Embrace these 2018 trends in health care marketing

Marketing health care services is likely to get even more competitive in the coming year. Pay attention to these key issues.

Health care marketing in 2018 is as complicated as ever—if not more so.

Whatever happens with the Affordable Care Act, hospitals and their staffs are still dealing with the challenge of persuading patients to trust them and their facilities.

As you plan your marketing efforts for the year, be prepared to adapt along with these trends:

Video

A report from the Smith+Jones website, a health care marketing agency, reports that “Demand for videos about health is growing”:

While the rise of people googling their symptoms gives doctors agita, it’s a big opportunity for healthcare marketers. What’s great about video content is how easily accessible it is, but its Achilles’ heel is that it can be created by anyone, regardless of their health qualifications. That leaves a big hole in the market for qualified clinicians to deliver health information without straying into dispensing medical advice. The marketer who successfully threads this needle will have a big accomplishment on their résumé.

Social media engagement

You can’t ignore the reach and influence of online networks. The Managed Healthcare Executive website reports:

More than 65 percent of chief marketing officers say they use social media to drive business and build their digital brand. Done well, it boosts awareness, generates new business leads, and builds more intimate, connected customer relationships.

… For healthcare marketers, the challenge is bringing key stakeholders along for the ride. Moving from traditional fee-for-service to value-based payment means answering the question, “What’s in it for me?” Not only for patients, but equally as important are the providers of care responsible for living within the guardrails of high-performance, consumer-centric healthcare built on new models of financing, care delivery, and patient engagement, and measured on cost and quality of clinical outcomes. Marketers must use successes to demonstrate the value in value-based care, and use any failures as lessons learned.

Patient portals

Today’s patients are impatient. They don’t want to hang on the phone or sit in the waiting room to talk to their doctors. Systems designed to let them communicate with physicians are front and center of their expectations. The ReferralMD website notes:

Currently, most portals allow patients to view test results, immunizations, and their medical history. However, a recent review of patient attitudes toward patient portals found a number of negative experiences. According to the CDW Healthcare survey , less than 30 percent of patients would give their healthcare providers an “A” for technology use, and 89 percent want easier access to their portal. Patients are demanding a more user-friendly experience.

Patient reviews

People are likelier to visit a given physician if they’re confident they’ll get good care. What persuades them? Comments from other patients. As the Practice Builders website advises:

One way to market your medical practice is by getting positive reviews on popular third-party sites such as Healthgrades.com and Vitals.com. Your patients can also post reviews on social media sites like Facebook, Yelp and Google+. If the majority of your reviews are negative, or if you do not have any reviews at all, the chances are that the new patient will choose another practice.

Encouraging patients to post reviews of your practice is simple. A good way to encourage patients to post reviews is through automated emails after each visit or by including a link to the third-party review website in your satisfaction surveys.

Communicators, how do these trends resonate with you and your health care professionals? What else are you doing to market your facilities’ offerings?

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