5 Considerations for a 2015 Healthcare Marketing Strategy

December 31, 2014

Carestruck Marketing New Year 2015

You could list ten issues screaming for attention in your 2015 healthcare marketing strategy – right off the top of your head. You know them, because they were nagging you before the holiday. But, with Christmas a dim memory and 2015 momentum growing, it’s time to whittle your list to the top focus areas of an effective working plan.

Approaching a healthcare marketing strategy

Let’s keep in mind that the point of marketing is to grow revenue; an effective strategy addresses that goal directly. Rising insurance deductibles will have significant impact on revenue this year. If you’re waiting for this trend to hit your billing department to address it in collections, you’ll never get in front of it. Patient communication has never been more important than it is now. Organic growth through word-of-mouth of satisfied patients is the first rung of a progressive marketing strategy, and that requires effective communication before, during and after the visit.

It’s a big step to recognize the need for a healthcare marketing strategy. The demands of business can tempt you to skip planning. However, print advertising tied to a static website leaves your business exposed and growth potential – let’s call it money – on the table.

More than just homework, marketing strategy is a power tool

Once you determine the need for a strategy that delivers return on investment, planning tools can be an invaluable. They guide you to ask the right questions. This isn’t a document shoved to the bottom of your inbox once it’s complete. It’s a working document that includes dated milestones and enough tactical detail to tread a groove through your busiest days. It leaves margin for interruptions to get back on track when inevitable crises arise. At Carestruck, we make this process easy, providing expertise and support tailored to your practice.

Among many dynamics, these five considerations should top your list:

1. Set a specific return on investment target.

Setting objectives requires a thorough review of where you stood at the end of your last fiscal year. A working healthcare marketing strategy analyzes your local and national market position to determine realistic growth targets. It also infuses marketing activities with creativity consistent with your brand. At Carestruck, we keep fresh ideas on tap and manage the legwork while you focus on patient care.

2. Address rising deductibles.

Deductibles have risen sharply from an average of less than $1,000 in 2009 to a range between $2,500 –$4,000. USA Today Recoiling from sharp increases in premiums, patients are flocking to plans with lower premiums, which carry higher deductibles. Plans with the most economical premiums leave patients paying on average 40% of their total healthcare costs out of pocket. For those with a $5000+ deductible, 80% will end up paying out of pocket for all of their health care expenses in any given year. That means a much greater percentage of revenue will be the result of direct patient collections. It’s just one of the trends driving healthcare to a more retail business model, increasing pressure for practices to manage collections differently.  Proactive collections demands a clear communication plan, which lies within the boundaries of an effective healthcare marketing strategy.

3. Improve patient communication.

Communication is one of the biggest contributors to the patient experience. For example, it’s not the wait to see the doctor that kills ratings; it’s how you communicate about wait times that influences perception, ratings and reviews. An effective strategy addresses every aspect of the patient experience, including communications from top to bottom. Push for integration and consistency across all channels. Your patient newsletter is available on site and online. Front office staff directs patients to support on your website. The website supports the patient experience before and after the visit, welcoming feedback. Finally, direct email keeps your expertise top of mind, brand continuity rules the day, and outcomes are monitored.

4. Get real engagement from social pages.

Browse any healthcare organization’s social page and with rare exception you’ll find minimal 2-way dialogue. The goal of social engagement is more than accumulating “Likes”! Fully leveraged, social engagement provides a deeper understanding of your audience, is interactive and responsive. Engage Carestruck, and we’ll inspire comments and shares from your audience. We’ll convert browsers to repeat visits, and visits into referrals. Unlike most marketers, we know the real power to extend engagement begins at your office. So, we work with you on campus as well as off.

5. Make the most of your website.

There’s still a great opportunity to distinguish your practice with a dynamic website. Though they’ve grown more aesthetic, many businesses still rely on digital brochures that languish online like fossils. An effective website, in contrast, serves the pulse of your practice. First, make sure you’ve covered the basics: SEO, HD video, external links to educational resources, and patient testimonials. If you haven’t overhauled your website in the last three years it’s likely time for a complete renovation. But, don’t stop there. Once you’ve established the proper reflection of the mission and culture of your business, keep it dynamic with regular updates. Changes in office hours, holiday greetings, events, and medical advances drive repeat visits, and cultivate your audience beyond the visit.

Finally, keep your eye on the ball.

Don’t forget to execute.  Consistent execution of an effective healthcare marketing strategy will compete for attention with a myriad of practice demands.  This is where outsourcing can be invaluable to your growth objectives.  Carestruck costs less than the equivalent in-house staff and keeps focus on your goals during the turbulent business cycle.

With these five considerations you’re on your way to your best year ever with a healthcare marketing strategy that works. Growth in 2015 starts today with a plan that leaves no aspect of your market presence exposed. We have the experience and specialized expertise to provide a range of solutions that fit your objectives. And, because we understand how busy you are, we do the leg work, research and analysis to deliver a simple executable strategy. Call Carestruck today – 708-995-1370 – and start growing.