to achieve similar results. To take full advantage of new online marketing technologies, hospital marketers need to rethink their marketing approach to ensure their organization's online presence is reaching prospective patients.

In a digital marketing landscape, hospitals have been slow to adopt new mindsets and new tactics to drive business growth — even when most organizations make use of digital and mobile marketing channels. "The technology is irrelevant if you don't have new mindsets in place first," Mr. Davis said.

Mr. Davis outlined several mindset shifts that have put "winning" hospitals on the right path toward a campaign that will deliver a moment of clarity and confidence to potential patients. Hospital marketers need to move from "shiny object syndrome" to purchasing technology based on proven results. At the same time, hospital marketers must start leading with their hearts and not their heads.

"Information-rich decisions with lots and lots of variables — those are head decisions. Those are decisions that are made with mind and logic, they're typically right or wrong," Mr. Davis said.  "I've found that instead of going with your head, go with your heart. Our game of healthcare marketing is unlike other industries. We're not dealing with marketing TVs or shoes, we're dealing with issues of the heart."

Leading with the heart requires marketers to defend what best serves customers fraught with uncertainty, not what would best suit a service line. This may require marketers to drop relationships and partnerships that don't support new volume growth initiatives. It may require hiring people to create a marketing playbook with campaigns of scale and repeatability.

"Hospitals aren't taking advantage of low-hanging digital marketing tactics" to drive growth, Mr. Davis said. These include search marketing like Mr. Davis' Scottish Rite example, or listings, Facebook and YouTube.

"One of the worst things we can do is waste money in our healthcare budgets, because every dollar we waste is a dollar that could have gone to potentially connecting with a patient or a father that is in need," Mr. Davis said. "Instead, it's just better to have one person working the whole equation — that's what we do at Scorpion, is help simplify and deploy digital campaigns for our clients."

Definitive measurements and real-time data are crucial for hospital marketers working to solve that equation. Gaining the ability to translate data into numbers hospital teams can adjust and react to is part of the solution, as well as those mindset shifts that set winning hospitals apart.

"Hospitals need to invest time in moving away from the status quo," Mr. Davis said. "They need to differentiate themselves and their organizations by becoming the brand that delivers a moment of clarity and confidence when their customers need it."

Scorpion's portfolio of digital healthcare solutions includes reporting and analytics tools, content management solutions and social marketing and advertising consulting, among others. Scorpion's suite expands May 31, when it launches Project: Redwood, an encompassing digital platform aimed at helping healthcare systems reach volume growth targets.

To view a recording of the webinar, click here.

To learn more about Scorpion Healthcare, click here

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