We recently attended the 2017 NESHCo conference (New England Society for Healthcare Communications) and heard some great thoughts and ideas about communicating with consumers in our rapidly changing healthcare marketplace. This year’s theme was “Navigating Today’s Healthcare Environment,” and here are some takes on relevant issues that caught our attention.

1. Pricing – Consumers are placing more importance on payments and cost messaging, but they don’t understand how healthcare pricing works and don’t feel like they have any control. Patients are exposed to “generic narratives of pricing” due to variances among providers and insurers. Consumers are also getting inconsistent information about the relationship between value and quality.

(Paul Griffiths, MedTouch and Robert Wasserman, Hallmark Health)

2. Customer Journey Mapping – Journey mapping informs marketers about the touch points that most influence consumer choice and what the ideal customer activation and acquisition experience looks like. It all starts with understanding customer personas and how to tell stories that help engage with them at their “moments of truth.” Journey mapping that delivers strong ROI requires a collaboration between marketing and operations that ultimately creates repeat customers and brand advocates. Today, more often than not, a customer’s healthcare journey begins online. The important factors of the consumer process to understand are:

  • Actions
  • Motivations
  • Questions
  • Obstacles
  • Endorsements

(Carla Bryant, Corrigan Consulting)

3. Understanding Consumer Emotion – Science shows that the part of the brain that controls emotion reacts at a much faster pace to pictures, colors and emotions and that these impressions produce better memory recall. Women make the majority of health care decisions for others (59 percent), but they often lack confidence in the decisions they are making due to hectic schedules, lack of reliable information and a general sense of distrust in the industry. So we must become more relationship-based in our efforts … the “Know-Like-Trust Factor”. Ways to do this include:

  • Personalizing physician bios
  • Telling stories
  • Making consumers feel empowered
  • Making social media authentic, empathetic and interesting

(Kirsten Lecky, Writer Girl)

4. Campaigns – To set key performance indicators (KPIs), start with clarifying the purpose of the marketing campaign. What is the strategic initiative? Is it in response to a competitive threat? To increase capacity? Clarify KPIs in terms of new patients, patient retention, physician recruitment, etc. Executing a quality campaign takes time, so give it the commitment it needs. Content is still most valued by healthcare consumers.

(Paul Griffiths, MedTouch and Robert Wasserman, Hallmark Health)

5. Content – Start by gathering relevant information based on the target audience, then establish tone and POV. Appoint “blog champions” within the organization. Commit consistent time and resources. Increase the content life cycle by telling captivating stories that retain value and can be retold. Engaging content survives many uses. Focus on what your patients and providers are talking about. A Hallmark Health blog about a patient who overcame an opioid addiction led to a 258% increase in readership from the previous month.

(Paul Griffiths, MedTouch and Robert Wasserman, Hallmark Health)

6. Big Data – People are still stumped by digital media. There is the “creepiness” factor and misconceptions about the difficulty of HIPPA compliance. CRM is used for population health, patient education, predictive modeling and target segmentation. Its adoption is driven by the size of the enterprise. When utilized, it enables engagement, e.g., medical records, billing records, class registrations, website/campaign data, personas, demographics, etc. Some health systems are using digital metrics to segment their direct mail lists based on those who are most likely to read their newsletter.

(Theresa Komitas, KishHealth System and Eric Silberman, True North Custom)

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