The way healthcare organizations communicate with non-consumer audiences is critical to brand and revenue performance. Here’s how you can engage physicians, employers and other business-to-business stakeholders to support effective rebound and recovery strategies.
The pandemic’s impact on healthcare consumer behavior is well documented. New data is released nearly every day on how COVID-19 is accelerating telemedicine and other trends that were underway before the crisis. For non-consumer audiences, there is significantly less coverage despite the pivotal roles that healthcare providers, payers and other community partners play in driving referrals and brand reputation.
These audiences are experiencing their own challenges that need to be addressed as part of a post-COVID-19 marketing strategy. For example:
Physicians are both valued as #HealthcareHeroes and stressed at extraordinarily high levels.
Employers and other community leaders are juggling competing priorities of safety, financial stability and productivity.
Hospitals and health systems are shifting into recovery mode and engaging donors in efforts to address resource and financial deficits.
If marketing to one of these audiences is within your purview, there is a tremendous opportunity to build and deepen connections that can have a significant influence on your brand reputation and financial health.
Whether your role involves physician relations, business development or some other business-to-business function, you’re primarily responsible for managing relationships with people—and all audiences are ultimately healthcare consumers, who consider hospitals one of the most trusted sources of COVID-19 information.
To support these efforts, we’ve compiled a few recommendations for engagement.
Engagement Strategies for All Non-Consumer Audiences
First, acknowledge the uncertainty that everyone is experiencing. Any outreach that does not recognize the anxiety, fears and feelings of isolation could come across as tone deaf.
It’s also critical to create alignment on your brand’s identity, voice and communication strategy as you shift from response to rebound and recovery strategies.
As part of this transition, marketing and communication leaders can help ensure a safe, but quick, return to elective volumes and in-person care by engaging candidates and promoting the appropriate access point.
Finally, consider ways to shift from the ubiquitous COVID-19 narratives like #HealthcareHeroes and #InThisTogether to messaging that highlights your unique capabilities and differentiates your brand.
Engagement Strategies for Physicians
Taking care of those who take care of patients is a top priority for all healthcare organizations. To reflect this effort in your physician outreach, share resources that will mitigate stress and support mental health for caregivers. This can include tools to prevent/address burnout like the following from the American Hospital Association:
To facilitate an effective patient/provider interaction, provide support that enables effective utilization of telehealth and other new advancements that come out throughout the crisis. Effective communication is key to adoption of new technology, both for consumers and providers. Arm physicians with talking points on policy changes, frequently asked questions and other resources they need to effectively connect with patients on the current state and what’s next.
During this process, be transparent with providers about what the future looks like if a decline in volumes continues, and communicate those reports often. This includes clear directives about your return to in-person care so providers understand factors under consideration and key procedures to follow. Ensure providers fully understand both what you’re doing for them and what’s expected from them.
And of course, share stories of your #HealthcareHeroes! Everyone needs some uplifting content, doctors included. Find creative ways to spotlight physicians and other front-line staff going above and beyond for their patients and peers.
- Email outreach with daily/weekly updates on COVID-19 impacts, policy changes and other resources
- Physician content hub (like this example from Vanderbilt Health)
- Leadership huddles and virtual town hall meetings
- Social media posts celebrating caregivers
- 1:1 conversations and support
Engagement Strategies for B2B Marketers
Employers and other community leaders play a key role in the rebuilding strategy. To ensure they’re well informed and support their efforts to drive down costs, start by helping your partners or clients understand and promote the telehealth solutions available to their employees. Also, find ways to continue screenings, smoking cessation programs and other wellness initiatives that can prevent costly hospitalizations.
Be transparent with your partners, and arm them with information to share with employees about COVID-19 testing procedures and availability. When you resume in person care/elective volumes, share with your partners/clients how you’ll be prioritizing case volume and the demand for services. Depending on the scope of your relationship, share content on disease prevention, stress management and other topics designed to drive down costs on health plans and keep the workforce healthy.
- Email updates with local COVID-19 statistics, state return-to-work guidelines and other resources
- Webinars with “how-to” instructions on telemedicine and other non-traditional access points
- Content and collateral on preventing illness/injury and ensuring a healthy workplace
- 1:1 conversations with employers and community leaders
Engagement Strategies for Donors
During a crisis, donors want to hear from reliable sources like hospitals on what is happening and how they can help. The key is to be specific by focusing on what you need and how donor support will be used, particularly when directly related to COVID-19 needs.
For non-monetary gifts, help people understand what you can accept, where to deliver or ship masks and other items, who to contact with questions and other directives that can avoid donor confusion. If a fundraising gala, golf tournament or other foundation event has been postponed due to the pandemic, reach out to those who have signed up with an offer to support investments in telemedicine and other new technologies that will advance patient care.
And again, share your stories of the front-line staff going above and beyond to take care of patients. This will create an emotional connection that illustrates where the money is going and the lives being impacted.
Looking ahead, be transparent with major donors on any changes to strategic growth plans so they’re well informed and feel invested in the organization’s future.
- Print materials on what/where/how to give
- Social media posts celebrating donor impact
- Hospital website content tailored to current and prospective donors
- Email outreach to your donor list featuring video messages from your CEO/leadership
- 1:1 conversations with donors