We’re fortunate to work with wonderful hospitals and health systems around the country. We get to work with great people doing great work — helping care and heal others. We market tertiary regional academic medical centers in the heart of the most populous cities in the country. We also market community hospitals in rural counties. Urban academics and rural community hospitals may be on opposite ends of the spectrum. But both can benefit from tapping into the common wants, needs, desires and passions of Americans across the country.
1. People want to be treated with dignity and respect. No matter how good your services are. No matter how much technology you offer. If your nurses and physicians are rude, dismissive, or even fail to show concern to a patient, your brand — and share of market — will suffer.
2. People will tolerate inconveniences in healthcare – for now. Until your arch rival down the street implements their new EMR system, or if your website is anything but helpful but at least it’s better than the hospital across town, you may be able to force your patients to suffer inconvenient and archaic scheduling systems and mind-boggling billing systems. But given the opportunity to cut bait and go to another provider who offers more convenient and flexible healthcare solutions, what do you think your patients will do? What would you do?
3. Most people will go where their doctor sends them. Which means a robust physician marketing program is in order – and don’t take for granted your employed physicians are sending patients to your hospital. (Check the referral patterns. You might be shocked.) Also, inventory your online health content – not just third party health content, but your own branded content – your physicians, your services, what is available at your hospital and by your providers. People in small towns and big cities are turning to the web in record numbers for health content. How’s your SEO? What’s your YouTube strategy?
4. Quality awards and ratings don’t resonate with most people. We healthcare professionals love our third party awards. We know the work that goes into our accreditations and the value to our patients. But most people don’t know or trust the growing number of quality awards. If your brand is not known for quality, your consumers are likely to view your awards as suspect. (In focus groups when we test ratings messages, people often say, “Anyone can get an award if they pay enough money for it.”) There are exceptions, of course. But don’t expect your work to be done by simply tacking on a ratings logo to your ad.
Yes, folks in San Francisco may have different preferences than folks in Oklahoma City. And within each healthcare market there are unique opportunities. But at the end of the day, people are people. They want to be healed, they want to be cared for, and they want that healing with as little disruption and headaches as possible.
What about your market? Do your patients value the same things I mentioned? What’s different about your audience? What are you doing to appeal to them?