Welcome to the Brandigo Genius Series, a guest blog series that examines marketing and branding “geniuses” from a diverse set of backgrounds, industries, and perspectives. Here, we are inviting individuals that we know, respect, and in many cases, have learned from over the years to share their thoughts on the importance of brand, in the hopes of advancing the dialogue within these pages. We invite you — our readers, colleagues, clients, and other industry leaders — to contribute, as well, by posting a comment below.Today’s installment of the Brandigo Genius Series features John Lynn, founder of HealthcareScene.com, an influential blog network consisting of nearly 11,000 EMR and Healthcare IT related articles, gaining over 18 million views. John has also founded the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference and Health IT Expo — two conferences noted for their unique culture and community. We asked John five questions regarding the evolvement of healthcare marketing in 2018.
1. As 2018 nears, what are the biggest brand strategy/marketing challenges healthcare providers face in this era of patient consumerism?
The biggest challenge I see for healthcare providers is the emerging need for their brand to incorporate more than the sick care they’ve been practicing for years. This requires an organization to embrace the patient in new ways, in which they’re not comfortable. It also requires the healthcare IT professionals, the clinical professionals, and the healthcare marketing professionals to come together and use their unique skill sets in order to better serve the patients. Many organizations are afraid of this kind of collaboration. Plus, even more are in denial that this kind of collaboration is needed. Bridging these gaps and putting the patient at the center of the care is going to be the biggest branding and marketing challenge that healthcare providers face.
2. In your opinion, how important is content marketing for healthcare providers?
This depends a lot on the organization. In some specialties and regions, it’s not probably that important right now. However, in competitive environments it’s extremely important. Plus, as patients become more proactive in their care and start shouldering the cost burden of their care more and more, patients will rely on the content a healthcare provider creates to make a decision on where they should receive their care.
Furthermore, as the importance of the relationship a healthcare organization has with their patients outside the office increases, content marketing is going to be the best method to connect, engage, and influence patients.
3. With the M&A activity in the healthcare industry remaining steady, what do healthcare providers and vendors need to do to better differentiate themselves?
Showing patients that you care most about them is going to be extremely important. This can be shown in a variety of ways. Every organization should look at creating a patient advisory board that gives them direct access to patient feedback. Looking at the patient workflow and evaluating how that can be improved will make a huge difference. Comparing your organization to the retail world and seeing how you can implement things like patient self check-in, online patient payment, etc. are big changes that will show an organization’s willingness to put the patients needs first.
4. Implementing EHRs has definitely taken its toll on many a healthcare provider’s bottom line, how do you think that has hurt the healthcare industry’s “brand” in the eyes of the patient consumer?
I actually don’t think that EHRs have had a huge negative impact on a provider’s brand. There are a lot of surveys that say that patients like that their provider is using the latest technology and that they’re using an EHR. They do wish sometimes that the provider would spend less time with their head buried in their laptop, but that’s often on the provider’s workflow choice and communication skills as much as it is on the EHR. Many patients would be shocked if their doctor wasn’t using an EHR and would wonder if the doctor wasn’t keeping up with the latest technology, then where else in their organization aren’t they keeping up?
That said, EHR burnout by the physician is real and if we don’t solve some of those problems then the burnout will start to impact patient care in a negative way. The more we can free doctors up from being data entry clerks, the better it will be for doctors and patients. Unfortunately, I believe this requires a reimbursement and regulation change as much as it requires a change to EHR software or other workflow changes.
5. What’s the single most important marketing activity that healthcare organizations should run with for 2018?
The single most important thing a healthcare organization can do with their marketing is to be intentional. In some cases, that means becoming a stats junkie that understands the impact of the marketing work you’re doing and adjusting based on the results. In other cases, that means being intentional about building out your brand using content marketing so that you have a destination site that’s worth marketing regardless of the short term stats. Many healthcare organizations just keep doing what they’re doing because they’ve always done it.
In 2018, organizations need to be intentional about their marketing activities and have a well-defined strategy for where they want to go, who they want to be, and how they’ll get there.
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