Discover how HCA Healthcare Vice President of Marketing Nicole Baxter is guiding the nation’s largest health system toward a less transactional, more strategic mindset.
As Vice President of Marketing at HCA Healthcare, Nicole Baxter is fully committed to a patient-first approach for the nation’s largest health system. She talks about how she’s doing it in this conversation with True North Custom President and CEO Eric Silberman for our 3 Key Insights series.
Key insight #1: The patient experience is broader than the encounter.
We eat, breathe and sleep thinking about how to meet consumers where they are. Historically, healthcare has been very transactional in that we’ve met consumers at that point of decision. We’re trying to change the game by being where they are when they don’t need us. Yes, we need to be there when they’re searching for a doctor, an urgent care, ER or other “point of sale”—but we’re also prioritizing an always-on approach of being there when they’re not sick. Our goal is to be top of mind consistently so we’re there when that point of need comes for the consumer.
Also, the tone of voice is critical as we think about how we’re showing up for our healthcare decision-makers. We’re trying to change the game from a content perspective. Historically, the provider has been the star of the show and the consumer is the supporting actress. We’re trying to flip that on its head by making it all about the consumer. We’re here to solve their problems, not the other way around.
That is not how healthcare has historically approached marketing. It’s been, “Let us tell you how great we are, learn about our world-class care” and other antiquated buzzwords. We’re changing to a tone that is familiar to serve as a friendly constant in a consumer’s life and that gets away from that transactional relationship—so that we’re talking with our patients, not just to them.
Key insight #2: Consumer insights make a patient-first approach possible.
I would not be in any marketing role that does not support insights at the root of all strategic decision-making. As an organization, we invest in insights, research and online anthropology more than ever before.
You’ve also got to read between the lines. Consumers are going to answer the questions you’re posing, but it’s the things that they’re saying when you’re not asking that you’ve got to really pay attention to and build strategies around.
For example, one of the insights we’ve been able to leverage to build scale is that consumer needs are not really different if you look across a broad spectrum. However, looking at decision-makers, we’ve discovered that unmarried men are a huge opportunity for us. Married men are already heavily influenced by their spouses or parents; unmarried men don’t necessarily have that same female ecosystem around them. We were able to identify a unique population that no one is really going after.
Something I also try to impress on our team is that our competition is not other hospitals anymore. It’s Amazon, Zappos and all these apps that are in front of us constantly. Netflix defines its competition as sleep, not as other streaming services.
By looking at things differently and redefining the competition in all areas, we can affect change and advance the healthcare marketing discipline.
Key insight #3: When change is the only constant, agility is critical.
The boring slot in healthcare marketing is taken. We’ve got to evolve and change to be where the consumer is in a completely different way. Typically there has been mistrust around some of these healthcare institutions. However, we’re coming off a year and a half where the most trusted person is the nurse, the doctor, the hospital. We’re at a tipping point. The time is now to take the learnings from the last year and capitalize on showcasing our people.
As healthcare marketers, we must evolve to a place where our mindset is less transactional and more about getting people to wellness, security and peace of mind.
And most importantly: This is not a one-and-done approach. It’s being willing to build for change, not build for things to last like we have in the past.
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