Posted: August 31, 2017

Quick question: Can you remember the name of the nurse who helped deliver your baby? What about the doctor who repaired your broken arm? Can you still name the staff who helped care for your mom in her later years? For most people, these intimate (though short-term) relationships are very memorable. We remember because it’s personal. And healthcare, by its very nature, is personal.

But healthcare is also undergoing tremendous change. Every day a new headline crops up, which means an already competitive industry is becoming even more so. To keep up, hospital marketers everywhere are implementing strategies to improve patient and consumer experiences as they work to increase awareness and grow their business.

Because the healthcare industry is full of stress, confusion, strange words, complicated systems, and high cost for consumers, as marketers we have to figure out how to ease those pain points, to reach through the noise with relevant messages that help our consumers move toward better health decision making. As consumers actively research symptoms, diagnoses, costs, and providers online, we need to understand where they are in their journeys to know how to most effectively talk to them. We need empathy.

Empathy Helps You Be Memorable, Consistent, and Trustworthy in Healthcare Marketing:

1. First impressions matter. Communicate clearly using common, every day words. Marketers get a deserved bad rap for using jargon that’s foreign to most people. Your websites, campaigns, and collateral materials need to be easy to navigate and resonate with all levels of understanding. Remember, consumers seek healthcare when they’re vulnerable. They may not know how to communicate their needs or are uncomfortable with answering very personal questions on an HRA they came across on Facebook. Keeping the consumer’s feelings and needs top-of-mind when crafting campaigns and website landing pages to promote service lines and procedures will help you navigate the sensitive landscape of certain conditions and diagnoses. When creating personalized campaigns and messaging on your website, remember that too personal on the web can come across as creepy. Focus on where you can offer value to your consumers, like displaying location-based targeting banners. That first impression makes the difference in whether someone makes the next click or abandons your site to find another provider.

2. Consistency matters. Once you’ve reached someone through a social ad, does the landing page they reach on your website match in look, tone, and content? Are you delivering on your promise to “schedule now”? Be respectful of your consumer’s time and feelings. Do you understand where bottlenecks occur in the consumer journey and can you address them with staff or technology? Call Centers and schedulers should be trained on clear communications, the best resources for further information, appropriate phone numbers, directions to different facilities, etc. Requests to schedule or be contacted should be followed up on as soon as possible or within 24 hours at a maximum. Conversion rates for calls to appointments increase 44% when followed up on within those 24 hours. Keeping the patient’s experience in mind can help you maintain consistency across touch points.

3. Being trustworthy matters. Becoming a consumer’s trusted health resource and staying top-of-mind isn’t something you can buy with endless budget. You have to earn it. Start with a deep understanding of your audience and market. When you understand a majority of your consumers have to drive a long time to get to your primary facility, can you promote outpatient clinics or standalone ERs to offer more convenience? Are you promoting your bariatrics procedures to an audience that you’ve already educated on the process or are you taking the time to segment and promote introductory seminars to new patients? Awareness of your patient’s preferences and concerns can help you craft more personal campaigns and messaging that will build trust and help create loyal consumers over time.

At some point in your life, you’ve probably been a patient and if you haven’t you will be, use these personal experiences and preferences and think about how you’d like to be talked to as a patient to help you reach and engage consumers more effectively. Empathy will be your true differentiator.

Want to learn more about effectively engaging healthcare consumers? Read our white paper, Healthcare Consumer Experience in 2017.