With delivery models changing rapidly, healthcare organizations that regularly ask questions about their consumer base can adapt their messages—and, more importantly, how those messages are delivered—to better engage patients, prospective patients, and clinicians along their healthcare journeys.
Nontraditional partnerships and providers are becoming the norm inthe world of healthcare, as shown by the recent announcement that CVS Health will buy health insurer Aetna to expand medical offerings at pharmacies and walk-in clinics. Other organizations are following suit, with UnitedHealth announcing its plan to purchase DaVita’s primary and urgent care services. These new partnerships and provider options present consumers with more opportunities to receive care outside of a doctor’s office or hospital.
As consumer preferences and the healthcare market continue to change, it’s imperative for healthcare organizations to take an introspective look at their brand and revenue growth strategies by asking three important questions.
1. Who is your ideal audience?
The healthcare industry is shifting towards consumer-driven and value-based purchasing models, so it makes sense that knowing your customer base inside and out is the first step to improving your marketing strategy. As care models change and develop, consumers will look for guidance in traversing the healthcare system while seeking out the most convenient and cost-effective options for their care. It's imperative to know your best customers — including their characteristics, interests and motivations — and meet them where they are on the healthcare decision journey.
Matching up your service lines and how they’re delivered with patients’ needs and expectations can help ensure that your consumers have access to the care they’re looking for in a setting and at a time that works best for them. Understanding your consumers’ insurance networks and the providers within those networks can help you target the right patients and physicians for your messaging.
2. How are you reaching your audience?
Once you know your audience, learning what communication channels they prefer can help ensure that your message is being seen and heard in a way that suits the recipient. Knowing how your target audience seeks information and consumes content is vital to reaching them directly. Oftentimes, this can mean communicating in a more personal fashion.
Target different segments of your audience in ways that speak to their unique lifestyles, and personalities. Consider whether your message has a greater chance of being seen as an ad, an email, or a physical piece. Your organization may benefit from beginning nurturing campaigns early to keep your services top of mind when it comes time for a consumer to make a healthcare decision.
Remember that both patient and physician groups are comprised of individuals, not just metrics and response rates. A patient who is considering hip replacement may be just as adept with smartphones and social media as a millennial searching for their first primary care physician.
3. Is your approach working?
Depending on your market, the metrics that you and your organization are interested in may be volume-based, value-based, or a mix of the two. Whatever metrics matter to your organization’s leadership, it’s important to measure the success of your marketing campaigns and adjust accordingly.
Anticipating changes in the market can also help you send the right message at the right time or make necessary changes in your service lines. For example, the rise of walk-in clinics and the importance of convenience to the marketplace may change the way that your organization offers primary care. Keep an eye on trends in other industries, such as retail or dining, where brick and mortar stores and dine-in restaurants have given way to online shopping and delivery services.
More than likely, your organization doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to better connect with consumers. By asking these critical questions and constantly refining your approach to align with your best customers, you'll be able to differentiate your brand and position your healthcare organization as the irresistable provider of choice.
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