Smith & Jones shares several trends that will be essential to healthcare marketing in the coming year.
It's a new year, and healthcare marketing is more important than ever. The effects of the ongoing pandemic have created confusion, fear, and burnout amongst patients, consumers, and healthcare workers. The way healthcare is delivered has drastically changed over the past two years. These changes must be addressed by healthcare marketers to create a stronger relationship with its organization's patients and consumers.
Smith & Jones shares seven trends that will be essential to healthcare marketing in the coming year.
1. Address burnout
Burnout is not a new phenomenon for healthcare workers. Prior to the pandemic, staffing shortages and nurse and physician burnout was a concern. This has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put stress on healthcare workers and the healthcare system as a whole.
Smith & Jones suggests that healthcare organizations engage staff and work with them to address and find solutions for their daily frustrations. Taking steps to address burnout will help your workforce and potentially help with retention.
2. Address inequality
Burnout wasn't the only thing brought to the forefront due to the pandemic. A focus on social determinants of health (SDOH) and health equity was another factor. Numerous studies have been released around health disparities and the disparity of racial and ethnic mortality rates from COVID-19.
Smith & Jones suggests to build trust with your organization's underserved communities by adopting programs to meet their needs. It's also important to help educate and support your organization's underserved populations. Utilize partnerships to address issues such as vaccine hesitancy. Recruit a more diverse workforce that reflects the communities your organization serves.
The adoption of telemedicine and virtual care boomed during the pandemic. Previously, telemedicine wasn't widely used, but due to relaxed restrictions, clinical healthcare workers were able to meet with patients via video chat and telephone calls for appointments that didn't require the patient to be seen in-person. The utilization of this technology has promise for a sustained momentum, with CMS expanding overage for telehealth and remote patient monitoring.
Smith & Jones suggests that healthcare organizations should ensure that all of their patients are aware that telemedicine is an option for their care. By utilizing communication methods such as the organization's website, social media, email communications, and targeted ads, healthcare organizations can educate their consumers and patients. Going a step further by making online appointment scheduling, medical records, and lab results are surefire ways to increase the virtual patient experience.
4. Health consumerism
Healthcare has become much more consumer-centric due to competition popping up everywhere. Now, hospitals and health systems aren't only competing with other hospitals and health systems, they're competing with retail companies such as Amazon and retail drugstores, as well as standalone urgent care centers, and on-demand virtual care companies.
Smith & Jones suggests that organizations lean into email marketing strategies and "consumer-centric, data-driven content" to build rapport and a brand relationship with patients and local consumers. Also focusing on increasing the virtual patient experience can help keep patients coming to your organization instead of diverting them to your competition.
5. Address fear and uncertainty
The pandemic has brought a lot of fear and anxiety to the population has a whole. This fear and anxiety can also be translated into patients' feelings about going to a medical organization during a pandemic. During the first patient surge, patients were told to stay home unless it was an emergency. Now, organizations are trying to get patients to come back and catch up on screenings and other preventable measures that were initially put off.
Smith & Jones suggests that healthcare organizations should be upfront about their COVID-19 precautions; advertise safe check-in processes, share airflow improvements and deep clean regimens, and any other steps your organization is taking to ensure patient safety. If you haven't already, healthcare organizations should also "uncomplicate" processes and simplify patient instruction.
6. Create first-party data
First-party data is data that your organization collects on your audience based on behaviors found on your organization's website or app, according to Smith & Jones.
Websites such as Google or phone software such as Android and IOS only share certain information with advertisers and organizations. By collecting the data yourself, healthcare organizations can gain a lot more information on their patients and consumers.
Smith & Jones suggests website registration, reward and loyalty programs, as well as lead generation forms to start collecting that data.
7. Build and maintain trust
It goes without saying, but patient and consumer trust is vital for healthcare organization success. By building and maintaining the trust of your patients and community, patients will come to you above other organizations.
Smith & Jones suggests that now is the time to double-down on implementing ways to develop trust. Create community through empathetic messaging. Support the community through in-person and virtual educational resources. Utilize social media to give consumers a look behind the curtain; share patient stories and the personal side of staff members going above and beyond. Make sure your messaging is staying up to date with essential COVID-19 information and other information patients may be looking for.
Melanie Blackman is a contributing editor for strategy, marketing, and human resources at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.