Healthcare has historically been among the slowest industries to embrace new marketing strategies, but the pandemic has changed that. Take telehealth for example. Since the pandemic, use of telehealth virtual care has soared 38 times higher than before COVID-19. Consumers embraced telehealth because it provided a way to avoid coronavirus exposure and honor social distancing and quarantines while saving them time and money.
With 78 percent of patients saying they were somewhat or extremely satisfied with virtual care, providers scrambled to create marketing strategies such as personalized email campaigns aimed at promoting their suddenly popular telehealth services to individual patients. Consumers like the convenience, and coronavirus’ ongoing mutations and surges suggest telehealth may be a permanent feature in the healthcare marketplace in the future.
To promote their telehealth services most effectively, providers need personalized healthcare marketing strategies. So, what is personalized healthcare? It means recognizing and treating the consumer as a unique individual with a unique health history and circumstances, who is receiving relevant content and a hassle-free patient experience.
Personalized healthcare marketing anticipates an individual’s needs and highlights the most appropriate and desired services for them at just the right time. According to Salesforce, 80% of customers say the experiences provided by a company are as important to them as its products and services.
To compete most effectively, providers need to employ personalized healthcare marketing strategies. Here are 10 worth considering:
1. Improve Patient Engagement
Meaningful patient engagement can be extremely time intensive. That’s why you need to use technology to automate as much patient engagement as possible. In many cases, automation helps improve patient satisfaction. To build more personalized patient relationships after they leave your office, you can send:
- Appointment reminders
- Lab result notifications
- Preventive care reminders
- Medication reminders
- Holiday and birthday messages
- Vaccine availability notifications
- Follow-up care messages
- Promotional messages
- Satisfaction surveys
- Health surveys
The importance of sending such reminders, notifications, messages, and surveys is backed by research. For example:
- 94 percent of providers believe that interventions like text reminders or phone follow-ups support patients in following a prescribed care plan
- 71 percent of consumers say it is very or somewhat important to their health that they have customized alerts and receive reminders and notifications about screenings or checkups
2. Expand Office Hours and Models of Care
If your practice or organization isn’t offering flexible hours, alternatives to in-office visits and after-hours care alternatives, you’re probably already losing business. Today’s healthcare consumers want convenience and fast, frictionless, on-demand access to care. That includes face-to-face communication with their healthcare providers either in-person or virtually and faster, more flexible options such as text messages, emails, online patient portals, live chat, and after hours and weekend care services via telemedicine or minute clinics.
- 92 percent of consumers say convenience is an important factor when choosing their primary care provider
- 54 percent of consumers want holistic care options that are open-ended, flexible, and unique
- 37 percent have scheduled virtual visits to save money or time
3. Offer Telehealth & Hybrid Options
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth, and hybrid care options like minute clinics were novelties. Today, they’ve become woven deeply into the fabric of the American consumer healthcare experience.
According to Healthcare Finance, almost 88% of Americans want to continue using telehealth for nonurgent consultations after the pandemic. Patients like this alternative care model because it offers more affordable, accessible, and convenient care that effectively diverts them from costlier care settings like emergency rooms.
Providers like telehealth because it can save them money. A study from the American Journal of Emergency Medicine shows that remote care saved up to $121 per patient when comparing online consultations to traditional doctor visits. Virtual visits can improve patient engagement with check-ins, medication monitoring, and management of chronic conditions.
4. Provide Online Appointment Scheduling
Another helpful strategy is online appointment scheduling. After all, wait times for healthcare services are twice as long as for other service categories. But when you offer patients the option to schedule their own appointments online, you save them the time they would normally spend calling your office and interacting with your staff. Providers benefit by reducing those inbound calls to their staff and streamlining patient flow in their reception areas. Remote self-scheduling and real-time appointments are valuable tools that your healthcare practice should consider implementing immediately.
Engaging healthcare consumers with more personalized experiences at every touchpoint is crucial in the post-COVID era. Healthcare providers should understand and accommodate consumers’ communication preferences, personal needs, and habits. They should also take advantage of computers, tablets, smart phones, and web-based technologies that offer more accessible, flexible, and affordable care options to attract and retain patients.
5. Develop a Stronger Customer Persona
A customer persona is a fictional person who represents a group of patients with significant similarities. Healthcare patient personas are critical for helping health practices identify their target audience’s wants and needs based on personal data, demographics, health status, emotional attitudes, values, and individual personalities within your market.
A customer persona humanizes the healthcare experience because it looks, feels, and acts like your prospects. Accurate customer personas can help your healthcare business gain:
- Lower marketing costs by eliminating wasteful efforts to reach patients who do not fit your most desirable patient personas
- Higher engagement rates by aiming your messaging at the most desirable patient personas
- More effective marketing campaigns that reach only the right target audience
- More informed keyword research to identify specific keywords used by your target audience
- Higher organic website traffic generated by engaging your target audience directly
- Lower bounce rates when you engage your most desirable patient personas
6. Conduct Personalized Outreach with Targeted Emails
Once you’ve identified your target audience and created customer personas to understand what motivates them, you can conduct personalized email outreach that attracts patients and drives engagement. You can even automate your targeted emails, saving time and money.
When combined with proper content targeting strategies, marketing automation and email personalization can generate an ROI of around 4,300%. Personalized emails always address the patient by name and speak to the patient’s personal interests. That makes personalized email a must-have healthcare marketing strategy and the jewel in your multi-channel marketing crown.
7. Create Website Content for Your Target Audience
To instill trust and build lasting relationships with patients, you can create helpful and relevant website content aimed at your target audience. This is particularly true for healthcare practices that offer secure online patient portals, which are highly desirable for users. You can also promote relevant blogs or web pages based on recent search terms that prospects have used, along with their medical histories, current medical conditions, and user preferences. When creating web content, you should consider the following:
- The average American reads at a 7th or 8th grade level
- Your writing style should be clear, conversational, and informative
- Cover health topics that are most relevant to your target audience
- Promote personalized content via blogs that focus on topics that interest health consumers, eBooks, case studies, emails, custom landing pages, and social media to see which resonates the most with your audience
8. Develop a User-Friendly Website
What makes a user-friendly website? First and foremost, it should be responsive to various devices and screen sizes. According to Pew Research, 85% of Americans own smart phones, up from 35% in 2011 and 97% own a cellphone of some kind. You can create a more user-friendly patient experience on your website by:
- Including statistics and links to your sources to build trust with consumers
- Offering an accessible, affordable, and flexible telemedicine option to support more patients
- Offering easy online appointment scheduling
- Including clearly labeled, easy-to-find resources such as FAQs, accepted health plans, billing information, new patient documents, and your contact information
- Conducting a core web vitals report to identify and correct poor user experiences on your website.
Many smartphone users have used their mobile devices to gather health-related information. Pew Research cited that number at 62%, making mobile health a more common smartphone search activity than online banking (57%), job searches (42%) or accessing school work or educational content (30%).
9. Build an Omnichannel Experience
People aren’t just searching for information on their desktops. Successful practices need to consider all the ways consumers get information, including smartphones, tablets, and Google searches. Giving healthcare consumers access to the most relevant content when and where they want it is critical for achieving a personalized healthcare experience. Patients want to feel personally connected to your content and services. Some of the most effective omnichannel healthcare marketing strategies include:
- Sending personalized appointment reminders
- Offering online appointment scheduling
- Enabling self-serve information on patient portals including lab results, insurance claim status and prescription refills
- Sending personalized email messages based on individual patient needs and preferences
- Maintaining consistent messaging across all channels, so patients recognize your brand
- Enabling patient feedback to help improve the patient experience
10. Get Social
Finally, there’s healthcare social media marketing. Whether you’re answering frequently asked questions or interacting with current or prospective patients one-on-one, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter provide an excellent method for personalizing the user experience and increasing consumer engagement.
If you really want to nurture and grow long-term relationships with today’s healthcare consumers, you must first adopt a patient-first approach in your healthcare marketing—and that means embracing current technologies and new business models. When you do personalization well, your business will gain patient volume and increase revenue.
To learn more about personalized healthcare marketing strategies and how you can use them to attract more patients and grow your practice, look to the nation’s leading healthcare marketing agency.