Patients and their caregivers have continued to embrace their roles as consumers across the healthcare ecosystem. Legislation like the Pricing Transparency Act and 21 Century Cures Act have shifted the power of information to the patient. From tailored experiences to user-friendly care platforms, patients and their care team are demanding more of their healthcare providers.
These demands, in combination with a growing pool of alternative care delivery options, have challenged providers to reimagine their experience, marketing, and go-to-market strategies to improve patient engagement. More than ever before the consumer needs to be at the center of healthcare.
As a result, progressive healthcare organizations are now seeking go-to-market professionals that understand the importance of the consumer in driving organizational growth. The following blog post examines this increasingly important role within healthcare and shares four strategic priorities of marketers and go-to-market executives focused on improving consumer engagement within an evolving industry.
Using Data to Truly Understand Target Population
First, it’s critical to think more widely about everyone involved in the patient journey. In most cases, it’s not only the patient, but the full “care team,” which may consist of family, home health caregivers, etc. that should also be considered healthcare consumers. Understanding your current, target, and overall addressable patient and care team population is critical to fully optimize your marketing strategies and tactics.
Whitney Baldwin, who helps clients define their patient-centricity strategies and tactics at a leading consulting firm commented, “Data analysis is imperative to addressing segmentation and generating insights. Frequently, data is in silos and may have gaps, including social determinants of health [(SDOH), tracking health outcomes, etc. Providers need to get to integrating and synthesizing data to gain key insights that drive action. Different types of data are key to getting a 360° view of the patient experience. Quantitative data will define the “what” and qualitative data will define the “why,” such as why patients do (or do not) do the right things for their care (e.g., missing appointments). Is it a lack of childcare, work schedule, transportation?” These insights are critical to reducing “patient friction.”
Whitney expanded on the importance of understanding the data, especially as it relates to meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse population. “The reality is that 40% of the growing U.S. population is non-white. There is a significant amount of data highlighting SDOH, such as race, education, community, economic situation, etc. These social factors impact expectations and how patients and caregivers experience care. When looking at outcome data, 60% are attributed to social factors with 20% being genetic and only 20% being medical.”
Clearly these social determinants of health significantly impact how segments of the patient population consume healthcare. Understanding how to engage with different segments of the population and ongoing social listening can result in improved patient engagement and health outcomes.
Prioritizing Reviews, Referrals & Recommendations
As healthcare continues to evolve into a commercial market and patient access to information increases, healthcare leaders should consider new ways to showcase “the voice of the consumer” via patient and caregiver reviews and testimonials. Consumer review hosting platforms like Google and Facebook, as well as provider-focused platforms like Healthgrades, encourage patients to increasingly utilize online platforms to share and gain insights into providers. As a result, healthcare organizations should ensure their company profiles are actively maintained and that they have resources dedicated to actively reviewing and leveraging recent and positive testimonials in their marketing materials, including their website. Promoting consumer reviews through paid search ads, across social media channels, and on your company’s website can help providers gain credibility among consumers, outrank competitors, and drive market share growth.
The implementation of a post-visit consumer review strategy is one way that many healthcare organizations are keeping reviews current, optimizing the capture of patient and caregiver feedback, and effectively course correcting (when necessary) to reduce negative and potentially detrimental reviews and feedback. Review strategies can be run much more efficiently and effectively today due to the availability of enabling technology to automate this process via texts, emails, and as part of the in-office discharge process. Regardless of how reviews are captured, today’s consumer relies heavily on the recommendation of others when deciding where to receive care just as they do with all consumer buying decisions.
Optimizing the User Experience
Technology advancements have fundamentally changed patient engagement throughout the care process. From mobile apps to live chats and patient portals, delivering an immersive and seamless customer experience should be top of mind for healthcare executives. Patients today demand a user-friendly experience that simplifies and streamlines communications with the provider. Subsequently, executives should look to consumer marketing models as a guidebook for optimizing engagement. Opportunities, such as creating a visually appealing website, simplifying platform navigation tools, and automating patient notifications, can have a significant impact on increasing transparency and accountability in the care process. Ultimately, highly engaged patients tend to have better outcomes, remain committed to their care provider, and serve as a primary referral source for new patients.
According to Chris Brunson, Founder & CEO of PEC360, “The consumerization of healthcare will require healthcare organizations to adopt technologies that can retain, manage, and motivate their patients to seek the healthcare they need.” In his role as CEO of PEC360, Chris has seen the implementation of AI-based technology drive significant improvement in cancellation rates, missed appointments, and recapture. The impact is increased revenue, higher patient satisfaction scores, and optimal user experience.
Know the Competition
We have witnessed significant changes to the competitive landscape of healthcare providers in the last couple of years. The boom of telehealth due to the pandemic and ongoing healthcare system consolidation has changed how patients consume healthcare services. The hyper growth of retail providers, such as CVS Minute Clinic/ Health Hub and Village MDs collaboration with Walgreens, have transformed primary care and have forced healthcare companies to reimagine how they attract and engage patients. Additionally, an increasing focus on ‘at home’ care models are re-shaping how providers better meet the needs of patients through the care continuum. Developing a strong brand identity that can ensure patient trust should be top of mind going forward. As disruptors with strong consumer loyalty continue to capture market share, a strategic marketing playbook will emerge as a top priority for healthcare executives.
Identifying commercial leaders that are capable of bringing both deep knowledge of consumer marketing approaches and an understanding of the specific complexities of healthcare is critical to patient engagement in today’s market. Prioritizing the following in your commercial plan and next hire can help ensure the long-term growth of your business:
- Embrace consumer centric commercial techniques and strategies to maximize connectivity with patients and their care team.
- Leverage data to improve and adjust your go-to-market strategy and course of action.
- Be intentional in the development of a patient engagement strategy – include social outlets, user experience, and feedback in your plan.
- Always be aware of the changing competitive landscape and competing priorities of the consumer, payers, and providers – it is key to success.
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