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