As I was watching the umpteenth commercial for a local health system, I realized that there are a lot of terms in health care, continuity of care, continuum of care, team approach, integrative medicine to name a few, that focus on group care for their patients. The idea is that the more touch points that a patient has in the same health system, the greater the chance for them to live healthier.
This makes sense to us in healthcare because we know things like the patient’s EMR, insurance coverage, and medication management are all handled seamlessly by staying in our health system. However, it is a message that continually gets lost in translation to the patient. To increase positive outcomes, reduce treatment costs, and increase revenue, health systems need to revamp their marketing direction towards a more integrated marketing plan.
According to BusinessDictionary.com1, integrated marketing is the strategy aimed at unifying different marketing methods such as mass marketing, one-to-one marketing, and direct marketing. Its objective is to complement and reinforce the market impact of each method, and to employ the market data generated by these efforts in product development, pricing, distribution, customer service, etc.
In a healthcare setting, integrated marketing means that you are consistently telling your target audience how all of your services can help them live better and how these services work together to make your life easier. Integrated marketing would tell a patient how you walk them through an entire episode.
For instance, telling the story in a marketing context of a patient who visits an urgent care with an injured knee, who receives an x ray on the spot, has a next day appointment with an orthopedist, who schedules an MRI later in the day, performs surgery later that week, sends them to a PT near their home, and encourages them to join a fitness center to finish rehabbing the injury while getting healthier. And repeating this type of story line for every service line that the health system provides- cardiology, endocrinology, OBGYN…
Each one of these has a storyline that involves multiple touchpoints inside of the health system that involves key ancillary services- nutritionists, OT/ST/PT, health centers, weight management, etc. Instead of sending out notices that your health system now has X service now available to their patients, take the time to tell the patients how and when they need the service through real life examples.
Use common areas of intercept- newsletters, waiting rooms, exam rooms, social media, mass marketing like TV, radio, print and billboard- to reinforce your messages. Posters, digital media monitors, and brochures should be everywhere inside of your medical offices directing behavior to help patients learn what you do and why they should care. Do not placate patients by running mindless TV. They are in your office for a reason, arm them with the information they need to live healthier. You’ll be surprised how well they will respond when you reinforce the “why they should care” portion of your message.
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