One of the biggest challenges for healthcare providers is making sure the caregivers surrounding a patient are all on the same page. While a healthcare provider and a caregiver might have the same goals in mind — better health for the patient — they often have drastically different ways of making that happen.
As a healthcare marketer, you can play a big role in raising awareness to close that gap between how essential medical advice merges with actual caregiver beliefs and behaviors that might interfere with following that advice. Consider this kind of marketing as an extension of the basic personas you already include in your audience as well as an essential part of the consumer journey for the full spectrum of your audience.
When you consider the best methods of distributing healthcare information, you probably already recognize that patients rarely make decisions in a vacuum. The same is true whether they're choosing a new provider or facility or choosing next steps after a diagnosis. An intimate circle of family members, friends, and other caregivers influence how a healthcare consumer receives and follows instructions, navigates follow-up appointments, and even incorporates healthy lifestyle choices into daily schedules. Often, these decisions are made within the context of cultural influences as well.
Effective marketing practices recognize the breadth of diversity in an organization's audience and have an understanding of the cultural norms within those demographics. Collecting and using data from forms completed on your website, a healthcare CRM, or even third-party consumer data sources can tell you more about the cultures and ethnicities (and equally important information such as age and typical living or household situations) of your audience. In the Joint Commission's report Hospitals, Language, and Culture: A Snapshot of the Nation, specific data collection is noted as an essential foundation from which to provide healthcare information in a culturally appropriate way. With information about “race, ethnicity, language, culture, and learning needs," you can then gather additional information regarding issues like family dynamics, religious beliefs, cultural or regional taboos, modesty and privacy, and even beliefs about diet or healthcare treatments within a culture.
With this information, marketers create materials that reach and inform the primary healthcare consumer and as well as all the people who have input into that person's care. Having an authentic understanding of how the target group considers, talks about, and moves forward with healthcare decisions and processes is a key factor in creating campaigns that strike a genuine cord with the audience. The Office of Minority Health and the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association, offer resources and guidelines that you can use to determine how marketing can be used as an effective and important tool in delivering healthcare information to diverse groups in ways that are authentic and, therefore, trusted.
For example, families raised with traditionally Eastern influences and beliefs may rely on a strong family unit to make healthcare decisions for one person. With a family unit, or even an individual head of household, holding great influence in major decisions for family members, you must be aware that any educational or informative materials will be considered by not just the patient but also those who help with decisions. In families where traditional food is an essential and entwined part of the day-to-day life, adhering to dietary restrictions can be almost impossible if the person doing most of the cooking doesn't fully understand the required change in diet or is unfamiliar with specific foods or preparation requirements (for instance low-salt or low-cholesterol foods).
When you understand the values and expectations of your target audience, you're better able to develop and implement campaigns that are accepted and appreciated and will lead to improved healthcare outcomes. For instance, developing materials to help adapt cooking styles, to address complementary therapies, or to help language barrier issues shows your organization understands the common obstacles and will develop strategies with the healthcare consumer and their caregivers to bring about improved outcomes.
Diversify your channels
Culturally sensitive marketing also considers the different channels consumers might use. While some cultures might be well-connected through social media and online channels, others will do better with printed information (in the primary and secondary languages of the consumer) to bring home. Seminars might appeal to those who value personal communications and will help establish a foundation for educating consumers about the areas of most critical concern. And the power of the spoken word is still apparent with some audiences where a short video, radio advertisement, or television commercial with targeted and appropriate language might reverberate more than anything else.
When your team has developed a spot-on campaign targeted to a specific audience, the next step is a market-specific test run. Gather a diverse group and get an assessment of the language use (ideally, someone who has native proficiency in a language will read any materials), the intended values, and the message in whole.
When the messages are genuine and culturally sensitive, your campaign will strike an authentic note with your audience.
This kind of personalized marketing will not only help improve outcomes for your consumers in the long-term, it will also increase their satisfaction with your organization when they feel seen and heard.
Want to know more about personalization in healthcare marketing? Download our guide.