Anticipation Builds Patient Volume

March 9, 2010

You can increase patient volume by simply anticipating the behavior of your target audience: patients follow a predictable two-step process, which is vital to understand as a healthcare marketer:

  1. The Internet is the first place patients go (no surprise here). It’s their source to investigate health questions, gather research and understand how to engage medical consultation.
  2. Patients seek doctors as their secondary step. And today’s patient is prepared for discussion because of online research and poised to TRUST their doctors in contrast with the Internet.

So, are you meeting your patients there? Let me ask you this — is your hospital system providing the answers your patients are looking for on the Internet?

Take a quick look at your website: is it a resource that will satisfy seeking patients? It should be. More importantly, is it easy for seekers to take the next step?

Knowing the second step allows you to transition research-seekers to patients. It’s your job to make it as simple as possible – ONLINE! Let your digital resources offer easy next steps to schedule a consultation.

Business Week highlights this simple equation. Your doctors are irreplaceable, and that’s where your strength lies.

While recent controversy has challenged that the Internet has replaced physicians, the Internet has only challenged the ‘first consultation’, and you can participate on a digital level (with the knowledge that patients ultimately need an in-person interaction).

If you really want to increase your patient volume, walk the two-steps with patients. Anticipate their health questions online first, and then ensure that your web presence and social media platforms offer tools for conversion.

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Use a Full Media Mix to Build Patient Volume

February 26, 2010

There is a something you can do that will revolutionize your ability to drive volume into the hospital: learn how to effectively put together a full media mix.

In 1993 the seminal work Integrated Marketing Communications- Putting It All Together & Making It Work by Shultz, Tannenbaum and Lauterborn, rocked the way marketers were thinking about how to communicate with their targets. Their basic premise was that mass media by itself no longer works. They concluded that a large variety of contacts with the target, activation points, were needed to help build a strong brand reputation and sales growth.

Even though this was a landmark work by any definition, reportedly the authors were somewhat surprised that the book never fully revolutionized corporate marketing the way they had hoped. Why? Because in 1993 there were not enough activation points. Now there are countless and they are proliferating like ants at a picnic.

What are some of the activation points you should consider?

Along with all the traditional media you have used for years you have to build intimacy and dialog with consumers using new media.

There are now over 400 million Facebook users, Twitter is growing by over 7 million users a month, consumers’ trust in the recommendations of friends and neighbors is growing thanks to social media networks and custom niche social networks like Ning.

Almost 70% of consumers go to the internet about an elective procedure before they talk to a medical professional. One of the most important things you can do is to use spider analytics to monitor all blogs and social media for mentions of your doctors- an essential discipline I call Reputation Management.

I believe your job as a hospital marketer just got easier and harder at the same time. Easier because there are so many new ways for you to develop real relationship with consumers choosing a provider. Harder because everything is changing at lightening speed and you have no choice but to keep up.

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Take Control of Your Social Media Life and Drive Patient Volume

February 17, 2010

Your social media life feels overwhelming. By developing a simple plan which can be executed in 30 days, you will feel empowered, start connecting with patients and driving them into your system.

Fast Company’s article “Work Smart: Mastering Your Social Media Life” explains:

When you’re active on the Web, keeping up with all your online accounts can feel like a full-time job. You want your high school friends to find you on Facebook, your co-workers to follow you on Twitter, and business associates to find you on LinkedIn. But there are only so many hours in the day, and too many Web sites to check in and update. The good news is that you don’t have to hire a personal assistant to update all your profiles. With the right strategy, you can manage multiple accounts with minimal effort.

Fast Company recommends a few easy strategies for mastering your social media life:

  • Make social media come to you: set-up alerts to your email account
  • Interact from a single interface: From TweetDeck or Digsby, for example, you can post a status update to both Twitter and Facebook at the same time.
  • Split time between personal and business

With these strategies you have mastered how to manage all the different elements, but you should ask yourself: “Are my efforts driving the right patient, with the right payer to the right service line?” If you answered no, here is what I recommend:

  • Identify a clear specific target
  • Create a specific and relevant message
  • Find your voice
  • Reach your target frequently with relevant messages to them (about your benefits to them-not your capabilities)
  • Stay consistent: once you stop posting, your audience looses the connection with you

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5 Steps to Tweet Your Way to Increased Patient Volume

February 5, 2010

According to a recent study 90% of hospitals and health systems use social media tools, but only 1 in 3 have a digital strategy.

Social media tools are not a magic bullet, but by utilizing the right mix of tools, social media is a great way to drive patient volume by delivering relevant content to interested patients at the moment they are looking for it.

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service. A large portion of Twitter users are older adults with only 11% of users between the ages of 12 and 17.

How can you get started on Twitter?

Below are 5 easy steps to get you effectively tweeting.

  1. Identify your audience: you can’t reach everyone in 140 characters
  2. Create relevant messages: if you can provide useful information to your audience they will listen and spread your message
  3. Have a plan: utilize tools to easily and consistently update your page
  4. Integrate: Let Twitter support your greater marketing effort
  5. Network: Don’t wait until people find you, go find them. On average 40% of the people you follow will follow you back!

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A Simple Digital Strategy that Drives Patient Volume

February 3, 2010

Relationships = volume.

Social media allows you to connect with patient and prospective patients on a more personal level. You can deliver relevant information to them at the moment they are looking for it opening a dialogue with patients even before they enter your system.

73% of companies say social media is part of their overall interactive strategy but less than 40% have a social media strategy.

“Social Media Top Online Priority in 2010,” an article from MarketingProfs, highlights this trend and goes on to highlight that only 39.9% of companies have a 6-12 month digital strategy and less than half of those people are confident with that strategy.

This presents an enormous opportunity to drive patient volume with a strong integrated digital strategy. By providing relevant content to your current patients, it has the potential to spread virally to their personal networks and communities.

Sound like a daunting task? You can begin to see results in patient volumes as early as within 60 days by following a few simple steps:

  1. Identify your target audience
  2. Develop relevant messages for the audience
  3. Implement a process for consistent updating
  4. Measure and don’t forget to evolve

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Leverage Primary Stroke Center Certification to Increase Neurology Business

February 1, 2010

You can drive profitable Neurology business by simply leveraging the benefits of primary stroke center certification and mailing it to every employer and every consumer over 50 years old, within a radius of 75% of the distance to the nearest other Primary Stroke Center.

How do you let them know?

  • Create a one-page one-sided flier on the benefits of Primary Stroke Center Certification, point out the need to identify a stroke within the first 180 minutes.
  • Distribute the flyer to every employer and seniors and community center within a 75% of the distance of the nearest other Primary Stroke Center facility
  • Along with the flier, enclose a magnet with the big headline “Stroke: you only have 180 minutes or less. Act Now!” with the symptoms of stroke, the benefits of Primary Stroke Certification  and locations of your Emergency Departments
  • Pitch the broadcast and print media with engaging stories/examples of how disaster was averted by quickly getting the patient to a Primary Stroke Center- make survivors available for interview
  • The media particularly likes telemedicine stories about someone that was saved electronically by quick remote diagnosis and tPA dosage at one of your affiliated facilities
  • Do a custom URL (www.yourhospital/stroke) that outlines quick accessible information about symptoms and next steps
  • Make symptom and next step information mobile friendly. Then have your Health Promotions team teach how to access a stroke information website from a mobile phone. Seniors love these types of learning opportunities.

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Targeting Patients Online to Increase Patient Volume

January 25, 2010

41% of people are turning to the web first to find health information.

It goes without saying effective advertising reaches the desired target audience in their community. The question is where is your target audience’s community?

Let’s consider a few statistics.

  • Social media has overtaken porn as #1 activity on the web
  • 86% of physicians are gathering health information on the internet
  • 80% of twitter usage is on mobile devices
  • Only 18% of television campaigns generate a positive ROI and 90% of people who can TiVo through ads

It is safe to say people are no longer just living in their physical community, but their virtual community (online and mobile) as well.

The scary reality is people are “advertising” your brand if you like it or not.

25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content. Even scarier 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 14% trust advertisement.

Meaning even if your target does read your advertising message, it doesn’t have as great of an impact as the user-generated content.

The technology part of social media is a commodity—it is the content which creates the competitive advantage.

Successful companies today act more like party planners, aggregators and content providers. Take the over tens of millions of reviews on Amazon.com. That amount of user-generated content makes competing with Amazon very difficult for competitors even though the technology is widely available.

So how do you evolve your marketing strategy to take into account the projected $500 million m-commerce (mobile phone) in 2009?

Don’t panic! Take a look at where your target audience’s community is and create a comprehensive strategy (digital, experiential, traditional & publicity) which reaches them in this community with relevant messages.

Remember, more than ever content is King especially if your customers disseminate it.

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