Now is NOT the time to stop spending marketing dollars. With hospitals losing $1.4B per day, the onus falls to marketing to attract and retain high value patients.
As a healthcare marketer, it’s almost impossible to open LinkedIn without seeing links upon links to articles with advice on how to safely reopen elective services. Likewise, email Inboxes are full of multiple invites to webinars on the topic. The amount of information is vast, and it is up to the marketer to determine which advice best suits their communities and systems. This becomes more complex when the market is highly competitive, and consumers are watching. Here are some factors contributing to the complexity:
- Has the system had layoffs or furloughs?
- How did you handle appointment cancellations?
- What brand messages did you share over the past few months?
- What was the reputation of the system before everything shutdown?
Since the start of the pandemic, consumer healthcare spending is down 18%, almost 5 times the largest drop in the past 20 years. The corresponding response might be to cut healthcare marketing budgets. But is this the right thing to do? Does ceasing to promote services lead to success in the longer term? Do people no longer need knee replacements or weight loss surgery? Of course not. And the competition knows it. Consumers are home, online and researching health topics. The pump is primed.
Recently, Geonetric published a blog on “Bringing Patients Back to the Doctor’s Office After COVID-19,” where focus on telehealth and virtual care was featured. Tools like online health risk assessment can be key to re-engaging past patients and identifying new ones. For the consumer, hitting a landing page from an SEM or push campaign with a simple HRA and timely next steps, like virtual visits, can help assuage fears that still exist and likely will for the foreseeable future.
Regarding patient fears, “… you’ve got to give patients a higher level of service than you’ve ever done before,” CareSherpa’s Jessica Walker says. “In the age of COVID-19, you have to understand what motivates a patient to make an appointment in the first place — and what key factors get them motivated to re-schedule.” Simply calling up cancelled patients is not going to fill pipelines. Don’t rely upon this group to solely fill gaps in revenue; marketing to pull from competition is still integral to success. HRAs can help identify high risk people who would be the fastest to convert and by adding custom questions, health systems can identify who A) still has health insurance, B) is ready to take action, and C) is willing to come in for care during this time.
The demand is out there – and the competition is chasing it, too. View Jessica Walker’s latest Webinar on the topic.
Keep marketing! Finding a message that focuses on safety and meeting consumer needs is crucial. Offering digital tools to assess readiness for treatment and virtual visits to connect providers to patients will be what sets apart the winners from the losers in the race to regain market share.