How to Channel Patient Needs through Marketing Channels

May 23, 2016

Hospital Marketing

So your marketing team has most channels covered: call center, email, search, Facebook, Twitter, even a smartphone app. But are you really meeting patient needs?

Last month we covered the components of healthcare marketing’s technology renaissance, and what your organization really needs to succeed. But once you have a toolkit of end-to-end solutions, how should you deploy it?

Moving from Channel Needs to Patient Needs

With the rapid explosion of social media sites, new media outlets, and an ever-growing consumer dependence on mobile technology, it can be tempting to take the shotgun approach. Spray marketing efforts around to every potential channel, and something might stick. This approach—call it multi-channel marketing—doesn’t yield optimal results.

For example, imagine a pregnant millennial. The multi-channel approach treats her like a schizophrenic. She is treated completely differently when she is on an organization’s website or social media site, when she is completing an online search, when she is opening email newsletters and offers, when she’s using a mobile app, and when she is actually in the hospital. That’s six separate expectant mothers. Meanwhile, she just wants the best healthcare that meets her emotional and functional needs during the pre-, peri-, and post-natal periods. And she wants it delivered at a competitive price at a time and place of her choosing.

The Omni-Channel Experience

How should you approach the unprecedented number of marketing channels available to your organization? The key point to remember is that the purpose of marketing channels is to meet consumer needs where they are by understanding patient behavior. In other words, the goal is not to meet the needs of all the various marketing channels, but to meet the needs of your patient audience. This is the omni-channel experience, viewing all channels as serving a singular but multi-faceted patient.

Aim for channel agnosticism while you answer the human questions. Who are you trying to engage? Where are they most likely to engage with you? What messages and experiences will they actually find engaging? Converge the content, and distribute it where it is most useful in helping people optimize their outcomes and lead healthier lives.

To accomplish this goal, you need a marketing technology stack that creates a single, universal view of each health consumer—a universal consumer profile—from a number of originating data silos. Then you can combine the insights it generates with the story-telling and creative talents of your marketing team.

Decoding Value

To unlock the value in the combination of insights and creativity, you need to identify inflection points along the patient journey. In the example of the millennial mom, that means identifying when she may be:

  • Struggling with fertility issues
  • In need of routine pre-natal care
  • Suspecting a high-risk pregnancy
  • Deciding between a midwife and a hospital birth
  • Approaching her delivery date
  • In need of pediatric care

By understanding the context of this millennial mom’s behavior, you can provide the appropriate content at each point along her patient journey, through marketing channels of her choosing. Regardless of the channel, you see and treat one patient.

More marketing channels do not equal better messaging, or even coordinated and cohesive messaging. Nor do they help consumers to lead healthier lives. These benefits come from leveraging insights gleaned from a universal consumer profile. From there, you can create a unified, channel-agnostic consumer experience throughout the patient journey.

Back to April 2016