Hospital Marketing Has a New Mission

And it’s not about “putting heads in the beds.”
The marketing mission is now engagement, experience, and demand management.
From what I can see, the great majority of hospital leadership still believes hospital and system marketing is the “all about us” story. The story of being “world-class” with dazzling high-tech equipment, state-of-the-art buildings, awards and all the features of care as seen as important to the hospital or health system, without any mention of the value and benefit to the end-user, aka, the patient.
Old and tired from the 1990s, that kind of marketing and content
doesn’t work anymore.
This is the new mission of hospital marketing in a value-based world.
Consumer and Patient Engagement
More than a buzzword, engagement is the way that one binds the healthcare consumer and patient to the hospital or health system network. In an age where the changes over the last decade mean that a person only needs a hospital for three items- emergency care, care for acute complex medical conditions, and intensive care, engagement is the currency by which the hospital or health system stays relevant in a world full of higher-quality, cost-affordable and convenient alternative treatment locations.
That means providing content that is valuable and impactful to the audience. It provides the reasons why you’re relevant and important to them. It meets their needs, not yours. It is the value the hospital or health system provides, not the look at all the features.
Patient experience means just that- understanding what that patient experience is at all touch points. And then changing or managing that experience to its fullest potential for the benefit of the patient and the organization. Patient experience is an integrating process across the entire organization internally and externally.  One organization to the patient, one patient to the organization. It is not simply another quality program or flavor of the day. 
Understanding and Executing Demand Management
The hospital is no longer the center of the healthcare universe.  In the age of consumer-directed health care, hospital admission is a defect in the process of care. Marketing needs to understand what the demand for healthcare services will be, when they will be needed and manage that demand is making sure that the hospital or health system has the right resources, in the right place, at the right time to meet demand. Telemedicine, digital health, non-traditional providers, in-home self-care, Uber for affordable, accessible on-demand transportation, all play a role in that demand management.  Gone are the days of hospital marketing departments driving demand to fill the beds. The need is to drive demand to the appropriate care setting and location of service.
I purposefully did not write about how to accomplish the needed transformation, as this focus is directionally strategic. It starts with the strategy of focus and direction, then to tactics, and finally execution. There are no longer any simple answers to what has been neglected for all these years in hospital and health system marketing as the market has evolved. Turning a slow-moving, hulking battleship 180 degrees to be more responsive to the healthcare consumer and patient takes time.
Always remember those wise words of Sun Tzu in The Art of War, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest road to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
There sure is a lot of noise from hospitals and health systems in the marketplace.
As you can see (pun intended), I had my retinal detachment surgery last week Monday, and I am back at it already. There are some limitations like no driving for a couple of weeks and not going over 1,000 feet in elevation or flying for eight weeks, which is better than what it could have been. The surgical procedure took 30-minutes in the outpatient surgical suite in the physician’s office. Never set foot in, or needed to be in, a hospital-based outpatient center.
Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in  52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing & social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, call Michael at 815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.

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