Posts Tagged ‘Marketing for healthcare’
By Leanne Drown
We all know by now that social media is imperative in marketing your medical practice, but there are still a lot of questions about what it means to launch a social media campaign, how it can make a difference, how to stay within HIPAA regulations and what the impact will be. Instead of trying to answer all these questions in one blog post, we decided to share a few really good and compelling examples. Take a read through, let it marinate a bit and start to think about what these types of campaigns could mean for your practice. Children’s hospitals definitely lead the pack in the social media sphere, but that doesn’t mean you can’t join them!
The UCSF Challenge for the Children
In only 8 weeks, the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital raised over $1 million for a new center in Mission Bay. Using Facebook, Twitter and Causes.com, the Challenge recruited individual contributors and team leaders who then created groups through their personal networks. Throughout the eight-week contest, more than 50 teams signed up to compete for various prizes, with the top two teams earning the prize of naming a space in the new UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Companies such as Zynga (known for Farmville), alongside individual patients of UCSF Benioff Hospital, rallied their social networks to surpass the initial goal.
Humana wanted to promote Freewheelin, their bike sharing program, within communities of green & health friendly individuals to support better health. First they identified local cycling clubs on Meetup.com and arranged events during which they would share information about their program. In order to drive traffic to these events, they created a Facebook page, Blog, Twitter handle, Flickr group and YouTube account. Over the course of the campaign, more than 1,500 photos were uploaded to Flickr. The end result was eight days of rides with over 7,500 total rides and 41,000 miles ridden. While Freewheelin is no longer an active brand, the initiative is still going strong under the name B-Cycle.
Dr. Irena Vaksman, Dentist
Dr. Vaksman, who practices dentistry in San Francisco, has the challenge of practicing in a building that houses hundreds of other dentists. Most having more established practices than hers. In order to grow her practice she decided to go online (with the help of her husband). In addition to creating a Facebook page, a YouTube channel and a Twitter stream, Dr. Vaksman decided to offer a Groupon to the residents of her community. As a result of the Groupon, Dr. Vaksman received 320 new patients. Valksman’s patients now communicate with her on her Facebook page, and her practice continues to grow.
Follow Leanne on Twitter @leannedrown or email her at email@example.com.
By Tivona Betz
Every year more and more people trade in their boring cell phones for a flashy smartphone for the convenience of having everything they need at their finger tips. Smartphone users can log onto the Internet, post to their Facebook page, text and chat with their friends and family, and download thousands of applications, all while walking their dog.
However, health care physicians should look at smartphones as more than just a way to check their email and talk with family and friends. They should also be regarded as a valuable tool to assist them with their practice and patients. And it should be noted that many doctors already recognize it as such. According to a 2009 survey by Hall & Partners, 71 percent of physicians consider a smartphone essential to their practice and 72 percent of physicians are using smartphones to communicate, manage personal and business workflows and access medical information.
There are thousands of health and fitness applications for health care professionals to help them access medical calculators and medical records, track vital signs, order medication, e-prescribe, and coordinate care with other team members.
For instance, Merck Serono developed an electronic injection device with two-way Bluetooth communication functions to track all injections made by a patient. If a patient forgets an injection, a nurse will be alerted and will be able to contact the patient to remind them.
One of the most popular medical applications doctors can access is Epocrates’ free drug reference application. In a study on the drug reference application, 60 percent of Epocrates’ users claimed they have avoided three or more medical errors each month since using the application.
Other companies that are creating health care applications for smartphones include The Good Shepherd Health System, Zibbel, Qualcomm, Kaiser, and Mayo.
Smartphones are also making doctors more accessible to their patients in a quicker manner through e-visits. E-visits, or online physician consultations, are being used to treat patients for non-emergency conditions and to answer questions about minor ailments, symptoms or medications.
According to Manhattan Research, about 42 percent of U.S. physicians say they’ve discussed clinical symptoms online with patients and more than 9 million consumers report having had email communication with their physician. This can all be done with the assistance of a smartphone.
E-visits can lower costs and provide convenience for the patient and physician as they enable doctors to respond more quickly to patient concerns and keep in-office time slots available for those who really need to see a physician in person.
In fact, the Mayo Clinic found through a two-year study that e-visits could have replaced actual office visits in 40 percent of 2,531 case studies.
Patients also recognize the benefits of e-visits. According to Healthcare unwired, 85 percent of patients who have contacted their doctor through other methods other than by an office visit were satisfied with the results and according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 41 percent of patients said they would like more of their care delivered through their mobile device.
As technology changes and evolves, the health care industry must change and evolve with it. The capabilities of a smartphone are endless, and physicians should utilize them to the fullest by embracing them and their applications as tools that can streamline their practice and ultimately benefit their patients.
By Ashley Campbell
You’ve finished updating your brand identity and logo and now ask yourself, “How should I introduce the new look to our patients and integrate it into our medical practice?”
There are a few marketing strategy phases that you should consider when integrating your updated brand into your marketing campaign.
Start by adding the new logo to your stationery, statements and invoices. When a patient walks up to the counter, they’ll notice the change on your business cards, or when reviewing their invoices and statements. It’s a subtle change but every touch point creates brand identity for your medical practice.
Your email signature can also be updated to include your new medical marketing logo and will be viewed when sending out external emails to referring physicians, consultants and vendors
Announce the revamp of your brand by creating a direct mail piece or an eblast showcasing the exciting new look and feel. This will not only allow patients to see your brand for the first time, but it is a chance to advertise your practice.
You must integrate your new logo and brand into your advertising as soon as possible. Depending on your healthcare marketing plan, you can integrate your new identity into your existing ad campaign. Updating healthcare advertising will take some time, but remaining consistent is very important when building a reputable brand. Remember to also update your medical practices’ website!
Healthcare marketing collateral materials, such as brochures, flyers, posters and information kits are all items that need to be updated as well. Again, every touch point for your customer should create brand identity and should remain consistent throughout. Having a strong, consistent brand will aide in positioning your medical practice as a reputable and reliable resource.
The most expensive and time consuming marketing piece to be completed is your medical practice signage. This is usually the last piece that needs updating because of the size, location and material needed to build your updated signage. It will be expensive, but it is worth it.
By Pam Meyers
When someone thinks of a brand they tend to think of large consumer corporations such as Pepsi, Coke, Apple, etc. Why do those names come up first? They were successful at branding their product or service by being consistent with their messaging and logo. Branding and healthcare marketing is not just for large companies and hospitals; it is for all businesses that want to be recognized as a leader in their industry. Creating a successful brand can help attract patients to your practice and instill confidence.
According to Wikipedia branding is it the identity of a specific product, service, or business. What exactly does that mean? And what does that mean for your practice? It seems a lot of physicians are skeptical of the word. A better definition is that a brand is delivering on a promise consistently. Branding now extends to people, think of Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Martha Stewart, Kim Kardashian, these savvy individuals know they have to be different and stand out from the crowd. However, branding is not very common in private healthcare practices. You would be surprised to know a large percentage of healthcare practices do not use branding to establish and reinforce a specific reputation in their market.
So the good news is that most of your professional colleagues are not trying to brand their practices or promote their practices through health care public relations agencies. The even better news is that the practice that successfully brands itself will standout above the competition.
In service industries, including healthcare, effective branding is about the entire experience and relationship that patients have with you and your team. When you communicate what makes your healthcare practice different, you are setting expectations — a direct or implied promise — that patients will get the benefit of your unique value each time they visit or call.
Finally, here are some healthcare brand-building points to consider:
Guard your brand within your office. Once you’ve created your brand, make sure you monitor all printed materials and any other collateral that is created. Without someone maintaining the brand it can quickly get diluted and ineffective. Stay focused on the goals that were identified when the brand was initially created and it should be easy to maintain.
Deliver a consistent patient experience. People prefer consistent quality to surprises, and a brand isn’t really a brand if the practice doesn’t deliver a consistent, high-quality experience. Remember, just a few negative experiences can blow your brand credibility and betray the trust you’ve worked so hard to build.
Deliver consistent branded communications. In addition to delivering consistent in-office experiences, you must effectively communicate your brand message at every marketing opportunity such as your website, brochures, business cards, etc.
When you create a powerful practice brand, you’ll attract the patients, cases, and referrals that you want. Deliver your branding message consistently, and your reward will be consistent profit growth.
Using an integrated and consistent marketing campaign is an effective approach to raising awareness for any cause. Northern Nevada Immunization Coalition created an increase of flu vaccinations in Northern Nevada communities through marketing, grassroots outreach and public relations.
The 2010-2011 Flu Season kicked off in Northern Nevada with the help of Northern Nevada Immunization Coalition (NNIC) and MassMedia. NNIC contacted MassMedia to create an awareness campaign for the 2010-2011 Flu Season that was creative and promoted the flu vaccination in a fun and informative way, while still establishing a call to action.
MassMedia came up with an exciting new campaign entitled “InFLUence Others: Get Vaccinated!” which contained a definitive call to action and an identity that would appeal to a diverse audience. The campaign consisted of media relations, event management, advertising and grassroots/community outreach. Digital billboards, newspaper print advertising, television commercials and radio spots were created and stayed consistent with the campaign’s branding and NNIC’s goals. Since the majority of the target audience spends a great deal of time online on Facebook, Twitter and blogs, social media also played a large role in the campaign.
Within days of launching the campaign, NNIC received positive feedback from both the public and the media. By the third day of the campaign, NNIC had already seen a 200 percent increase in their Facebook and Twitter page views. The media coverage secured for the campaign increased awareness of the importance of the flu vaccination and boosted the credibility of the Northern Nevada Immunization Coalition. Press releases regarding new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations and flu shot events were picked up by KOLO Channel 8, KTNV Channel 2, radio station KTHX, The Reno Gazette Journal, The Elko Daily Free Press, The Nevada Appeal, Family Pulse Magazine, and Humboldt Times. The flu vaccination clinic sold over 200 vaccinations, exceeding the client’s expectations. The campaign’s tagline and branding has been extremely successful in the Northern Nevada communities and among regional healthcare professionals.
By Aimee Romero
People base their ideas about doctors on two things – their personal experiences with their own doctors and what they see fictional doctors do in movies and on TV.
This makes shaping people’s ideas about your practice tricky because you are neither their doctor nor are you the star of Grey’s Anatomy. You can’t control their previous medical experiences or their cinematic experiences.
So what can you control that will shape your target audience’s opinion of you and your practice? How can you make your way in to their lives and minds in a manner that will be both positive and memorable?
One tried and true method of earning positive media coverage is to tap in to the most universal expectation people have of a “doctor” and make it your calling card. That expectation is the fundamental role of a doctor – to heal the sick. Forget the money and the insurance claims; a doctor’s duty is to serve humankind, regardless of profit.
People seek out medical care because they have a medical need and often that need goes unmet because the cost of treatment is too high for the patient to pay. For so many patients, these stories of suffering and years of neglect make compelling human interest stories. We want to see these people receive the help they need and a doctor who steps in is not only generous, but is also making a smart business decision. Branding yourself as a generous doctor will attract patients and referrals and help will grow your practice.
Pro bono medical care is the most memorable and easily understood “doctor story” that the media can tell a mass audience. It reinforces what people want to believe about professional caregivers and doctors in particular. By simply donating your services to a deserving patient once a year, you can build a powerful image as “the doctor who cares and sacrifices for the greater good.” That is the kind of powerful image that sticks in people’s minds forever.
It doesn’t matter what your specialty is, you can make a positive pro bono story out of anything that your practice can donate. Whether it’s life-saving surgery, or something as simple as donating old copiers and laptops to a local school, it shows that your practice cares about the community.
Even plastic surgeons do not have to be stuck with the image of Nip/Tuck or Dr. 90210. Reconstructive work on accident survivors, cosmetic dental work and other types of reparations make very effective PR outreach, especially when the cosmetic work is life-changing for the patient.
Finding the story that will build your image is actually rather simple. Remember why you were attracted to medicine and why you find it fulfilling and use your skills to change someone’s life and make the world smile.
By Carmesha Thompson
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a dinner party and began chatting with a doctor who specialized in otolaryngology. If you’re like me and have no idea what type of specialty this is, it means ear, nose and throat. After telling him, I worked in the public relations, marketing and advertising industry, he admitted that even though his sister worked in PR as well, he could never gain a firm understanding on the industry as a whole.
After providing a general summary of public relations, I suggested he give MassMedia, an agency that specializes in healthcare public relations, a call in order to grow his practice. He said he understood the benefits of healthcare advertising and medical marketing, but didn’t see the added value in public relations.
“I’m sure being on the news for something good can’t hurt, but I don’t see why I should put so much work towards it or why I should pay someone else to do it,” he said.
I started thinking that if this doctor felt this way, then there are probably more that feel the same way. It’s important for doctors to understand the full positive impact that excellent PR can have on their practice and oneway this impact can be felt is by being positioned as a credible expert source.
When viewers see anyone representing an industry on the news, they automatically assume that that person is an expert in their field whose knowledge can be trusted and valued. That is because the news is an objective third-party. It is an impartial source (i.e. no hidden agendas) with an established reputation. Unlike advertising, people can not pay news stations and papers in order to be featured, mentioned or quoted. Viewers know this, so when they see an industry representative on or in the news, they automatically trust that representative and believe the suggestions or information they are providing to be true.
The media is always looking for healthcare expert sources to comment on stories. With all of the media coverage that the flu season has been receiving lately, there were numerous news stories and articles that the doctor I talked to could have been quoted in as a source since he is an ear, nose and throat doctor.
If he had been in the media, people that saw him or read an article in which he was used as a source would have thought of him as a premier expert in his field, whether he is or isn’t, with no hesitation and this might have lead them to look him up for service. That is how powerful the media is and that is a key component of healthcare public relations.
So how do you get in front of the media? That is where MassMedia Healthcare Marketing, a public relations firm in Nevada, comes in. When they need a source, the media is never going to randomly look up a doctor in the phonebook or on the Internet. They are going to turn to a public relations firm that represents healthcare clients, such as MassMedia, to bring the reliable and readily available sources to them.
However MassMedia doesn’t wait for reporters to come to them. They go to the healthcare reporters by ensuring that the media know of their healthcare clients and by pitching their healthcare clients for feature articles and news segments. There are additional ways to get in front of the media, but positioning yourself and/ or your practice as a credible source in your industry is an excellent start.
By Danielle Longley
Internet medical marketing, digital healthcare marketing, web marketing, online physician marketing or e-marketing, whatever you want to call it, it’s more important now than ever. Internet marketing is the marketing of products or services over the Internet.
Online presence is vital to healthcare marketing. More and more American’s are turning to the Internet to do their research, comparisons and decision-making. According to a recent study done by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, in 2010 approximately 61 percent of American adults looked online for health information.
So how do you take advantage of the Internet to promote your medical practice? Start, by knowing your resources. The Internet offers a plethora of information through a vast variety of sites and search engines, but before you can decide what’s right for your practice, you need to know what’s available.
Start with a website. Your healthcare website should be geared to making your potential patient’s decision easier and both potential and loyal patient’s experience better. Content drives action. The content on your physician website should be built specifically for your target audience. Tell them a story about your services and your practice that they can relate to. What visitors to your site really want is content that first describes the problems they face and then provides details on how your practice solves these problems. To do this you need to your audience, well.
In just the past few years social media has exploded onto the scene as an affordable way to market healthcare products and services. It’s easy, convenient and continually updated. Hospitals, physicians and other healthcare professionals are gradually entering and participating in social media. Social media is extremely important for healthcare professionals because at the center of all the updates and chatter, are trust and relationships. It offers physicians and their practices the opportunity to interact with their audiences in a peer-to-peer environment, outside the exam room, and in a less serious setting. It’s essential for your practice to stay ahead of the curve through the use of social media tools including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, ICYou, WebMD, and more.
Blogging has become a way to establish your expertise. It is an informal, reliable, direct source of information. It’s an easy and efficient way to get your practices viewpoints and expertise into the market. Blog about your medical services and related topics, describe the problem and provide a solution. However, remember a blog is not a sales pitch. It’s valuable information to the client to broaden their knowledge and help them make their own decision. The less salesy and more personal you are, the more respected you will be by your readers, also known as, your potential clients. Even if the person reading your blog doesn’t need your services, chances are good that they know someone who does, or they wouldn’t be there.
To win at Internet marketing you need five things: 1. Know who your audience is 2. Know where are they online 3. Create audience specific content 4. Be a resource 5. Participate. The Internet is a two way street, that’s why it works. You can participate through updating your healthcare website or blog, responding to comments and taking part in conversations. If you have something valuable to say, say it. If you appreciate a great review a patient wrote, thank them. The more valuable information you put out there about your services and the solutions you offer, the more potential patients will find you, know who you are and trust you.
By Kristi Morris
Increasing your marketing effectiveness is as easy as outlining a well-rounded healthcare marketing plan and staying consistent with your brand. A good integrated medical marketing plan is essential to the success of a small medical practice or business. In fact, the ability to properly market your healthcare practice or product is on of the most important aspects of your business. Learn the basic components and considerations of a strategic healthcare marketing plan, and you will be well on your way to increasing the effectiveness of your marketing dollars.
Focus on Relationships
The most effective healthcare marketing plan is not always the most expensive marketing plan. In this economy, focusing on the people you already have relationships with will go a long way in promoting your business, or practice. Treat your patients, clients, even vendors as if they are your strategic business partners. Build customer loyalty by keeping it personal, and treat each person you come in contact with as though they are your friend. Establish a culture of customer service, and put the needs of your patients first. Taking the time to learn who they are, and why they have come to see you will contribute to your success, and the success of your practice. And don’t forget, good old fashioned face-to-face meetings are the best way to maintain a patient and client relationship.
While successful healthcare marketing used to be a straightforward formula of ‘you get what you pay for’ the new marketing landscape is a little bit different. While traditional paid media such as television, print or billboard still plays a major role in healthcare marketing, now more than ever, a practice needs to have an online presence. As many as 69% of consumers are now using the internet to make well informed healthcare decisions. Meaning if your practice is not on the web, you could be missing out on substantial market share. A physician’s website is a very important aspect to an integrated healthcare marketing plan.
By bringing your organization, whether it be a hospital, dentist, pediatrician or weight loss clinic into an arena where you can stay in constant contact with more people, you will have the opportunity to not only build a better perception of your organization, but also to build a stronger affiliation with your brand. An online presence no longer means just a doctors webpage. Social networking allows healthcare providers to get the word out, generate excitement, and receive valuable feedback.
Consider an online newsletter, a physician blog, tweeting live procedures, or simply using the internet as a means to communicate in times of crisis. Healthcare providers can leverage social media networks to provide real-time updates both for those directly affected by the crisis and those watching from afar.
Media and Community Outreach
You have a great practice with a reputation for focusing on your patients and you have an online presence with a medical website and doctor’s facebook. What’s next? Get your medical practice noticed. And the best way to get noticed by potential patients is to get noticed by the media with a solid medical public relations campaign. Give the media a reason to come knocking at your door. Host an event, or a day, and send out a press release to generate media excitement. Maybe it is flu season, and you are offering free flu shots to the first 25 people in the door. Or maybe it is National Diabetes Month, and you want to encourage people to get tested for diabetes. Either way, write up a press release, and send it to the media. The media is constantly looking for an opportunity to feature a promising business or practice. All you have to do is give them one. Using a healthcare pr agency can help you accomplish these tasks.
Integrating with the community you serve is a vital move for your practice. There are several opportunities to reach out to your community. Form a strategic partnership with a non-profit organization such as United Blood Services. Or consider participating in an educational speaking commitment where you can act as an expert witness for anything from losing weight to maintaining a healthy cholesterol level. Find ways to educate the community at large on your area of expertise through webinars, seminars and trade shows.
Marketing for healthcare can seem overwhelming, but follow those simple tips and you will be on your way to success.
By Chad Freeman
Doctors are becoming more involved in social media every day. According to separate surveys by MDSearch and Manhattan Research, approximately 70 percent of doctors are members of at least one social media site. The 2010 Statistical Abstract of the U.S. Census Bureau totals physicians and surgeons in the United States at 661, 400. So that means an estimated 462,980 American doctors are social networking on some level.
Additionally, a Manhattan Research survey showed an increase of Internet usage by United States physicians. On average, doctors spent eight hours online for professional purposes each week in 2010. That’s up from two and a half hours per week in 2002.
Despite all of this, there seems to be an overall lack of physicians that have a public presence online. To find where the bulk of the physicians are online, you yourself must be a physician. There are currently more than 20 different closed social healthcare networks. Most of those 400,000 doctors that are involved in social media seem to be participating on these sites.
Closed social healthcare networks are social media sites that are for medical professionals only. Some have extensive credential verification processes and only allow medical doctors and doctors of osteopathic medicine. The top site at the moment is Sermo, which has been around since 2006. It boasts more than 115,000 physicians in its community.
It’s understandable that physicians would like a place online where they can freely participate socially. On these closed network sites they can talk to their peers, ask questions and speak freely knowing what they say will not be seen, criticized, or released to the public.
But are physicians able to completely let their guard down and discuss anything in these communities? Not really. They still have to be relatively professional about what they say; just like public curbside consultations, physicians may still be liable for misinformation.
“With professional organizations offering little guidance on how to proceed, it’s probably best to be careful about what you post, and how you act on the information gleaned from these sites,” was advice Dr. Kevin Pho offered on his blog KevinMD.com.
Dr. Pho of Nashua, New Hampsire is one of the most influential doctors on Twitter. He is ranked second out of 1,325 on TwitterDoctors.net and has more than 20,000 Twitter followers. Television personality and alum of The Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live, Dr. Mehmet Oz is ranked number one.
There is a lot of discussion about privacy issues and keeping professional relationships professional when it comes to healthcare and social networking. An article by PsychCentral.com recently suggested “physicians with a profile on Facebook may be compromising the doctor-patient relationship, because they don’t deploy sufficient privacy settings.”
Dr. Pho has a personal Facebook profile. It’s completely private. His public Facebook page has more than 5,000 fans. It is used as an outpost, just like his Twitter account, for his blog, which gets 310,000 page views per month. His Klout score, which is the measurement of his overall online influence including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, is a 71 out of 100. The average is around 50.
Understanding that security and liability are concerns for physicians, and they should be, closed social communities don’t seem to be the answer; simply being smart, like Dr. Pho, is. If there is information or situations that can’t be or shouldn’t be discussed on Facebook or Twitter, they probably don’t belong in a closed social community either.
With his public presence in the social media world, Dr. Pho provides his perspective on breaking medical news, guides readers to reputable medical sources, helps make the public aware of issues in the healthcare world, manages his professional reputation, markets himself and boosts his sites SEO. None of which can be done from a closed social media community.