Each year the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) publishes a survey benchmarking hospital and health systems’ marketing and communications staffing, budget, effort, and more. The report shines a light on the variety of efforts marketers like you are engaged in, across the country, and can serve to help show your organization how your marketing teams stack up against the competition in the broadest terms.

This year’s report of full of data on the state of healthcare marketing today, whether you’re a team of 1 in a rural hospital or a team of 75 in a large hospital network. But, with our 21+ years’ experience working with healthcare marketers, helping organizations of all types create engaging consumer experiences online, we’ve got some opinions about where the report has things right, and where there’s room for improvement. Surprising, I know.

What’s Right:

  • Responsibilities
    • The fact that 86% of marketing and communications team are responsible for market research shows the huge need for strategy across all kinds of healthcare organizations.
  • Outsourcing
    • More and more content creation is required to keep up with today’s consumer demands. Partnering with outside vendors, like many organizations are today, to create content could help ease some of that burden.
    • Advertising services were the most likely to be outsourced, with the largest budget attached as well. Just be sure that your vendor partners have true healthcare experience to help you keep up with the fluctuations in search, social, and beyond that make a difference to healthcare consumers.
  • Technology
    • Even though budgets are tight, most organizations have realized that technology tools for data management, analytics, marketing automation, personalization, and more are essential to success today. Plus, emerging predictive analytics capabilities are on everyone’s radar, whether they’re in use yet or not.
  • Ratings and Reviews
    • Everyone realizes these online sentiments need to be monitored, though the survey doesn’t ask who’s seeking help for this monumental task.
  • ROI Calculation
    • Gone are the days of marketing without proof of effectiveness. Budgets are tight, and most marketers realize that proving they’re driving volume through campaigns or other efforts helps prove their team’s worth to your organization. As with everything, data is essential for this capability.

What’s Wrong:

  • Responsibilities
    • 77% of organizations put customer relationship management software in the hands of marketing departments. This isn’t all wrong, but we have seen an increase in cross-functional involvement in CRM technology evaluation and use. With the amount of data and sophistication of analytics and predictive modeling that best-in-class healthcare CRMs can offer, using this technology beyond the marketing department helps you get more use out of your investment while improving the health of your population.
    • Customer service and patient experience management responsibility has dropped from 21% since 2013 to 9% today. Marketing teams have a lot on their plates, but ignoring this essential part of the healthcare consumer journey, and how patient experience feeds into patient loyalty, is a strategic mistake.
  • Advertising budgets
    • Surprisingly, traditional channels like television, newspaper, and outdoor billboards still take up a majority of most healthcare organizations’ advertising budgets. Without right-siding your budget to reflect consumer preference for online experiences – they want to search for and find health information, provider and facility information, and more on search, social, your own websites, and beyond – you’ll be struggling to catch up with the organizations that have seized this opportunity to reach and engage consumers in the moments they’re looking for care.
  • Ratings and Reviews
    • Few organizations are including ratings and review tools on their websites currently, and only slightly more have plans to publish public reviews on their own sites. Consumers expect transparency around physician performance and value, and they’ll seek this information elsewhere, even from your competitors, if you don’t share it yourself.

There’s a lot to do, and most organizations are working across a variety of channels, with a variety of technology tools, to accomplish complex goals around driving volume and improving population health simultaneously. Take this report and learn from it, but also look forward to where there’s room to grow.

Want to discuss healthcare marketing, healthcare consumer experience, and effective strategy more? Visit us at #SHSMD18, booth 801.