Healthcare marketing should go beyond just attracting new patients. To maximize your marketing efforts, you must invest time and resources into growing meaningful relationships with your patients. The coveted patient-doctor relationship can be leveraged, especially through social media, to help patients get the information they need and to help hospitals stay a step ahead of the competition. When patients are able to ask questions, receive near-real-time responses, and stay connected with their healthcare providers, their overall health profiles improve.

Using marketing as a means to reach out to and engage patients can be an effective way of ensuring that your patients say healthy and out of your office. This may sound counterintuitive since appointments often translate into higher revenues for healthcare providers. However, recently more appointments and services provided have not been converting into increased business growth.

In a recent survey, physicians were asked to identify the largest concern facing hospitals today. And, their responses reached well beyond industry competition or consumer preferences. 46.8% of physicians polled cite insurance denials as their hospital’s most pressing issue. Despite booking more appointments, patients often come in and receive the care they need, only for the hospital’s claims to be denied due to readmission.

 

Worried healtcare professionals discussing the readmission rate at their hospital.

 

Hospital readmission rates have been a concern for several years, and the subject of Congressional scrutiny and initiatives. For instance, the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP), established by the Affordable Care Act in 2012, financially penalizes hospitals with higher than expected 30-day readmission rates. Historically, nearly 20% of all Medicare discharges had a readmission within 30 days. Before 2012, hospitals had little direct financial incentive to reduce readmission rates.  The total Medicare penalties assessed on hospitals for readmissions increased to more than $500 million in 2017, about a 20% rate of increase from 2016. While reducing readmission rates is a valiant pursuit, by putting financial penalties in place, the HRRP seems to assume that all readmissions are the result of faulty medical practices.

But what about when a readmission is not the hospital’s fault? According to an Institute of Medicine research study, nearly 50% of all adults in the United States have trouble understanding how to comply with their medication regimens. Whether or not this is an error on the physicians’ part is debatable. It is not uncommon for patients to decide they feel “well enough” to prematurely discard taking their antibiotics and medications, as was prescribed by doctor’s orders. Still others seek online medical advice after leaving the hospital, deciding to change the manner and method of their treatment.  In the final analysis, a patient’s treatment frequently does not begin and end while they are in the hospital. Many elements can come into play on the patient’s side that have nothing to do with the physicians’ medical proficiency; and yet hospitals are left vulnerable to lose the money from a perfectly well-handled patient experience.

Patient looking for a second medical opinion online after having already seen a doctor at a hospital.

How can effective marketing help?

Marketing is just as much about building relationships with your former and current patients as it is about attracting new ones. Taking the time to map out the patient journey can be a great way to schedule touchpoints to connect with patients, before, during, and after receiving care. These strategic “marketing” outreach initiatives can be beneficial in helping patients navigate their care and follow medical recommendations. The healthier your patients are before needing medical care means that insurance claims are less likely to be denied due to readmission.

Although many hospitals and physicians’ practices today leverage patient portals, enabling patients to keep track of prescriptions, bills and regimens, it’s clearly not enough. Patients must be engaged. A social media campaign, including email, could go a long way in keeping patients engaged and on track. Leveraging professional customer service staff to place courtesy check-in calls or to manage inbound calls is an effective way to strengthen the patient relationship. But, beware – not all customer service is made equal. The key to nurturing patients throughout their journey is rooted in providing the right level of customer care. So, if you have not planned a marketing outreach campaign to connect, engage and inform your patients, now is the time.

 

Image overview of the different options to optimize patient experience at a hospital, including followup marketing campaigns like email and social media.

 

Crafting the right marketing approach to meet both patient and hospital needs can be challenging. As the only 100% HIPAA compliant digital marketing agency in the country, Response Mine Health specializes in helping healthcare providers carve out a competitive advantage as well as meet the customer support needs of their patients.

 

To learn more about how our award-winning marketing strategies will take your patient journey (and revenues) to new heights, click here.

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