The Big Shift: New Strategies for Hospital Service Line Marketing

by | Jul 16, 2020 | Service Line Growth | 0 comments

Driving priority service line revenue is more critical than ever—and healthcare marketers are the vanguard for this pivotal mission. Discover how a reimagined approach to hospital service line marketing will improve the health of your community and ignite long-term financial success for your organization.

Among the current priorities for healthcare marketers amidst the pandemic, there is an acute focus on accelerating revenue growth.

This mandate to move the revenue needle comes in response to a sharp decline in health spending, as illustrated by recent reports:

  • Hospital spending, as well as physician and clinical services spending, fell by 40.7% and 40.9%, respectively, in April. (The Keckley Report)
  • U.S. hospitals are predicted to lose more than $200 billion in revenue by June 30, with the total revenue hit from the pandemic estimated at about $50 billion a month among healthcare facilities since March. (American Hospital Association)
  • While federal funding will help hospitals on the road to recovery, just 11% of all executives—and only 3% of health system respondents—believe it will be enough to cover COVID-19-related costs. (Guidehouse)

Rebounding from this financial deficit will be more of a marathon than a sprint. Marketers who lay the groundwork now will position their organizations for an accelerated recovery period and long-term financial health.

Healthcare Marketing’s Moment is Here

To reach their communities during this time of crisis, healthcare organizations are turning to the experts in consumer engagement: the marketing and communications team.

Around 70% of health system executives surveyed in June said their main concern is replacing lost patient volume and revenue, and a similar share said their focus is on marketing, education and patient outreach to make it happen.

When clinical leaders were recently asked to rank their top concerns about resuming deferred procedures, the majority (54%) cited low patient demand—their #2 concern behind the possibility of another outbreak or second wave. Despite this concern, 30% said their organizations have not yet implemented an external communication strategy to address the issue.

The opportunity to guide your community to better health is here.

The imperative to drive growth for your organization is clear.

The time to shift your hospital service line marketing strategy is now.

Here are four areas that must evolve to make it happen.

The Shift in Planning: From Squeaky Wheels to Strategic Focus

Before: Marketing plans were always designed around priority service lines, but often evolved haphazardly throughout the year based on bright shiny objects, physician turnover and the whims of the loudest C-suite voices.vWhile there will always be curveballs thrown to marketers throughout the year, a shift to a consumer-centric approach to marketing strategy and prioritization is critical to recovering from the impact of the pandemic.

Now: As healthcare marketing matures into a data-driven discipline, the focus for service line campaigns is determined by market demand and capacity forecasts, virtual care capabilities, profitability and other strategic perspectives.

This evolution in planning from instinct to insights is elevating the role of marketing and fostering greater collaboration among clinical leaders and other stakeholders.

The Shift in Content: From Hard Sell to Consumer-Centric

Before: Healthcare services can, for many organizations, be grouped into two buckets: immediate needs that consumers want to access as easily as possible and those with a longer decision cycle. Messaging has often aligned with where consumers are in their journey to drive them from awareness to consideration to action as quickly as we can.

Now: We’re currently faced with a unique challenge of consumer fear and a hesitancy to return to care, coupled with a demand for messaging that’s personalized and appropriate for where the individual is on their decision journey.

It’s critical to communicate why it’s important to seek emergency care for a potential heart attack, why it’s important to catch various cancers early through regular screenings and more. Consumers also demand to know what you’re doing to keep them safe at your facilities and what’s expected of them.

The Shift in Channels: From Isolated to Integrated

Before: Brand and lead generation strategies have historically been discrete marketing initiatives in health care, with little overlap between the content planned, developed and distributed for each.

Now: Content marketing and traditional brand initiatives are being used as growth drivers in new ways that both optimize success and maximize budgets. Social media, in particular, allows you to align content marketing and digital strategy to effectively build a funnel of potential candidates. This complements paid search efforts that drive immediate conversions.

The Shift in Tools and Tracking: From Vaporware to Value Add

Before: Managing a service line campaign involved a hodgepodge of disparate and often home-grown tools for planning, project management, performance tracking and other key functions.

Now: Healthcare marketers are adopting digital tools used by retail and other industries, allowing them to glean real-time customer insights, scale campaigns across multiple markets and increase conversion rates for high-value services.

Let’s Shift Your Service Line Marketing Strategy

Our healthcare marketing experts can guide you through every step, from planning and campaign development to measurement and optimization.