The Hidden Truth About Healthcare Personas: How to Create a Patient Profile Example You Can Actually Use

Content Marketing
July 20, 2021

Healthcare personas can be effective tools that align marketing initiatives with the target audience — or a tremendous waste of time. Here’s how to create a patient profile example that ensures you’re reaching the right consumers and driving results.

Considering patient personas as you shape your brand personality and develop service line growth strategies can be a challenging task as a healthcare marketer. At True North Custom, we believe that a thoughtful and highly strategic approach to developing and using a patient profile example to plan, craft and optimize your content and campaigns is critical to making it a worthwhile effort.

There are two primary use cases for identifying personas:

  1. Developing your brand personality, style, tone and voice
  2. Creating messaging strategies for service line growth plans

Both are important to your success as a marketer, and there’s nuance to ensuring the personas you create at the service level align with and complement your brand-level persona. On the flip side, it’s key to make sure service line strategies don’t suffer because of an adherence to a brand-level persona. In this article, we’ll cover considerations to keep top of mind as you consider your brand persona strategy and service line level patient personas.

Developing a persona to guide your branding

Developing a brand personality and style is key to building relationships with key audiences, particularly in highly competitive markets. For many healthcare providers, the female head of the household is a critical individual to reach.

She is often making decisions for both her own family and aging parents. Further, she is likely talking about her healthcare experiences in social circles and online, influencing the perception others have of your brand. Often, this may be a 30-50-year-old female who’s married with two to four children and parents for whom she’s beginning to make healthcare decisions.

Here’s a brief framework on how you might consider identifying your key brand persona and how she impacts your brand strategy:

  • Define your persona based on the demographics of your area. How old is the typical mother? How many children does the average family have? What unique factors about your community impact how she makes healthcare decisions? Is she educated, and is she likely to work?
  • Consider the social lives of your patient profile example. What does your persona’s social life look like? How does she speak with her friends—both in-person and online? What colloquialisms will resonate with her?
  • Determine what drives your persona’s decisions. Is it money? Quality of care? Convenience? Something different?
  • Translate the messages your persona is receiving. How are your primary competitors talking to your persona today? What can you do to make your brand stand out and be more relatable to this key individual?

Once you’ve considered this and defined your persona, give her a name. Many healthcare organizations even assign an image to a patient profile example. In doing so, you bring her to life and drive alignment across your team to consider her in your work moving forward.

Developing patient persona examples for service lines

A critical failure in service line campaigns can often be a misalignment between your messaging strategies and the target audience they’re intended to reach. By taking your brand persona and making adjustments to your tone, style and voice to fit a unique service line level patient persona, you’ll be connecting with consumers with messaging designed specifically to resonate with them. Mindfulness about how you execute on this work can lead to dramatic improvements in ad engagement, conversion rates, lead volume, cost per lead and overall ROI.

Here are a number of patient profile examples and tips for defining them that you might consider as you optimize existing and launch new service line campaigns:

Joint Replacement

Orthopedics, and joint replacement in particular, is a key service line priority for many health systems. The competition for these volumes, high degree of consumer choice and lengthy decision-making journey should all factor into how you decide who you’re targeting.

Here are a few notable factors about joint replacement to consider when defining your service line’s patient profile example:

  • The typical joint replacement candidate is 60-80 years old. Most are women, but the procedure is very common in men as well.
  • Patients are driven by a desire to alleviate pain and get back to the activities they love. This may be golfing, playing with grandchildren, walking and other forms of exercise.
  • We find that consumers care about advanced technology in joint replacement. However, they care more about choosing a great provider and feeling confident about pre- and post- operative care.
  • Many consumers consider the procedure for as much as 10 years before moving forward. Providing helpful information about readiness for joint replacement, recovery times and the procedure itself will support patients as they work through their options.

OB/GYN

In general, your women’s health strategies will align with your brand persona. As you build out your campaign plans, you’ll find that specific services you promote need to be tuned for engagement from a very focused audience. Here are a few examples:

  • Aging women. As women near menopause (average age is 51, according to Mayo Clinic), their healthcare concerns begin to change. They are worried about hormone-related changes due to menopause itself, bone density and osteoporosis, and maintaining a vibrant life for their children and grandchildren.
  • Pregnant women, or those hoping to become pregnant. Women who are ready to begin their families are a key demographic for a health system, as capturing their loyalty early in their journey drives not only birth volumes, but pediatric loyalty and specialty care revenue from the entire family for years to come. Helping women through the journey from fertility through postnatal care, even if not every touch point is a financial priority for you, will go a long way in building patient loyalty. The average age for a first-time mother in the U.S. today is 26-years-old. They typically care about having their voice heard by their provider, convenient access to services and being guided through their health care journey with compassion, clear guidance and direct communication. With the average age of a first time birth trending upwards, addressing concerns of high risk pregnancies is key, too.
  • General women’s health. There are a number of reasons to focus on women who are not yet ready to start a family, raising a family but not quite at menopause, and those who have gone through menopause but are otherwise healthy. These women care about having easy access to routine screenings, having their day-to-day healthcare questions and concerns addressed quickly, and trusting that their provider will deliver high-quality care with every interaction.

Segmenting your women’s health marketing strategies by audience is important and doesn’t need to mean a deviation from your brand level tone, voice and style. Each piece of content or segment of your paid campaign will be reaching a specific consumer, and the messaging and CTA should be aligned with that individual’s needs in a way that complements and supports who you are as a brand.

Mammograms

Mammograms are often a subset of women’s health and imaging priorities for a health system are not major revenue drivers. Capturing screening volumes both builds a relationship with a key healthcare decision-maker and potentially captures cancer volumes at the earliest possible stage.

Many health systems keep mammogram campaigns running throughout the year, with a ramp-up for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. This service has a very specific patient profile example:

  • Age. Women ages 40-44 should have the choice to start annual mammograms, and women ages 45-54 should have an annual mammogram, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • Demand. Mammograms are more often than not a very transactional service to consume, and like with primary care, urgent care and others that fit that description, consumers demand convenience.
  • Experience. Patients care about having a comfortable and compassionate experience, and receiving clear and detailed follow up communication about their results.

The way you approach the development of patient personas for mammograms can be mirrored for other consumer choice-driven cancer screenings like colonoscopy, lung CT and more.

Putting healthcare personas into practice

Chances are, you’re already using healthcare personas in your marketing strategy, even if you haven’t formally named your brand persona or considered it persona development in your service line marketing efforts. As you optimize campaigns and launch new service line growth efforts, make it a point to think strategically about who specifically you’re hoping to reach with a tactic to make sure you’re developing messaging that will resonate based on the individual’s healthcare goals and demographics.

It’s a worthwhile effort, particularly in today’s environment of intense competition for commercial volumes across the country.