The HMPS 2020 Virtual Summit had to occur online due to COVID-19, but its advice and takeaways are real and tangible.
The virtual summit took place Aug. 18-20, with dozens of keynote speakers and breakout sessions discussing the latest in healthcare marketing, digital communications and reputation management.
As the coronavirus spread in 2020, healthcare marketing activities and budgets were sharply curtailed. Tactics shifted to earned and owned media revolving around local listings, crisis management and education. Over three days, HMPS 2020 speakers broke down that shift and what it means for marketers going forward.
Notable presenting companies included Healthgrades, Kyruus, Greystone.Net, True North Custom, Accenture and DocASAP. They were joined by some of the U.S. healthcare industry’s top players, including Cleveland Clinic, St. Luke’s Health System, Geisinger, Ascension, AdventHealth, Mount Sinai Health System and Banner Health.
Some of the healthcare marketing topics covered were:
- Interactive and digital strategies
- Taking control of the online conversation
- Using marketing technology for patient experience and growth
- Investing in healthcare marketing and communications
- Vendors, insourcing vs. outsourcing and KPIs
Below is a recap of key takeaways from the HMPS 2020 Virtual Summit, with frameworks and advice for healthcare consumerism, reputation management, mobile engagement, content marketing and digital technology.
Healthcare Consumerism Center Stage at HMPS 2020
The main headline: Healthcare marketing is being forced to embrace consumerism. Retail players are making bigger moves into the healthcare and provider space than ever, so health systems and hospitals need to be “commerce-ready.”
A major focus going forward will be on the business of running hospitals and clinics to fend off the health-retail entrants entering the market. CVS is expanding its Minute Clinic in scope and scale, Walgreens spent $1 billion to launch VillageMD in its pharmacies, and Walmart is creating health centers and launching a Medicare Advantage plan.
Geisinger VP of System Marketing and Brand Jeff Bean puts it this way: “The Netflix-Blockbuster moment is happening right now for health networks and hospitals.”
These retail-type entrants to healthcare might benefit community health, but will certainly take a cut from hospitals and regional health systems. Making retail health familiar to the consumer services we already have today, through peer-to-peer marketing strategies, is key to competing.
It’s easy for healthcare marketers to lose sight of the consumerism angle, with layers of insurance and regulations between providers and patients. But consumers are now reporting the biggest priority in healthcare is the personalization of care.
Marketers need to look at patients as consumers with personal preferences, and give them choices in the patient journey. Healthcare can learn from other industries – like retail and banking – about how to personalize these consumer experiences.
Reputation Management in Healthcare
Healthcare consumerism and online reputation management go hand in hand. Brands that simplify consumer decision making are 115% more likely to be recommended, says Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Megan Pruce. Similarly, 64% of consumers more likely to recommend a brand because it’s simple.
Health systems are behind the retail industry in terms of consumer-journey tracking, but there is sufficient patient feedback data available to make strides and compete with large consumer players. Marketers need to use survey and review data to guide choices in the patient journey.
Ways to do this include displaying star ratings on location pages and physician pages, giving consumers choices about their treatment, and making it easy to read reviews and understand insurance options.
Relationships, two-way conversations and proactive patient engagement are key to creating value for patients, providers and payers alike. Plus, hospitals with higher patient satisfaction scores have higher profitability.
Looking forward, healthcare systems need to equip providers with customer experience insights that enable them to proactively engage with their patients.
A large part of reputation management is transparency, which also extends to pricing. Healthcare consumers now want to have pricing information as soon as possible, which means price transparency needs to be introduced earlier in the consumer journey.
Mobile Engagement and Evolving Content
Today’s healthcare seekers are tech-savvy and time-constrained. What follows is that patients’ digital experiences are becoming the preferred method for interacting with providers.
Customers are demanding instant communication, and for many consumers, messaging apps and social media have replaced email and phone calls. Meanwhile, healthcare marketing channels and content need to evolve to stay relevant.
One emerging channel, conversational marketing, uses live chat, chatbots, natural language processing (NLP) and social monitoring to foster genuine conversation and real relationships. It has several applications for health marketing departments:
- Finding a doctor and scheduling
- Patient portal questions
- Digital front door FAQs
- Visitor policy
- Amenity info
With that said, old communications guidelines hold true. Renown Health has this advice for COVID-19-related brand messaging: “Engage customers and tell relevant, simple, emotional stories.”
Improved patient communication means improved patient outcomes. Much of this data is available in patient reviews, where NLP can categorize reviews that mention a physician or nurse’s explanation of treatments or next steps.
For example, Stanford’s C-I-CARE framework uses relationship-based care approaches with patients, families and colleagues. Supporting the initiative is real-time feedback data, public star ratings and centralized patient experience reporting.
Technology and Vendors, According to HMPS 2020
All HMPS 2020 speakers agree that technology creates an opportunity for engagement and that every interaction in the patient journey is an opportunity for personalization.
Patient engagement technology was cited as a priority by half of all hospitals in a 2019 Gartner survey. It also forecasted that hospital IT spend will be greater than any other spend in the next five years.
Technology vendors in 2020 and beyond need to act as a staff extension, working within your brand standards and your time frame. These can be more episodic initiatives, like web development, copywriting and graphic design.
Meanwhile, successful technology partners need to have a national, best practice perspective, expertise you don’t have in-house, and a focus on improving the health care customer experience. These are long-term strategic relationships, including customer relationship management, feedback management and strategic communications.
Your technology partners and vendors need to help your healthcare brand be “always on,” with conversational platforms that meet customers where they are, when they want. Advances in AI and machine learning help these platforms provide a deep understanding of patients’ needs, and also allow for continuous improvements based on real-time feedback data.
Applying Your Knowledge from HMPS 2020
It’s clear to panelists at HMPS 2020 that brand awareness and patient experience are interconnected, working toward the ultimate growth objective of increasing patient acquisition, engagement and retention. To hit those goals in the months and years ahead, you need to deliver value to patients and cultivate a strong online reputation.
As summed up in the virtual summit’s final keynote session: “Value today is volume tomorrow.”
Binary Fountain’s unified customer experience platform equips you with the business intelligence you need to provide maximum value to patients. Book a free demo today to learn how we can analyze your patient feedback, generate reviews, engage consumers online and automate your healthcare marketing operations.
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