In the highly competitive healthcare marketplace, the rules of marketing are changing. Healthcare marketers are turning to new strategies to better engage patients and provide them with relevant, personalized healthcare information, says Rose Glenn, senior vice president of marketing and PR at Henry Ford Health System. Here, Glenn discusses the latest advances in digital media and CRM.
Q: What are the compelling trends in digital media today?
Glenn: To start, marketing roles are changing. Our marketing team members must now be content experts. At Henry Ford Health System, we want our marketing and communications teams to work in a much more integrated and comprehensive fashion to optimize content across all platforms. For example, when we write a news release, we are also thinking about how to treat a quote, make it interesting for a Facebook audience, and determining how we can develop a video to showcase that same information in a compelling way.
Also, consumers are shopping around for their care more than ever before and using sites such as Healthgrades and Yelp to learn about other people’s experiences on physicians and hospitals, so you can’t just rely on your own website to reach and engage people. To position your organization favorably, it is important to develop a comprehensive strategy that takes into account the other credible places online that patients turn to for information. For example, we have a partnership with Healthgrades that enables us to spotlight and expand our online physician profiles in certain ZIP codes. Automated marketing is a new tool in which we are also very interested. We recently piloted automated marketing to brand-new patients to welcome them to the system. We email them information on our wellness program or our walk-in clinics and then base subsequent messages on what they click or don’t click.
Q: How can hospitals set themselves apart in a crowded healthcare environment?
Glenn: To break through the noise and stay on the cutting edge of digital communication, you have to understand consumers better and provide valuable content. We are taking a much more individualized approach when it comes to engaging our different stakeholders. We start with a lot more customer listening through our patient and family advisory councils and via an online patient panel.
Q: How is Henry Ford using CRM to support digital media strategies and tactics?
Glenn: CRM allows us to provide relevant information to the consumer—which is important in today’s world, where it is so easy for someone to mark your email as spam and prevent you from communicating to them again. We have become better at collecting email at the point of care, sending customized information to patients depending on their interests, and measuring what they do with it. This allows us to see if we are meeting our targets.
CRM is used in a number of ways, including helping support people who have certain diseases. For instance, we can send information about ophthalmology and podiatry services to people who have diabetes. And, Henry Ford launched a New Movers campaign this year that introduces someone new to this area to one of our primary care physicians. The campaign has been quite successful. In one quarter we had a 13.4 to 1 ROI and a contribution margin of $6.5 million, which is true income. Having a great CRM partner is a critical piece to the pie because if we don’t show the outcomes, it is a difficult investment to continue to fund.
Q: What are the biggest challenges that healthcare marketers face today?
Glenn: Both the healthcare industry and the marketing discipline are changing rapidly. Keeping pace and making sure you align your resources with the best way to acquire and retain your customers is a big challenge. You have to be on top of understanding and being responsive to customers’ needs. You must also have a clear understanding of what digital marketing can and cannot do to achieve growth.
The call for transparency is another big challenge. People want to know the price of their healthcare and what others think of the physicians who work at our health system. It is important to use the same retail models as TripAdvisor, Yelp, and others for healthcare consumers. Our current website offers patient satisfaction scores on all of our employed doctors. In the future, we plan to use a star rating because the research tells us that is what people prefer.
Q: What is the best way to work with hospital leadership to create effective marketing programs?
Glenn: You have to continually engage them in what you are doing and not just show them the ROI once a year. I am fortunate because I report to the CEO and am part of the senior leadership team. I like to see marketing and communications executives reporting to the CEO because then we can more easily and quickly develop strategies that reflect the system’s priorities. The structure we have at Henry Ford has really allowed for a very smart marketing strategy.