The health care industry has and will continue to change at a breakneck pace, forcing marketing professionals in this space to adjust accordingly. As the delivery model switches from traditional hospitals to outpatient centers, even telehealth, mainstream advertising no longer is enough to increase patient volume and offset decreasing reimbursement rates.
Chris Madsen, who founded Mad 4 Marketing in 1992, has provided successful marketing strategies for many of South Florida’s health care giants, including Broward Health and their individual areas of specialty like the Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital, and Baptist Health. She offers four key marketing tenets for supporting health care providers:
Create a brand that resonates with the consumer.
While conducting a “Brand Discovery Session” with Baptist, Mad 4 Marketing identified their unique selling proposition and developed the tagline, “Get Treated Better.” They also renamed the “Medical Plazas” to “Urgent Care and Diagnostic Centers” to be more recognizable for patients. This drove a campaign to increase awareness, which was successful in increasing traffic to the existing 14 locations, launching a new children’s diagnostic center, as well as introducing Baptist into Broward County.
Physician referrals are essential.
Not always first of mind in traditional marketing plans, a robust physician relations program is a key aspect of any marketing program designed to increase patient volume. When the Mad 4 Marketing team designed such a program for the Broward Health Heart Center of Excellence, they knew it had to be more than pretty pictures. “We not only designed a package that looked nice,” she said. “We created an operational flow that ensured the entire process would be easier for any physician referring a patient to the Center.”
All staff members are ambassadors.
Including all levels of the staff in a marketing strategy can make the difference between a campaign that delivers results and one that flops. Madsen remembers one integrated marketing strategy her team implemented for a major South Florida hospital system that included creating a “manifesto” for everyone from top executives to the front desk team members to embrace. “Engaging employees, especially those most directly in contact with patients, was key to achieving specific objectives,” she stressed.
The days of simply producing ADDY®-award winning print and broadcast ads are long gone. Today’s marketing efforts have to touch on a wide range of areas, including social media, both paid and organic; thought leadership tactics, such as blogs, speeches, webinars and published articles; media relations; community outreach; physician relations; employer and payor relations; and strategic trade association activities.
One area that has not changed over the decades, however, according to Madsen, is the need to align with the provider’s overall business strategies and the vision of leadership. “Like patients who need individualized treatment plans, health care providers demand marketing programs that highlight their differentiators and reach target audiences.”