Posted: November 2, 2017

Healthcare has been in the news more than its fair share this year, but beyond any potential or discussed change in legislation, we do know one thing: value based care isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, it’s expanding.

What initially emerged as a shift in approach to provider reimbursement has spread across the industry and now represents a much more comprehensive approach to care and patient well-being. Today, we’re hearing value based care intersect with concepts like consumer experience, patient experience, chronic disease management, and social determinants of health. Basically, value based care is getting bigger, which means the content on your hospital website needs to move in the same direction.

If we’re being honest, healthcare encounters within the physical walls of your facility, and increasingly digital touch points as well, are extremely content-heavy. Information is being collected, exchanged, and interpreted, and thankfully, many organizations have made some significant strides in wrapping their content strategy around that exchange. There’s one particularly content-dense area though, that is simultaneously critical and confounding for patients, and that’s the period right after a procedure.

From challenges around post-discharge care to a medication non-adherence problem that can be described as “epidemic,” the span of time after a procedure is a space where providers have amazing opportunity to leverage content and improve outcomes for their patients. Beyond improving care, this kind of content strategy can improve patient satisfaction and healthcare consumer experience as well…but what does that look like?

Let’s take a look at five ways healthcare marketers can help to create value for patients after a procedure.

Clear and Flexible Discharge/Post-Appointment Instructions
The period after an appointment is one of the most important content moments in the care process, but unfortunately, patients are frequently left to navigate a thick stack of documents littered with medical jargon, confusing medications lists, and hospital literature all on their own. This is a great place for healthcare marketing departments to get involved.

Apply the same skills marketers utilize to develop web content or marketing campaigns to ensure discharge instructions are readable, use large fonts and minimal jargon, and are written in a way that’s simple for patients and caregivers to navigate. Medication lists should explain what each item is for and clearly outline when and how to administer it. It’s important to acknowledge the basic rules of content creation, and make sure that instructions take health literacy levels into account, and align with a providers’ discharge process.

And don’t forget to be creative! Patients live in a multi-channel world, so offering instructions in different formats, such as via tablets or online after a visit, can be incredibly effective. Keep in mind that from retail, to banking, to air travel, patients have been conditioned to expect a seamless, straightforward consumer experience. While healthcare is seldom simple, we do have a lot of room to make things easier for every stakeholder in the process.

Condition-Specific Information
Yes, one third of adults in the U.S. jump on sites like WebMD to access information about or diagnose a medical condition, but the information they find is disconnected from the competent providers that will be delivering the care they need.

Hospital websites have particular opportunity here to answer patient questions and integrate site content as a gateway to a customer experience platform that runs the length of the care relationship. Every provider doesn’t have to become the next Healthline, but can still leverage the opportunity to provide smart, competent education through customer-centered healthcare content around their most common procedures and conditions.

Opt-In Communication
From preventive care to maintenance of chronic conditions, patients are living out their healthcare every day, and their healthcare consumer experience should reflect that. Healthcare marketing teams have the opportunity to get ahead of patient needs and push content to everybody’s home base online — email accounts.

Newsletters can give patients the opportunity to take charge of their well-being as well as give care providers another tool to encourage preventive care and consumer engagement. Best of all, the flexibility of email opens up the door to the opportunities to promote community events, improve the patient financial experience, and facilitate provider and hospital CRM all around.

Investment in the email channel though, is about more than just distributing information. It will require content creation that is mindful of getting and keeping patient attention and strategically focused on providing consistent and targeted value. Consumers, after all, need a reason to keep opening messages.

Stories That Connect
Healthcare stories are some of the most engaging and powerful out there.

They’re moving, powerful, and most importantly, personal. This is especially true on a local level where website visitors can connect not only with a patient testimonial that addresses the same health challenges they’re navigating, but also with the lives your providers have worked so hard to improve.

Well-built patient stories, from testimonials to reviews, nurture trust and encourage connection with your facilities and the services you offer. Effective patient stories should go beyond the clinical experience and connect with the lives your patients have seen disrupted and re-established post treatment. Keep in mind that it’s critical to keep these stories as relevant as possible to the human side of the patient experience. (The Mayo Clinic provides some great examples of that technique.)

Billing Education and Explanation
Sometimes the driest content is the most impactful.

Hospital billing is probably the most convoluted and complex payment scheme your consumers encounter. This means that there’s acres of opportunity to improve the payment experience.

Billing statements can be used as marketing and education tools unto themselves. They hold particular opportunity because it’s almost guaranteed that statements will be read. (Some hospitals have estimated an open rate of 95 percent or higher.) Hospitals can take advantage of that attention by clearly explaining financial obligations and also using statements as a gateway into other healthcare content initiatives by driving patients to websites and social media platforms.

Perhaps more than anything, it’s critical to keep in mind that building value in healthcare is a layered process that requires looking beyond traditional approaches and stepping into a new age of content creation that connects and engages readers at all points during the care process.

Need help getting started on creating engaging healthcare content? This article will help.