Bill Swanston

As the world turns, so does effective hospital marketing.

We all remember it (or at least many of us do) – the days when hospital marketing was simple and more direct. Up until recently, hospitals relied heavily on doctors to bring in patients. This rather passive marketing approach to generate hospital revenue began to change as a few hospitals asked themselves the simple question, “why aren’t we offering potential and existing customers our services in appealing, direct marketing channels?”  Then, the Internet came about; digital communication became crucial. The Affordable Care Act has made the patient experience more transparent – and word about a hospital, service or doctor now spreads quickly – good news OR bad news!

As a result, a growing trend started. Hospitals started establishing most or all of the following:

  • Loyalty programs, such as giving potential patients gift store discounts, credit cards, free parking, seminars and “how to” programs
  • Hospital-sponsored wellness programs and healthy lifestyle clinics
  • Discounts on specific procedures
  • Accountable Care Organizations with narrow networks, but reduced cost to patients
  • And mergers, mergers, mergers

As hospitals realized these outreach programs both attracted new customers and kept existing customers loyal, these hospitals moved cautiously ahead into the world of consumer marketing. And, now that they have dipped their toes into marketing, many hospitals realize there is an enormous and previously untapped market opportunity for hospitals to generate tremendous new business by offering services to past and present patrons. So CRMs and Big Data are taking the front seat in many marketing discussions.

This approach has opened the doors to the opportunity for hospitals to market new and updated health-related products and services to their customers and potential customers. The below are educational offerings/strategic approaches most hospitals advertise and promote:

  • Keys to living a healthy life
  • How the hospital and its staff can help you minimize your family’s health care costs
  • Tips on various health care insurance programs
  • What new procedures and cures are being worked on and have the promise of delivering cures for health problems

We believe everyone will continue seeing the trend of hospitals across the U.S., actively building consumer and patient loyalty programs through related marketing activities and channels. As we better understand the demographics and psychographics of our ideal customer, it becomes more efficient to market directly to him/her and capture him/her into your network. The benefits to the hospitals that adapt this marketing approach seem obvious, but what will the impact be on the entire health care industry? What will be the impact on the many doctors and health care professionals? And, lastly, on the nation’s economy as we hope to reduce costs?

Only time will reveal the various benefits and obstacles facing hospitals and their direct and aggressive marketing of their services.