Hospital marketing

Hospital marketing departments are growing with a focus on data, social media

The digital transformation of healthcare has a significant effect on the marketing departments of hospitals.

Large or small, for-profit or not-for-profit, hospital marketing teams are reinventing themselves with “precision marketing”. Using social media, web technologies, and data analytics, healthcare marketing professionals can engage current patients, future patients, and the wider community like never before.

“Just as health care has changed so much, the discipline of marketing has also changed significantly,” said Suzanne Sawyer, chief marketing officer and associate vice president of health care at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “Over the last four years, we’ve been really focused on taking a more modern marketing methods approach – really focused on what I call ‘precision marketing’, and digital plays into that. an important role.”

[Also: 5 ways hospitals can use social media]

The University of Pennsylvania’s health system marketing department did two things in particular, Sawyer said. “The first is that we have assessed the kinds of skills and resources that we need, so we have reorganized our organization. The other thing that we have done – and this was also very important – is that we have invested in a customer relationship management marketing technology platform, so we’re a hugely data-driven marketing organization.”

Sawyer said his group had just completed its 100th digital campaign.

“We generated over 20,000 leads – and 37% of them converted to patients,” Sawyer said. “We’ve also identified the revenue associated with them. It’s exclusive, but it’s a very large number.”

“We were able to share this information with our senior management – ​​finance, all key leaders, our clinical leaders and our administrative leaders. Now they see the impact of marketing where before it was very difficult for me to justify the impact of our work,” Sawyer said.

[Also: 9 ways social media is impacting the business of healthcare]

This ability to better follow leads and the new generation of patients is essential for the marketing department today, Sawyer said.

“Marketing needs to be more responsible than we’ve ever been before, and now that it’s changed so much and become more of a technology business, we’re able to be more efficient, more precise in reaching the right kind individuals for the work we do,” said Sawyer.

Competition is at the root of this need for improved efficiency and innovation.

“Philadelphia is a very expensive media market. There are six academic medical centers in that market. There are nearly 80 acute care hospitals. It’s an extremely dense and competitive market,” she said. “Four years ago, we changed our marketing strategy and decided to invest in the right skills and tools so that we could take a more discreet approach to reaching people who actively search for information online, or to communicate with referring physicians for the specific type of information they need,” says Sawyer.

This does not mean that the hospital has abandoned traditional mass media.

“We still have a good mix, but we’ve really taken money out of mass media and now we’re using digital marketing campaigns,” Sawyer said.

“We buy pay-per-click ads online, we partner with a vendor to do those digital media buys, but we build everything in-house,” Sawyer said. “Our landing pages are embedded web forms and we are working on integrating datasets ourselves.”

On the social media side, the department has dedicated employees who are responsible for community management.

“So we’re active with social listening on social media. We have our eyes and ears open to know who is saying something about our programs, services and providers,” Sawyer said. “We know who came to our different websites, who called the contact center, so we have a lot of data that allows us to tell, from the first call or click, did you subscribe to an e-newsletter, participate in a web chat, did you attend a web screening, did you become patient?”

As Sawyer’s department embraced digital transformation, it also “strengthened our technical skills,” as she describes it.

“Data is a challenge for everyone,” Sawyer said. “Marketing is now a technology business and we are very active in the area of ​​data management and analysis. We have to be very good at it.”

The good news is that as hospital marketing needs have evolved over the past few years, marketing professionals have done a good job of keeping up with changing skill needs, according to Jill McDonald Halsey, director of marketing. at Lawrence General Hospital in Medford, Massachusetts. Unlike Sawyer’s departments, McDonald’s Halsey has only three marketing professionals on staff.

“It’s a small hospital and I would say the makeup is your traditional marketing background,” McDonald Halsey said. As for duties, “it’s the typical stuff – internal communications to 1,800 employees, hospital-patient communications, general program marketing, physician communications, media relations, web, including social media , community outreach and all that kind of stuff.”

Social media has a big impact on how McDonald’s Halsey and its stories do their job.

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“When we recruited the latest recruit, familiarity with social media, content, email marketing, all of that stuff was what we were looking for,” McDonald Halsey said. “Although I am familiar with all of these things, my background is more traditional and my role is different – ​​it is more of a strategic role. We were looking for someone who has some familiarity with the backend of the web. we did find someone and she’s doing just fine. The flip side is that she can do the tactical work, but I’m doing the writing. It’s more about providing the support tactic for this digital work.

Looking ahead, McDonald’s Halsey said hospital marketers have more changes in store.

“Because reimbursement models are changing and reimbursements are going down – at least they are for us – marketing is going to have to be more focused to stay relevant and benefit the success of the hospital,” said McDonald’s Halsey.

“Budgets are thinner and we’re going to have to better demonstrate that we can stay focused on strategy and use the resources at our disposal to move the organization forward in a learning way towards its strategic goals,” McDonald Halsey said. “I think digital media has the ability to do that for us because you can so carefully create your target populations.”

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