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Involve Physicians in Campaign Strategy

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, September 22, 2010

Healthcare marketers can't do their jobs without physicians. At many organizations, that means featuring physicians in video testimonials and in print ads that feature a cheery group of clinicians in brightly colored scrubs. But some hospitals are beginning to realize the value of involving service line directors and other doctors in the strategic marketing planning process.

Marketers at a New Jersey hospital were about to develop a strategic plan for the hospital's orthopedic service line and expected a portion of the effort would focus on spine procedures. But that was before they talked to an orthopedic surgeon.

"It was great to be able to talk to the surgeon because his feedback was that more spine surgery is happening in ambulatory and outpatient settings, which financially changes the dynamic of the hospital for spine procedures," says Gabrielle DeTora, healthcare marketing consultant. "We otherwise might have originally planned to promote spine procedures, but this insight allowed us to set the right plan for that institution."

Healthcare marketers have long been going to physicians for advice for marketing service lines and clinical technology, increasingly marketers see physicians as valuable partners in the strategic planning process.

"Physician input is extremely important at Cooper," says Jill Lawlor, vice president of marketing and community outreach for Cooper University Hospital in Camden, NJ. "We have marketing managers for all major service lines and these managers communicate with the chiefs and division heads on a daily basis. We hold bimonthly meetings with all managers and administrative directors from these service lines so that all marketing is integrated."

DeTora worked with Lawlor and the Cooper marketing team earlier this year on a strategic marketing plan for several service lines, with a focus on increasing physician referrals. Physician input is especially important when creating direct-to-physician marketing because they, of course, understand the pain points and desires of target audience.

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