A growing number of healthcare organizations are leveraging telehealth technologies to increase access to care for their patients, lower costs, improve outcomes and enhance the patient experience. The definition of telehealth is the use of telecommunications and information technologies to share information, and provide clinical care, education, public health, and administrative services at a distance. Technologies are providing new solutions for reducing hospital readmissions and providing a unique staffing solution in the midst of the current caregiver shortage. Of course, the vastly expanded patient base under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has helped the latest surge in new telehealth and other health IT initiatives. Consumers want and expect to be in charge – or at least in partnership – of their health care, growing the demand for online, remote care, where patients can get the care they need where and when they need it.
As with any service, it needs exposure and promotion. Many people still do not know about, or fully understand, the many benefits of telehealth or remote monitoring devices. Patients and community members may not be aware that their healthcare provider offers remote services. Here are a few strategies for marketing telehealth to your patients and community.
Identify Your Client Base
According to the Telehealth Resource Center, “While we often think of patients as our primary ‘customer,’ we need to look more broadly at customers. For your program to be successful, it is important to identify the persons or groups that need to be engaged. In health care, you may find some particular key customers.” For example, a hospital’s customer may families living in rural communities or physicians looking to refer patients. Both these potential customers need to know how your telehealth program can work to meet their specific needs.
Craft Your Unique Message
With telehealth growing in popularity, it’s important to be precise about what makes your telehealth program unique. Why should your clients invest in your solution as opposed to all the alternatives choices available to them? What problems will this technology solve for them?
Use Digital Marketing
Information is power, and in today’s highly mobile and online world, it’s important to get that information to your patients and potential patients in various ways. The online marketing for your telehealth program should focus on informing your target audience about critical industry issues that your telehealth program can solve. Digital marketing can include a page on your website, an e-newsletter, blog, social media, whitepaper, a call to action for your online health assessments, or educational webinars.
Create Print Collateral
Regardless of what you may have read online, print marketing is far from dead. Create professionally designed brochures and flyers about your program that you can mail and display it in waiting rooms, doctors’ offices, or wherever patients and prospective users of the technology can learn about the programs benefits.
While marketing your telehealth program to your local community could be effective in developing awareness, it is more efficient to target patients who would benefit from the services. Billboards in rural areas would let those who may appreciate easier access know about your program. Don’t forget about potential partnerships. Disperse information to home health agencies whose customers may be an adult child of a senior, for example, or to EMTs in underserved areas. As more seniors and patients with chronic diseases choose to remain at home longer, telehealth can be a vital link in cost-effective health care maintenance. Make sure their caregivers are aware of the benefits your program can provide.
Lastly, does your entire staff know that you have a robust telehealth program and that you encourage its use and promotion? Employees such as hospital discharge planners and nurses conducting post-ops should let patients know this benefit is available and encourage them to tell friends and family.
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