No matter what your specialties are, most healthcare groups have had two common experiences during COVID-19: A newfound reliance on fast, effective physician engagement and a pressing need to rebuild revenue streams – which means rebuilding patient trust.
Where was revenue most impacted by the coronavirus, and how can you work with providers to recover it?
In this webinar, Shahid Shah, co-founder of Citus Health and publisher of Netspective Media’s digital health properties, joins David Elstein, senior communications specialist for the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, to discuss strategies for engaging providers and recouping lost revenue through reputation improvements and digital tools.
In a conversation with Binary Fountain EVP of Strategy & Corporate Development Andrew Rainey, they cover key platforms and channels to target for efficient patient and provider engagement. They also offer ways to communicate with providers and find business-line or marketing-based opportunities to rebuild patient trust.
Here are the key takeaways:
Patient Concerns and COVID-19’s Impact on Revenue
For patients now, there is a general reluctance to visit facilities that they weren’t already trusting of. It’s a good time to survey patients, not necessarily to win them back immediately, but to find out if they trust your facilities and operations.
Measuring how patients feel after they come to your providers is key to understanding patients’ preferences. Generating new customer feedback can help ascertain what healthcare consumers are thinking and what they’re worried about, giving you the chance to address and solve those problems.
Healthcare marketers also must consider the people influencing their patients’ care decisions. You need patients to feel good about visiting your facilities and providers, but you also need to make their communities and families feel good about it.
Shah puts it this way: “If you don’t account for the influencers, you won’t move the needle on a lot of your patients.”
Even as consumer behavior shifts, what has worked in terms of marketing communications will continue to work – but more technologies and opportunities will add to the mix.
“As long as you have a good plan,” Elstein says, “you don’t need to completely change your marketing communications.”
If your digital marketing efforts have so far done well to educate patients, COVID-19 has supplied a broader online audience to reach. If your online initiatives weren’t already strong, the ability to quickly switch to a digital-front-door strategy is necessary to compete in 2021.
Engaging Physicians and Building Patient Trust
The name of the game is over-communication, according to the panelists. Health – especially now – is important enough that people want to know about all the steps related to their visit and care. The same applies to providers, who need to be contacted through their preferred channels about safety measures and new processes.
At the same time, you can’t assume that your safety precautions and changes in customer experience are obvious, Shah says, echoing the thoughts of Jay Baer in our June webinar.
“What’s not working is assuming that you’re so important that you don’t have to explain to patients why they need to schedule an appointment even with COVID-19 happening.”
Again, solving those issues starts with patient feedback.
Surveys can tell you in clear terms what the main concerns of patients are. Recent, unbiased feedback data helps you understand “why” patients make different care decisions. Once you have the “why,” it will be clear what they want to hear from your healthcare brand.
Messaging, Digital Tools and Online Reputation
The most important piece of healthcare brand communications at the moment is carrying a two-way conversation.
Messaging is the best place to start, with SMS text messages specifically performing well for open rates and conversions. Looking forward, if you can get a chatbot on your website, you should.
Email still has significant return on investment for a small budget, and social media tied to custom content is highly effective for communicating with both providers and patients. Podcasts, meanwhile, are a great way for long-form educational content that is easy to produce.
Many health systems are launching mobile campaigns to drive new reviews to their own websites and to third-party review sites. Patients want to see recent reviews, so it’s important to find ways to generate authentic testimonials – especially if you had low review volume before the pandemic.
“Even with uncertainty around the virus,” Shah says, “we can trust brands that other people trust. And that is now even more important.”
Read more about COVID-19’s impact on healthcare marketing:
- Tracking Coronavirus Search Trends on Google – August 2020
- 8 Steps to Rewire Customer Relationships Disrupted by the Pandemic (ft. Jay Baer)
- Lessons from COVID-19: Using Local Business Listings for Crisis Management
- Survey: How COVID-19 is Shifting Priorities for Healthcare Marketers
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist