By Tandi Phillips Musuraca (@tanditweets), Chief Marketing Officer
This year’s Healthcare Marketing Strategies Summit was one of the best conferences I’ve been to recently. It may sound surprising, but in sessions and conversations with colleagues and new friends, there was a real sense of growing optimism about the future of healthcare. A lot of discussion centered around how marketers can improve the patient experience both by connecting with patients in ways that meet their needs and the needs of the hospitals facing reform. These are some of the fresh ideas that kept popping up.
Shifting from promotion to education
There was a great panel session called “Healthcare Reform: Are we Ready?” led by Ellen Baron, Peter Brumleve, Suzanne Sawyer and Karen Corrigan. They focused on how they are changing their thinking and their approach in the era of healthcare reform — from budgeting to organizational structure to strategy and execution.
The idea of promotion has been common in healthcare for years. But, as the healthcare landscape changes, so must our strategy. The panel advocated for the movement away from promotion to a more educational approach. The consumer is savvier than ever, and hospitals have to be their partner, guiding them through the health system. The key is to make the education highly customized through market segmentation. That way you’re speaking to them in a one-to-one way that’s relevant to their needs.
A real-time mindset
What do Charlie Sheen and the Red Cross have in common? They both tweet about tiger blood. The Red Cross spoofed Charlie Sheen’s new catchphrase while promoting Red Cross Month, and he retweeted their message to millions. That’s what David Meerman Scott deemed real-time marketing in his keynote presentation. He talked about the need for real-time marketing —in your data, in your interaction with customers and in your entire approach to marketing and communcations. But, especially in your mindset – speed and agility in marketing are competitive advantages to any hospital.
As we shift toward education, we also have to ensure we’re treating and communicating with our patient in a way that respects their individuality. Dr. Bridget Duffy gave an excellent keynote about returning the emotional connections to healthcare, recommending that hospitals combine efficiency and empathy to be a truly valuable partner in healthcare.
Dr. Duffy shared an example that really stayed with me when the conference ended. Before a procedure, clinicians often tell patients what might go wrong. She asked: what about sharing the positive results as well? She calls it informed hope. It’s somewhat similar to how we feel in healthcare right now — there’s turmoil and change. But at conferences like HMSS, people come together, put aside the uncertainty and talk about the possibilities ahead. That certainly feels like a kind of informed hope to me.