Healthcare marketing execs share steps you can take right now to become more consumer-focused in your marketing strategies.
The consumer is king according to healthcare marketing executives.
At the beginning of the year, HealthLeaders interviewed numerous healthcare marketing executives about what their top focus will be this year. While the answers vary, the consumer remains at the center of all their marketing strategies.
Coming up on March 22, we'll continue the conversation during the HealthLeaders Marketing and Consumer Experience NOW Summit, which will feature panel discussions on healthcare marketing and the consumer experience. You can sign up to attend the free virtual event here.
HealthLeaders asked the NOW Summit panelists: what is one action step healthcare organizations can take right now to be more consumer-focused?
Answers have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
Improve the customer experience as an enterprise-wide initiative
"There must be an organization-wide understanding that studying and improving the customer experience is not just marketing's job. I am fortunate because the entire City of Hope organization understands that the cancer journey is a highly personalized experience. Although the goal is survivorship, there are many cancer types and stages of the disease, and everyone coming to us for care is provided with an individualized approach.
As a marketer, my job is to ensure this patient-centric focus is reflected in our brand and experienced by everyone, from those just learning about our organization to the grateful patients who are our most effective spokespeople and advocates. With everyone at City of Hope so focused on the patient, we have built a strong brand and ensured that consumers are confident they are choosing services that will meet their needs."
— Nisha Morris, VP of marketing and communications, City of Hope Orange County
Meet your consumers where they are
"Healthcare needs to understand where consumers are in a post-Covid world. The world has changed irreversibly since 2019, and consumers have also changed. In a post-Covid world, consumers are more aware than ever of the fragility of health but also the power of health. It fuels our passions, our loves, our careers, and our relationships. Do health systems understand their customers' mindset? Are they prepared to redefine the healthcare journey?"
— Ramon Soto, SVP, chief marketing and communications officer, Northwell Health
Be intentional when communicating with your consumers
"One thing we know about healthcare is that the language surrounding it is complex, confusing, and sometimes jarring. With issues from literacy to empathy, the words and phrases we use in health care are often at odds with our healing mission. They may lack humanity, hope, and the personal connection that we know are beneficial to individuals seeking our care. We can create a movement within our organizations to humanize our language, remove jargon, acronyms, and insensitive phrases, and opt for relationship-building words. Words have real power and we, too, have the power to use them intentionally, responsibly, and for the higher purpose of creating connection and understanding.”
— Chrisie Scott, SVP, chief marketing officer, Virtua Health
Listen to your consumers
“The first step towards building a consumer-focused healthcare organization is building out a robust consumer insight capability. Only by tapping directly into a representative sample of consumers can you improve your understanding of the consumer experience priorities that will drive decision making. While there are often keen insights and important details that can be gained from consulting the various stakeholders inside our industry, marketers must lean into the learnings gained by hearing directly from average consumers - their intended audiences.”
— Eric Steinberger, chief marketing officer, Atlantic Health System
Be more accessible
"Providing more and more access points to care is important to consumers as they navigate their care. Whether it be physical, online, or through marketing portals, creating access is key."
— Nick Ragone, EVP of Marketing, Ascension
Editor's note: This story was updated on March 9, 2023.
Melanie Blackman is a contributing editor for strategy, marketing, and human resources at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.