The Big Shift: New Strategies for Hospital Service Line Marketing

by | Feb 26, 2021 | Service Line Growth | 0 comments

Driving revenue is more critical than ever—and healthcare marketers are rising to the challenge. Discover how a reimagined approach to hospital service line marketing will improve the health of your community and supercharge your patient acquisition strategy.

Now more than ever, there is an acute focus on accel­er­at­ing patient acqui­si­tion through ser­vice line marketing.

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)

Anoth­er fac­tor dri­ving the urgency to gen­er­ate new patients is shift­ing con­sumer loy­al­ty. To illus­trate, a recent McK­in­sey sur­vey of health­care con­sumers found that 80% have a pri­ma­ry care provider (PCP), and more than 1 in 10 are con­sid­er­ing a change. Of the 20% who do not have PCP, and near­ly 1 in 3 are inter­est­ed in find­ing one.

These fac­tors are con­verg­ing to cat­alyze the impor­tance of an effec­tive ser­vice line mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy. As not­ed dur­ing our recent webi­nar with health­care experts at McK­in­sey & Com­pa­ny, “now is a very impor­tant time to think about a com­pre­hen­sive growth plan.”

In this envi­ron­ment, patient acqui­si­tion is para­mount.

This imper­a­tive is reflect­ed in the 2020 Health­care Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Trends sur­vey that found, “Patient acqui­si­tion shot to the top of the list [of pri­or­i­ties] this year, and by a wide margin.” 

While no walk in the park pri­or to the pan­dem­ic, build­ing vol­ume is even more chal­leng­ing in an envi­ron­ment where con­sumers are more prone to switch­ing health­care providers.

The real­i­ty is that rebound­ing from this finan­cial deficit will be more of a marathon than a sprint.

Mar­keters who lay the ground­work now through effec­tive ser­vice line mar­ket­ing will posi­tion their orga­ni­za­tions for 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 last 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 where your health­care mar­ket­ing plan 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. While there will always be curve­balls thrown to mar­keters through­out the year, set­ting pri­or­i­ties based on the areas of great­est impact is imper­a­tive to recov­er from the finan­cial chal­lenges of the pandemic.

Now: As health­care mar­ket­ing matures into a data-dri­ven dis­ci­pline, the focus for ser­vice line mar­ket­ing 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 pipeline 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 hos­pi­tal ser­vice line mar­ket­ing 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.

Discover How We Do It

Find out how we helped Beau­fort Memo­r­i­al Hos­pi­tal gen­er­ate leads for ortho­pe­dics, wom­en’s health and oth­er pri­or­i­ty ser­vice lines.

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.

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