It was clear at Greystone.net’s 21st annual Healthcare Internet Conference that healthcare providers are seeing tremendous shifts in the care journeys their patients embark upon. Healthcare consumers have plenty of treatment options available to them — and they know it. It’s not uncommon for providers to see patients that are as up-to-date on new treatment developments as they are and have definite opinions on what therapies and lifestyle decisions they feel are most appropriate.

Healthcare providers are warming up to the fact that consumers shop for health services the same way they shop for a car or a pair of shoes. They conduct vast research before stepping foot into an office and have often diagnosed themselves and are looking for a second opinion. Empowered patients never stop researching — and providers know that strong websites loaded with the content patients seek is a key to winning.

At the same time, many marketers feel tremendous challenges in competing for these patients. They know they are lagging behind other sectors in reaching consumers and will not survive if they remain stuck in their old ways. That explains why RMI VP of Client Services Brad Roberts and Lumity Life Vice President of Marketing Brett Lauter spoke to a packed room of eager attendees at their session “Lessons from Retail: Applying Multi-Channel Consumer Strategies to Your Marketing” at the conference. Healthcare has much to learn from the savvy retailers that solved similar problems years ago.

 

The concerns we heard again and again from attendees were:

 

Patient data is splintered.

Healthcare offices have troves of data on their patients, but it is often stashed in separate silos. Almost everything marketing departments learn about prospective patients stops when they walk in the door for the first time. The data practices obtain about patients after this point goes into a new HIPAA protected file that is inaccessible to marketers. This keeps the data needed to make solid marketing decisions hidden.

 

Sorting and segmenting data is difficult.

Hospital databases are enormous, and marketers don’t have the tools or resources they need to sort through it all when they do get access. Many expressed frustration in tracking the capabilities of their organizations and felt that hospitals are generally not structured correctly for marketing. They are hindered by outdated technologies and have limited capabilities to search and mine for the intelligence that they know is contained within their data.

 

They’re going it alone.

In most sectors, marketing is a team effort that involves partners like agencies. Healthcare marketers feel isolated because they are typically solving problems on their own without the help of outside consultants. Most of the marketers we talked to are not working with an agency and they understandably feel ill-equipped to put all the necessary pieces together to effectively engage with today’s consumers.

 

As an agency specializing in health, wellness and fitness, the last point is what resonated strongly with us. It’s an increasingly complex ecosystem for healthcare marketers, and there is no reason why they should be forced to tackle it without help.

Almost all of these issues have been solved by other sectors, but specialty expertise in healthcare is necessary to apply them appropriately. RMI is a fully HIPAA compliant agency that has decades of experience implementing sophisticated strategies to solve the same exact problems for retailers. We serve healthcare providers with the call center support, website development and digital outreach that patients use to determine which providers they are going to patronize. Contact us today to learn more about us and how we can help you with your marketing initiatives!

 

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