3 Healthcare Predictions for a Post-Pandemic World

What will the healthcare landscape look like after the pandemic — and what are you doing now to prepare?

There’s no short­age of con­tent address­ing the cur­rent real­i­ties of the pan­dem­ic. In fact, more than 41,000 arti­cles were writ­ten about COVID-19 in just the first 3 months of 2020. There is uncer­tain­ty around the tim­ing of a vac­cine, the toll on the econ­o­my and oth­er crit­i­cal issues. How­ev­er, the par­a­digm shifts in how health­care is deliv­ered, financed and pro­mot­ed that were at the tip­ping point pri­or to the pan­dem­ic are now becom­ing a base­line for the future.

Here are three health­care pre­dic­tions that could last long after we’ve found a cure for COVID-19.

The Prediction: Driving profitable revenue will be the C‑suite’s top priority.

Even before COVID, the trends toward con­sumerism and dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion were dri­ving a shift from inpa­tient to high­er-mar­gin out­pa­tient pro­ce­dures. This “no more heads in beds” approach has been gain­ing momen­tum for years and is now accel­er­at­ing dai­ly with lack of phys­i­cal access to physi­cians dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. The result will be what Jef­fer­son Health CEO Dr. Stephen Klasko calls a “health­care with no address” envi­ron­ment.

At the same time, rev­enue growth has become the top pri­or­i­ty for hos­pi­tal and health sys­tem CEOs—and the pan­dem­ic is only mag­ni­fy­ing that man­date. The cost of COVID-relat­ed hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and the sub­se­quent impact on elec­tive pro­ce­dures and oth­er high-val­ue ser­vices is fuel­ing an urgency to dri­ve rev­enue, along with cre­at­ing a capac­i­ty vac­u­um that health­care orga­ni­za­tions will be laser-focused on fill­ing when the pan­dem­ic dissipates.

Accord­ing to William Winken­werder, MD, the for­mer CEO of a large health sys­tem who also served as Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense for Health Affairs, hos­pi­tals need to take more non-COVID patients—as they can’t expect politi­cians to solve the prob­lem. “The hard real­i­ty is that no amount of finan­cial aid from Wash­ing­ton or increased lines of cred­it can reverse the grow­ing loss­es across our entire health­care sys­tem. The only answer is for the health­care sys­tem to cure itself.” 

The Impli­ca­tion: As pay­ment for telemed­i­cine and oth­er non-tra­di­tion­al chan­nels expands, the health­care orga­ni­za­tions who embrace these con­sumer-cen­tric mod­els and build a pipeline for pri­or­i­ty ser­vice lines will emerge as win­ners in the post-COVID world.

The Prediction: Healthcare will be delivered from virtually everywhere.

Thanks to Ama­zon, Uber and oth­er glob­al brands, the mod­ern con­sumer expects an easy, ele­gant and con­ve­nient expe­ri­ence at every stage of the deci­sion cycle. This is true from research­ing con­di­tions and eval­u­at­ing treat­ment options to patient encoun­ters and loyalty.

In addi­tion, these inter­ac­tions are increas­ing­ly hap­pen­ing from the com­fort of home as con­sumers con­duct near­ly all activ­i­ties of mod­ern life—from shop­ping and work­ing to edu­cat­ing children—without hav­ing to go anywhere.

These stan­dards set by retail providers and e‑commerce plat­forms are hav­ing impli­ca­tions across all indus­tries and health­care is no excep­tion. This is clear­ly evi­denced by the growth in health­care-relat­ed search queries, demand for online health con­tent and adop­tion of tools like online appoint­ment sched­ul­ing and telehealth.

The Impli­ca­tion: Fueled by social dis­tanc­ing efforts due to COVID-19, con­sumers seek­ing a retail-esque health­care expe­ri­ence beyond the tra­di­tion­al hos­pi­tal or physi­cian prac­tice set­ting will progress until today’s norms could seem anti­quat­ed in the near future. In fact, Dr Klasko sug­gests that, “We should nev­er again use the word ‘tele­health’ just as we don’t use the word ‘tele­bank­ing.’ It’s just that 90% of bank­ing went from the bank to the home. Much the same will hap­pen in healthcare.”

The Prediction: The role of caregiver will be redefined.

Physi­cian burnout and nurs­ing short­ages were crit­i­cal issues before the pan­dem­ic, and the stress asso­ci­at­ed with the surge in COVID-19 cases—overcrowded hos­pi­tals, lim­it­ed resources and their own threat of infection—has only exac­er­bat­ed those concerns.

The strate­gies deployed by health­care providers and gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tors to address the cri­sis have been tremen­dous, including.

  • Redi­rect­ing physi­cians and nurs­es to care for COVID-19 patients
  • Allow­ing nurse prac­ti­tion­ers, physi­cian assis­tants and oth­ers to per­form expand­ed func­tions with­out physi­cian supervision
  • Offer­ing fourth-year med­ical stu­dents the oppor­tu­ni­ty to grad­u­ate ear­ly and jump into action
  • Enabling non-clin­i­cal staff to triage patients

Many of these efforts to expand capac­i­ty are like­ly to remain in place as health­care lead­ers audit their plans for an unex­pect­ed spike in patient vol­umes. When com­bined with the poten­tial use cas­es for arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (Dr. Klasko even sug­gests that “Any doc­tor that can be replaced by a com­put­er should be”), it’s clear health­care providers of the future could look a lot dif­fer­ent than the ones car­ing for patients today.

The Impli­ca­tion: Busi­ness devel­op­ment lead­ers that have focused out­reach and refer­ral devel­op­ment strate­gies on physi­cians will need to recon­sid­er their audi­ence and mes­sag­ing strate­gies. In addi­tion, mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions lead­ers will be count­ed on to sup­port recruit­ing, onboard­ing and train­ing for new clin­i­cal peers that ensure a sat­is­fac­to­ry patient expe­ri­ence and max­i­mum reimbursement.

Healthcare Predictions: Looking Ahead

Along with these themes, anoth­er ves­tige of COVID-19 will be a greater appre­ci­a­tion for the health­care providers who are putting them­selves in harm’s way. We believe health­care mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­fes­sion­als have also been instru­men­tal in edu­cat­ing their com­mu­ni­ties, cel­e­brat­ing their col­leagues and flat­ten­ing the infec­tion curve.

And since the only con­stant in health care is change, those who can inform strat­e­gy, com­mu­ni­cate effec­tive­ly and engage customers—including con­sumers, patients, providers and oth­er constituents—will con­tin­ue to be piv­otal as we pre­pare for the next cri­sis. That’s one of the most impor­tant health­care pre­dic­tions out of the group.

As this recent HBR arti­cle sug­gests, “it is crit­i­cal to start con­sid­er­ing how the lessons of this cri­sis can be cap­tured not only to make the next cri­sis eas­i­er to man­age but also to ensure that the ongo­ing oper­a­tion of our health­care sys­tem is improved in a fun­da­men­tal manner.”

Let’s Plan Your Post-COVID-19 Strategy

Learn how we’re guid­ing health­care clients to engage their com­mu­ni­ties and build a pipeline for high val­ue ser­vice lines.

The Evolution of Digital Advertising

In a recent episode of the Touch Point podcast, True North Digital Senior Marketing Specialist Michael Robideau advises hospitals and healthcare systems on ways to optimize their digital advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Michael Robideau, Senior Digital Marketing SpecialistWith more than 10 years expe­ri­ence in digital/search mar­ket­ing, includ­ing stints with e‑commerce and retail brands as well as serv­ing as dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist for Fairview Health Ser­vices, Michael under­stands the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing land­scape in health care as well as anyone.

He recent­ly appeared on the Touch Point pod­cast to share expert per­spec­tive on how health­care mar­keters can fos­ter brand loy­al­ty and build a pipeline for high-val­ue ser­vice lines dur­ing the crisis.

Lis­ten to the full episode and get the high­lights from Michael’s inter­view below.

On Digital Marketing Shifts during COVID

Some mar­keters have this idea that they don’t want to offend peo­ple by adver­tis­ing online, but there are oth­er ways health­care orga­ni­za­tions can engage con­sumers and help them through the cri­sis. The health sys­tems we’re work­ing with are indus­try lead­ers because they real­ize every­one is des­per­ate for real, accu­rate infor­ma­tion right now—and we’re help­ing them meet that demand.

If you look at search and social data, every­body wants to know about the coro­n­avirus and they need con­tent that helps them under­stand what’s real­ly going on. Most impor­tant­ly, they’re ask­ing the ques­tion: “How can I help take care of myself?” Hos­pi­tal and health sys­tems are the most trust­ed sources of that information.

For a while, Google was block­ing legit­i­mate com­pa­nies try­ing to put out valu­able infor­ma­tion or try­ing to get peo­ple to make a shift and go to online health­care plat­forms. You can’t search any­thing relat­ed to COVID-19 or coro­n­avirus with­out Google basi­cal­ly own­ing those top spots in search rank­ings as they rewrote their plat­form strict­ly for this pan­dem­ic. They’ve tak­en con­trol over search results so it becomes even more impor­tant to find dif­fer­ent ways to get your con­tent out there.

Dur­ing this cri­sis, we have to adjust our think­ing on dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing and ask our­selves: What is a con­ver­sion right now? A con­ver­sion is not a new patient while access is lim­it­ed, but it might be look­ing at how much con­tent are they con­sum­ing. How much are they view­ing or down­load­ing? How much are they respond­ing? We’re build­ing a pool for when this turns back on. There’s going to be a flood­gate and we have to be ready to open it.

These are chal­leng­ing times, with Google claim­ing the major­i­ty of search traf­fic and delays in launch­ing cam­paigns on Face­book as their employ­ees are work­ing home like every­one else. How­ev­er, that does­n’t mean we can’t start fill­ing the fun­nel while the costs are down.

It’s a down mar­ket, so we can take the approach of look­ing at dif­fer­ent goals and dif­fer­ent tac­tics, where the con­ver­sion might be cap­tur­ing search vol­ume for phras­es like, “Do you offer this ser­vice?” or “What type of doc­tors do you offer?” We’re look­ing at that high­er lev­el, top-of-the-fun­nel con­ver­sion now.

On Brand Strategies during COVID

You have to ask your­self: Is dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing stop­ping? Is my com­peti­tor stop­ping? No, they’re not. Are they able to gain patients like you? No, but they’re not stop­ping adver­tis­ing. They’re not stop­ping build­ing their brand and that’s the most impor­tant thing. By putting that top-of-the-fun­nel infor­ma­tion out there, it’s almost like a piv­ot to the new par­a­digm of patient acqui­si­tion. We’re build­ing pos­i­tive impres­sions and get­ting them to remem­ber us so that when the cri­sis is over, they choose us for their care.

Once our cam­paigns are live and we review the data, it’s clear that con­sumers are engag­ing with health­care con­tent. You’re see­ing impres­sions go up much high­er than they typ­i­cal­ly would because there’s so much demand. We, as health­care mar­keters, have a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to start build­ing more brand loy­al­ty dur­ing this crisis.

Most peo­ple don’t know their pri­ma­ry care doc­tor anymore—if they even have a pri­ma­ry care doc­tor (they might have a facil­i­ty or a clin­ic they turn to when seek­ing care). That’s where we can start build­ing trust and dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing our health­care brands.

On Building a Pipeline for Priority Services

A per­son­al sto­ry: My wife is home and it’s been a clean­ing-the-house type of moment for both of us. So we said, let’s look at get­ting some­one out to price get­ting some trees tak­en down. Let’s get peo­ple out to look at replac­ing the garage door. Like us, peo­ple have more time than ever to be plan­ning and prepar­ing to make pur­chas­es for things they need.

At some point soon, we’re going to get back to nor­mal and there’s going to be a flood­gate of health­care orga­ni­za­tions look­ing to refill their fun­nel. Every­one of us will be re-invest­ing imme­di­ate­ly when we can, so you’re going to see a sharp increase in costs for those who haven’t been con­sis­tent. Google and Face­book like those adver­tis­ers that have stayed true to them. When you have a cam­paign that runs con­sis­tent­ly, it builds cred­i­bil­i­ty and gives you a com­pet­i­tive advantage.

So even in these dark times, if we’re tak­ing those cam­paigns and just kind of shift­ing what we’re doing with them and keep run­ning, Google loves us. It gives us that abil­i­ty to stay ahead of the curve.

On Effective Content

I’m see­ing a lot of neg­a­tiv­i­ty in the news and online, but there are many ways that we can actu­al­ly start to find joy in this cri­sis. There are so many incred­i­ble sto­ries with­in health care and we can start adver­tis­ing around that. This could sim­ply be inform­ing the com­mu­ni­ty of what’s going on and how to stay safe. It’s about expand­ing focus from sole­ly bot­tom-of-the-fun­nel con­ver­sions to build­ing brand aware­ness and affin­i­ty at the top-of-the-fun­nel. In some ways, we’re hit­ting the reset but­ton on adver­tis­ing right now. There are so many new oppor­tu­ni­ties to edu­cate, inform and teach our audi­ences who are hun­gry for information.

For exam­ple, elec­tive surg­eries are post­poned in many areas—but just because we can’t do it does­n’t mean peo­ple aren’t search­ing for it. I’ve been walk­ing on a dai­ly basis with my fam­i­ly and my knee is start­ing to kill me. Am I going to be able to get my knee tak­en care of right away? No, but that does­n’t mean I’m not try­ing to fig­ure out, in two months, where I am going to go and what I am going to do.

You’re see­ing these shifts in dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing. Instead of talk­ing about com­ing in for an appoint­ment, your mes­sag­ing can answer ques­tions like, “How do I take care of myself until I’m ready to come in?” It’s crit­i­cal to build that brand knowl­edge now so you’re the best choice for treat­ment when the time is right.

On the Future of Digital Advertising in Health Care

I think one of the biggest shifts is the idea of tele­health and dig­i­tal health care. The vir­tu­al care mar­ket has been grow­ing slow­ly for a long time—and now it’s explod­ing. There were a lot of ques­tions around how it works. While in-per­son vis­its have been pre­ferred, every­body’s now being forced to use tele­health. I think you’re going to find that once peo­ple get a taste for it and find out how sim­ple it is, that’s going to become the new norm.

For health­care orga­ni­za­tions, pro­vid­ing that edu­ca­tion is crit­i­cal. It’s a new way to build rela­tion­ships with our brands and fill the fun­nels for pri­or­i­ty ser­vice lines.

Have Digital Marketing Questions?

Let’s con­nect around your dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy and how we can help.

How to Drive Revenue Growth After COVID-19

The foreseeable future could make or break the financial outlook for hospitals and health systems. 

For mar­keters, this means it’s more crit­i­cal than ever to focus on ini­tia­tives that cap­i­tal­ize on pent-up demand, cap­ture com­mer­cial vol­umes and dri­ve rev­enue growth.

A recent Mod­ern Health­care arti­cle encour­ages hos­pi­tals to start plan­ning now for what fol­lows, and the authors believe “orga­ni­za­tions that start now to pre­pare” are poised to “be bet­ter posi­tioned” in the post-COVID-19 future.

Along with increas­ing surge capac­i­ty in the ICU and oper­a­tional­iz­ing alter­na­tive care deliv­ery chan­nels like tele­health, mar­ket lead­ers are aggres­sive­ly build­ing a pipeline of can­di­dates for pri­ma­ry care, elec­tive pro­ce­dures and oth­er pri­or­i­ty services.

As a health­care mar­keter, it’s imper­a­tive to bal­ance COVID-19 com­mu­ni­ca­tions with ini­tia­tives designed to cap­ture the loy­al­ty of the most valu­able patients and prospects for pri­or­i­ty ser­vices. Here are strate­gies you can imple­ment now to get ahead of the curve and dri­ve growth for spe­cif­ic areas of care.

Primary Care

The sit­u­a­tion: With a short deci­sion cycle and myr­i­ad options to choose from (includ­ing urgent care providers and new retail entrants), mar­ket­ing pri­ma­ry care requires a strate­gic, con­sumer-cen­tric approach to deliv­er­ing val­ue and dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing your brand.

The strat­e­gy: Pri­ma­ry care can­di­dates are mak­ing deci­sions based on ease of access to care and brand recog­ni­tion. Con­tent mar­ket­ing is a key strat­e­gy for build­ing affin­i­ty by ensur­ing your infor­ma­tion is dis­cov­er­able and your brand top of mind at any moment of need. By deliv­er­ing a steady flow of use­ful con­tent on crit­i­cal top­ics of inter­est, you become a trust­ed advi­sor and the provider of choice when the time comes to estab­lish what can become a life-long relationship.

Women & Baby 

The sit­u­a­tion: With height­ened con­cerns around keep­ing babies healthy in the midst of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and beyond, women are increas­ing­ly mak­ing deci­sions based on con­ve­nience, access and com­fort of providers and facil­i­ties, along with val­ue sig­nals like qual­i­ty of birthing suites and oth­er amenities.

The strat­e­gy: As a patient con­sid­ers her choice of OB/GYN ser­vices, build­ing a rela­tion­ship dur­ing the crit­i­cal, and often short, win­dow when women are active­ly seek­ing infor­ma­tion is a key part of the process. Tar­get­ed, time­ly, and action­able con­tent, along with search engine opti­miza­tion, posi­tions your brand as a com­pas­sion­ate guide before, dur­ing and after the preg­nan­cy journey.

Cap­tur­ing the loy­al­ty of preg­nant women can go a long way in cre­at­ing a halo effect with­in the fam­i­ly, by extend­ing the rela­tion­ship and sub­se­quent patient rev­enue for pedi­atrics, urgent care, ongo­ing OB/GYN care and a vari­ety of oth­er health­care needs.

Elective Specialty Care

The sit­u­a­tion: Ser­vice lines like bariatrics, ortho­pe­dics and spine have a longer deci­sion cycle, requir­ing a sig­nif­i­cant invest­ment of time and mon­ey for con­sumers who go down the path of sur­gi­cal inter­ven­tions for weight loss, pain relief and oth­er elec­tive pro­ce­dures. Cur­rent­ly, hos­pi­tals around the coun­try have halt­ed activ­i­ty in these areas, and there’s pent-up con­sumer demand for ser­vices that will enhance their qual­i­ty of life.

The health sys­tems who build a pipeline for these ser­vices now can expe­dite care for patients and be the first to cap­i­tal­ize on these volumes.

The strat­e­gy: Mar­ket­ing efforts should focus on dri­ving home the point that your ser­vices will help them enjoy a high­er qual­i­ty of life fol­low­ing their expe­ri­ence. To achieve this, craft mes­sag­ing that engages con­sumers ear­ly in their research for options and advances them from aware­ness to action. Make sure to alle­vi­ate con­cerns and min­i­mize fric­tion dur­ing their jour­ney by address­ing their ques­tions and pro­mot­ing the out­comes you’re gen­er­at­ing for peo­ple like them.

Many health sys­tems today are prepar­ing for a post-COVID-19 surge in demand by offer­ing vir­tu­al sem­i­nars, pre-op vis­its via tele­health and using health risk assess­ments (HRAs) or down­load­able guides to fill the fun­nel with qual­i­fied leads.

Non-Elective Specialty Care

The sit­u­a­tion: For ser­vice lines like car­dio­vas­cu­lar care, endocrinol­o­gy and oncol­o­gy, it’s impor­tant to dri­ve engage­ment for inter­ven­tions like screen­ing pro­grams, heart checks and mam­mo­grams. For health­care brands to cap­ture loy­al­ty ear­ly in the patient jour­ney, can­di­dates need to receive clar­i­ty on their health con­cerns, under­stand their screen­ing options and have access to infor­ma­tion on ide­al treat­ment options.

The strat­e­gy: Effec­tive mes­sag­ing for these ser­vices often focus­es on the neg­a­tive con­se­quences of not seek­ing inter­ven­tion. Your brand can stand out as an authen­tic part­ner on the path to a healthy future by encour­ag­ing con­sumers to be aware of their health risks and take action now that allows them to con­tin­ue being there for the peo­ple they love.

While vir­tu­al sem­i­nars and tele­health vis­its are not always prac­ti­cal at the screen­ing and inter­ven­tion stage of the con­sumer jour­ney for these ser­vices, tools like HRAs can help con­sumers under­stand their rel­a­tive risks and help health sys­tems fill the fun­nel to quick­ly build vol­umes as the COVID-19 cri­sis dissipates.

Urgent Care

The sit­u­a­tion: Typ­i­cal­ly deal­ing with an unplanned event or sea­son­al issue, con­sumers seek­ing care for ill­ness­es and injuries have a short deci­sion cycle and often choose a provider based large­ly on access (loca­tion and con­ve­nience) and brand recognition.

The strat­e­gy: When mar­ket­ing urgent care, high­light online check ins, “hold my spot” fea­tures and oth­er attrib­ut­es that facil­i­tate con­ve­nience and ease of access. Also, be sure to pro­mote any part­ner­ships with hos­pi­tals and oth­er acute care providers that cre­ate a seam­less patient experience.

Let’s Connect

Learn how how we’re plan­ning ser­vice line growth strate­gies to meet cur­rent and future demand for health­care clients.

Hopeful, Joyful and Helpful Content Shared During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our lives, and its impact is reflected in our inboxes and social feeds.

These are chal­leng­ing times in health care, as health­care pro­fes­sion­als both on the front lines and behind the scenes are ris­ing to the occa­sion. They’re also cre­at­ing new con­tent dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. Shar­ing moments that keep us safe, teach us new ways of stay­ing healthy and even make us smile in the midst of the cri­sis helps us see hope.

Accord­ing to Dr. Den­nis Char­ney, dean of the Icahn School of Med­i­cine at Mount Sinai, hav­ing a pos­i­tive out­look in dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances is not only an impor­tant pre­dic­tor of resilience—defined as how quick­ly peo­ple recov­er from adversity—but it is the most impor­tant pre­dic­tor of it.

Let’s take a moment to cel­e­brate the myr­i­ad ways clin­i­cal, mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions lead­ers are lift­ing spir­its and lead­ing with pos­i­tiv­i­ty. Here are a few great exam­ples of how health­care lead­ers are per­se­ver­ing in the face of this pan­dem­ic and cre­at­ing excep­tion­al con­tent despite COVID-19 complications.

Sharing Hope and Joy

  • Cook Chil­dren’s Rise Up video is a beau­ti­ful trib­ute to their #Health­care­Heroes, with music per­formed by a 10-year-old patient.
  • A St. Joe’s Health nurse sings a beau­ti­ful ren­di­tion of “Amaz­ing Grace” at shift change.
  • Cleve­land Clin­ic shares a heart­felt mes­sage of grat­i­tude from a recent­ly-dis­charged patient who had COVID-19.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Lurie Children’s Hos­pi­tal chal­lenges fol­low­ers to post a fun video about handwashing.
  • Metro­Health high­lights Com­pas­sion­ate Care Rounders stand­ing in for vis­i­tors, con­nect­ing them with fam­i­ly mem­bers via video chat and read­ing them emails and let­ters. (Have your Kleenex handy for this one.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Communities Safe and Healthy

Moz founder Rand Fishkin sug­gests that in times of uncer­tain­ty, “The best type of mar­ket­ing you can cre­ate is stuff that helps first.”

Here are a few health­care orga­ni­za­tions and providers doing exact­ly that.

  • Jef­fer­son Health offers a com­pre­hen­sive parent’s guide to coronavirus.
  • LCMC Health shares six healthy ways to keep from going stir-crazy.

Share Your Stories

We’d love to high­light oth­er pos­i­tive moments and resources dur­ing this his­toric moment. Send your exam­ples to jskinner@truenorthcustom.com and we’ll share them with our community.

Get More Marketing Ideas and Examples

We’ll deliv­er thought- and joy-pro­vok­ing con­tent like this direct­ly to your inbox!

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Crisis Marketing Is More Important Than Ever in Health Care

The data is clear: During times of crisis, organizations that fine tune their marketing strategies to evolving customer needs come out stronger on the other side. 

Depend­ing on the size and scale of your orga­ni­za­tion, COVID-19 has either con­sumed every ounce of your focus (and ener­gy) or had a less dra­mat­ic impact. No mat­ter your per­son­al impact, mar­ket­ing health infor­ma­tion dur­ing a cri­sis has proven to be a chal­lenge. The pan­demic’s impact could mean new time pres­sures and resource con­straints for your cur­rent ini­tia­tives to meet exist­ing patient demand.

Here at True North Cus­tom, we’ve seen a mix of both sit­u­a­tions and we are com­mit­ted to guid­ing clients on how to effec­tive­ly tai­lor con­tent and cam­paigns to ensure the health of their com­mu­ni­ties and organizations.

Con­sid­er­ing the caveat that no two health­care orga­ni­za­tions are alike, there are sev­er­al rea­sons that we—along with thought lead­ers like Atri­um Health Senior Med­ical Direc­tor of Pop­u­la­tion Health Zeev Neuwirth, MD—see mar­ket­ing as a linch­pin dur­ing chal­leng­ing times like these.

To illus­trate, here are a few key rea­sons why we rec­om­mend that health­care orga­ni­za­tions main­tain a mean­ing­ful, con­sis­tent brand and out­reach strat­e­gy to gen­er­ate favor­able out­comes now and into the future. Let’s explore how this busi­ness prin­ci­ple trans­lates to health care, and how mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions lead­ers can dri­ve long-term suc­cess for their brands.

Your community needs healthcare information now more than ever.

The demand for online health­care con­tent has been on the rise for sev­er­al years and has now explod­ed, with the major­i­ty of U.S. house­holds work­ing and edu­cat­ing their chil­dren from home. This is cre­at­ing a surge of up to 50% more Inter­net traf­fic than the same peri­od last year, and hos­pi­tal and health sys­tem web­sites are among the most trust­ed sources of infor­ma­tion on coro­n­avirus as illus­trat­ed in the chart below from a recent NRC Health study.

 

By engag­ing these con­sumers with health­care con­tent that edu­cates them on COVID-19 issues, eas­es their anx­i­ety and encour­ages them to take the most appro­pri­ate actions, your brand can cre­ate affin­i­ty that lasts long after the pan­dem­ic has passed.

Your service line prospects need a pathway to treatment.

That grand­moth­er who needs a hip replace­ment, the father prepar­ing for weight-loss surgery and a mom stress­ing out about her non-malig­nant tumor are cer­tain­ly con­cerned about COVID-19—and still seek­ing to address the phys­i­cal and/or emo­tion­al pain caused by their health issues.

It’s imper­a­tive that health­care orga­ni­za­tions stay con­nect­ed to these con­sumers, as demand will only grow as sup­ply is con­strained. In fact, a sur­vey of 1,000 con­sumers on their sen­ti­ment dur­ing COVID-19 found half (50%) are plan­ning to pur­chase health­care ser­vices in the next 30 days.

Rather than paus­ing cam­paigns pro­mot­ing these and oth­er non-COVID ser­vices, we rec­om­mend adjust­ing con­tent and calls to action to acknowl­edge the sit­u­a­tion and secure their place in line. For exam­ple, peo­ple who con­vert on a form pro­mot­ing spe­cial­ty appoint­ments can receive a mes­sage to the effect of, “We’re not accept­ing new patients right now, but please pro­vide your con­tact infor­ma­tion and we’ll reach out as soon as we can to sched­ule an appointment.”

This allows your orga­ni­za­tion to col­lect infor­ma­tion from these can­di­dates, expe­dite their treat­ment and enhance their over­all patient expe­ri­ence now and when restric­tions are loos­ened and capac­i­ty becomes available.

Your organization needs a short- and long-term marketing strategy for virtual care.

In the near term, tele­health and oth­er vir­tu­al care options are expand­ing to address imme­di­ate health needs and reduce risk of COVID-19 infec­tion. Longer term, your orga­ni­za­tion needs a strat­e­gy for scal­ing and pro­mot­ing these ser­vices as con­sumers get accus­tomed to seek­ing a med­ical diag­no­sis via screen—and offer­ing a fric­tion­less expe­ri­ence becomes their base­line expectation.

Of course, the spike in demand for vir­tu­al care is caus­ing many sys­tems to expe­ri­ence capac­i­ty issues so the imme­di­ate needs are more like­ly relat­ed to oper­a­tional­iz­ing the tech­nol­o­gy and train­ing on cod­ing require­ments. How­ev­er,  now is the time to think strate­gi­cal­ly about how to posi­tion your orga­ni­za­tion as the best choice for care in the set­ting that’s right for your consumers.

Whether your favorite adop­tion curve apho­rism is “the tooth­paste is out of the tube” or “the genie is out of the bot­tle,” there’s typ­i­cal­ly no turn­ing back once peo­ple get com­fort­able with more advanced technology.

To facil­i­tate vir­tu­al care ini­tia­tives dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, we rec­om­mend point­ing urgent care patients to tele­health as an alter­na­tive to in-per­son vis­its, as well as redi­rect­ing top-of-the-fun­nel con­ver­sions for pri­or­i­ty ser­vice lines. For exam­ple, some­one who is research­ing for same-day surgery options and down­loads a guide can be direct­ed toward a COVID-19 updates land­ing page that high­lights the organization’s cur­rent poli­cies with a call to action to sign up for week­ly email updates on the evolv­ing situation.

Your leadership needs insights on the market.

A clear view of brand per­cep­tion, con­sumer pref­er­ences, geo­graph­ic mar­ket dynam­ics and oth­er met­rics still matter—and will be even more impor­tant when the dust set­tles. Rev­enue growth was the top pri­or­i­ty before the cri­sis, and rebound­ing from the finan­cial impact of COVID-19 will be para­mount as the virus dis­si­pates and health­care orga­ni­za­tions com­pete for pent-up demand.

Mar­ket­ing has a unique van­tage point into these strat­e­gy dri­vers and oth­er areas that can inform deci­sions. Keep­ing your team informed and clar­i­fy­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion dur­ing the cri­sis is crit­i­cal, and will ensure the most effec­tive invest­ments and oth­er strate­gic ini­tia­tives for long-term success

Your peers need to be informed and inspired.

The “we’re in this togeth­er” mind­set is per­me­at­ing through­out health­care, and main­tain­ing team morale is crit­i­cal to meet­ing expec­ta­tions from all stake­hold­ers, includ­ing patients, con­sumers, physi­cians and board mem­bers dur­ing the crisis.

Your organization’s mes­sag­ing strat­e­gy and active pres­ence on the web­site, social media and oth­er plat­forms should cel­e­brate those going above and beyond to care for the com­mu­ni­ty. Blog and social posts focus­ing on Health­care Heroes are see­ing engage­ment rates high­er than oth­ers, reflect­ing a sense of com­mu­ni­ty that your con­tent can help fos­ter through sto­ries of sac­ri­fice and hope.

Your competitors are either doubling down … or going dark.

Either way, now is not the time to scale back and shrink away from your audi­ence. Notwith­stand­ing finan­cial emer­gen­cies, a short-term response to cut a rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing func­tion sends a mes­sage that com­mu­ni­ty out­reach and patient acqui­si­tion aren’t priorities—and that could have last­ing impact beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

We pro­pose tak­ing a strate­gic approach to piv­ot­ing your mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives that reflect the real­i­ties of the day, with­out com­pro­mis­ing the brand per­cep­tion and rev­enue growth oppor­tu­ni­ties of tomorrow.

We’re Here to Help

Our health­care mar­ket­ing experts can share insights and best prac­tices based on part­ner­ships with orga­ni­za­tions like yours.

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