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Marketing with a Mission: 3 Components of a Mission-Driven Hospital Marketing Mindset [PART 2 of 2]

Posted in Articles | 5 min read

“Championing a true understanding of the human condition and spending time with and understanding the lived experiences of the community we serve as healthcare marketers are the only ways to elevate marketing investments to make a true impact on the health of the community and the economics of care that drive profitability and better health outcomes over the long haul.”

—David McDonald, Healthcare Ethnographer and Hospital Marketing Strategist

In our previous installment, we explored how enlightened healthcare marketing professionals are investing in programs and initiatives that are mission-driven—enabling them to impact positive financial, clinical, and strategic outcomes for their hospitals while simultaneously educating and empowering a more competent and loyal consumer community.

To that end, we asked readers to ask themselves (and their marketing agencies) to consider the following questions:

Are your objectives aligned with the priority of improving the health and well-being of the community? Or, are you just driving the best patients to the right service lines with little understanding of the human condition at ground level?

So how does your hospital marketing agency’s program stack up?

Consider the following.

The Three Imperatives of Mission-Based Healthcare Marketing

  1. Impact clinical volumes and positive financial outcomes for the organization.
  2. Seek to understand the consumer through a human-centered and empathic lens.
  3. Educate and empower consumers to play an active role in their own health and well-being, thereby nurturing competency and loyalty.

Your first priority?

Impact clinical volumes and positive financial outcomes for the organization.

To accomplish this, many organizations rely heavily on digital marketing and data-driven targeting protocols, segmenting patients into indistinguishable data points to target and attract them to a service offering and then to use online scheduling, check-in and follow-up tools. Many view these tools as the foundation of a patient experience. A useful exercise for one dimension of direct marketing, for sure, but not the most potent exercise for the long game.

Healthcare marketing with a mission goes deeper than the online patient experience—or follow-up questionnaires that result in more and more quantitative data points. Healthcare marketing with a mission means championing the human experience and looking for a deeper level of consumer understanding that comes with qualitative data.

Your second priority?

Seeking to understand the consumer through a human-centered and empathic lens.

You undoubtedly are inundated with data from patient surveys; satisfaction results; from digital tools; reviews; digital footprints; interactions with the health system EHR; and so on. Not a bad thing … patient data can show trends and help targeting, but can it tell a story? No, it cannot—at least not the kind of story that connects on a human level and empowers.

Without deeper insights and human understanding at ground level, data points exist on an island—turning humans into indistinguishable data points. Numbers are not empathic. Numbers  don’t paint the picture of a patient’s life, their struggles, or even underlying social factors that may eventually lead to their engagement with your hospital. You need to know what makes someone tick, what drives them to the decisions they make.

Patients behave the way they behave for a reason. Hospitals must seek to understand that reason. Pursue the patient conversations that bring light to someone’s needs, motivations, and fears. Patient understanding and real-life stories, gleaned from face-to-face conversations, add important context to quantitative data and valuable velocity to strategy and creative.

Your third priority?

Educate and empower consumers to play an active role in their own health and well-being, thereby nurturing competency and loyalty.

Consumer marketing is, by and large, transactional—generally a simple transaction with little friction or pitfalls. But despite the fact that healthcare consumers are more complex, most of the digital tools we use remain very transactional—schedule and reschedule appointments; view test results; engage in low-fidelity communications with healthcare providers; refill a prescription; pay a bill; share proxy access with loved ones; review discharge summaries and medical records; appointment check-in; et cetera. And while those transactions are, again, not all bad, they miss the mark when it comes to genuine empathic engagement through understanding.

Is it possible that, while we have an individual’s attention, we can do more than just move them closer to scheduling or searching and evaluating providers? What if we were able to move people toward well-being? Go beyond unsympathetic hard-selling and one-way messages that promote a service line or facilitate shallow digital engagements. We can share messages with consumers that promote forward-thinking, healthy behaviors and position the hospital as a trusted provider not just of services but of valuable information that helps a patient play an active role in their own health and well-being—engaging with, educating, and empowering a more competent healthcare consumer.

So how? Knowing all of this … how do you do it?

Think big, start small, and start.

Begin with empathy, and then fold in data. You can engage, educate, and empower healthcare consumers to make better choices—you just have to start with human understanding.

  1. Leverage ethnography and qualitative insights into your strategy.
  2. Learn and understand daily routines, friction points, and challenges—not just the digital journey.
  3. Target patients through a lens of understanding based on their needs, motivations, fears, beliefs and hopes.
  4. Plan and create content and messages that go beyond a particular service line or offering—connect and empower.
  5. Create messaging that moves patients to make better choices and fuels competency as well as awareness.

When we start to listen to patient stories, we get a deeper and more nuanced understanding of what drives their decision-making processes. When we engage consumers through marketing with health education, and not just service-line promotion, we provide value and improve consumer competency. It’s your (and your agency’s) charge to empower patients with relevant and accessible health information that meets them where they are in their lives—not just in a moment of immediate need, but throughout their lived experience and well-being journey.

LIFT is a healthcare marketing agency on a mission—your mission.

Re-imagine your approach to healthcare marketing to go beyond traditional, one-way communications about your brand and service lines. When you choose to educate your consumers with healthcare content that is relevant, engaging, and accountable, you will not only achieve business objectives, but you will impact the well-being of the community you serve.

At LIFT, we help our clients embed that mission in every piece of content, in every outreach, and in every healthcare marketing campaign that represents their healthcare organization. It’s our mission to understand the community you serve through a lens of human understanding, anthropology, inclusivity, and diversity. When we partner with clients for research and marketing strategy, we help build the patient stories that not only fuel impactful content and marketing strategies, but that also improve the well-being of the communities they serve.

So, champion the mission. Capture real patient perspectives, tell relevant stories, and work within your agency to confidently frame a healthcare marketing program that leverages intelligence, empathy, and understanding to support your hospital’s mission—while also impacting business, financial, and clinical goals. This is the way of the future.