From hospitals and physician offices to community clinics and pharmaceutical companies, organizations that operate within the healthcare space not only provide essential services for patients, but also market themselves as businesses. While marketing and communications may evolve for healthcare organizations, future healthcare leaders can benefit from learning how current and prospective marketing strategies and communication vehicles could help them in their future careers.
Communication Remains Essential to Keeping Patients Healthy
Patients may not always follow their doctors’ instructions once they leave an appointment or complete a hospital stay. Startup platform Built In Chicago contributor Andreas Rekdal revealed that companies have begun to create technological solutions to help physicians track patient recovery.
According to Rekdal, many current communications platforms encourage healthcare providers to focus on their most critical patients. When patients begin to improve, providers may not always follow up with them. Rekdal profiled a new communications tool called PatientBond, an automated platform that helps physicians contact patients at key stages during their recovery periods.
Rekdal revealed that PatientBond has already achieved impressive results, including reducing hospital readmissions for serious conditions such as congestive heart failure and spinal disorders. Rekdal noted that PatientBond facilitates two-way communication between the physician and their patients. Physicians are now able to track and monitor an individual’s progress, concerns, or any changes to their condition.
According to the IHC, “There are strong positive relationships between a healthcare team member’s communication skills and a patient’s capacity to follow through with medical recommendations, self-manage a chronic medical condition, and adopt preventive health behaviors.”
The IHC’s research suggests that patients take better care of themselves when they receive regular feedback and encouragement from healthcare providers. This implication could mean that technology and communication will continue to evolve together in healthcare settings. Professionals with advanced training in communication studies could find themselves better suited to ensure quality patient care.
Pay Attention to Ways to Cultivate Patient Engagement
In addition to improving communication between healthcare providers and their patients, stronger marketing messages could lead to better results for healthcare businesses. Writing for the American Hospital Association’s Hospitals & Health Networks publication, Dr. Timothy Poulton suggests that marketing and communications can work together. He asserted that patient engagement can fuel improved relationships between patients and providers. Additionally, he noted that engagement can keep patients returning to the same providers.
According to Poulton, training staff in emotional intelligence can increase patient engagement. Specifically, he mentioned five qualities in which healthcare staff may receive training:
- Mindfulness: Healthcare providers can benefit from practicing mindfulness in all interactions with patients. In some cases, patients may feel that their providers don’t “understand them.”
- Listening: Patients often engage more actively with physicians when providers listen actively. Healthcare professionals may want to avoid interrupting their patients or demonstrating other distracting behaviors.
- Details: Providers can encourage open communication by asking patients to list their complaints before addressing the first one. The first complaint often distracts physicians, leaving other symptoms unresolved.
- Gratitude: Thanking patients can lead to improved relationships. Healthcare administrators may carry this gratitude over to their marketing campaigns by sending thank-you and follow-up notes to stay in contact with patients.
Healthcare organizations that incorporate social media into their marketing campaigns are able to connect with their patients to build relationships and ultimately, aim to provide more meaningful connections to their patients. In a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey, nearly half of respondents reported reading consumer reviews related to healthcare in some capacity. Nearly 30 percent reported seeking others’ experiences with a particular disease or condition. Twenty-four percent viewed videos and other user-generated content to learn more about a particular health condition. PwC concluded that “Organizations that can incorporate this information into their operations will be better positioned to meet the needs of today’s consumers.”
Digital Marketing Efforts May Supersede Traditional Marketing Techniques
Building on PwC’s observations about healthcare organizations and social media, an article by Kristin Hambelton for Becker’s Hospital Review pointed out that only 14 percent of healthcare facilities’ marketing budgets were devoted to digital solutions in 2015.
She also noted that healthcare marketers must focus on return on investment before they pursue a marketing strategy. For example, technology allows marketers to show that a certain campaign, such as paid search or paid social, can return a certain amount of money for every marketing dollar spent. This knowledge can allow marketers to communicate a campaign’s value to decision makers. Modern technology, including customer relationship management (CRM) and analytics programs, can allow marketers to measure results from each campaign.
Marketing Through Storytelling Could Connect Providers With Patients
When pursuing digital marketing solutions, storytelling can make marketing messages more compelling. Writing for Modern Healthcare, David May reported that Northwell Health, a healthcare system, decided to change its name in 2016 from North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, a name that was difficult for people to articulate. According to May, Northwell created a video to announce the name change and communicate the story behind the healthcare system’s growth.
To engage viewers and create an emotional connection with potential patients, Northwell wove together the story of its own rebirth with the story of one of the first children born in New York City in 2016. May suggested that the timing of the event and the preparation that led up to the video’s release helped attract more viewers.
Furthermore, Northwell and May suggested that positive storytelling can generate better results than fear-based storytelling. The company wanted to tell a story that celebrated birth in a hospital instead of one that may frighten patients into scheduling an examination.
Learning to tell meaningful stories could help healthcare providers reach new customers by connecting on an emotional level. An advanced education could help you develop your marketing and storytelling skills while gaining hands-on training and experience.
New marketing and communications strategies may enable healthcare providers to reach new audiences and to measure the return on investment they receive from marketing campaign initiatives, which ultimately could boost profits.
If you’re thinking about a career in healthcare administration, knowledge of marketing and communications could prove beneficial. Explore New England College’s online Master of Science in Management – Healthcare Administration degree program to learn more about educational opportunities that can help you become a more effective healthcare leader.