Biggest Priorities for Healthcare Marketers

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09/03/2019 in Blog

Customer experience and analytics were front of mind for the two dozen leading healthcare marketers, who convened at an execuitve forum to discuss their biggest concerns during the recent Healthgrades HealthShare Symposium in Boca Raton, Florida.

The forum focused on key strategies that dovetail with an emphasis on consolidating and integrating the healthcare marketing technology stack. Four key takeaways included the need to continuously focus on patient experiences, the use of journey mapping to better attract and retain patients, the importance of defining key performance indicators for measuring outcomes and ROI, and the value of using data-driven metrics to drive marketing strategy and execution.

1. Focus on Optimizing Patient Experiences

One of today's most important marketing mantras is to focus on delivering consistently positive customer experiences, across devices and platforms. For healthcare marketers that means thinking about everything from how easy it is for a prospective new patient to book an appointment online to what channels are available for an existing patient to communicate with his or her primary care physician.

As most healthcare marketers are keenly aware, many consumers are taking control of their own healthcare by using the internet for research, perusing physician reviews before booking an appointment, and monitoring costs in order to minimize out-of-pocket charges for co-pays or services not covered by insurance.

Consumers, especially younger ones, want streamlined and easy-to-use digital tools. Employers are also embracing, and in some cases leading, disruption in the marketplace. Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan, for example, have started a non-profit called “Haven" to improve healthcare for their 1.2 million combined employees.

Understanding the impact and strategies of non-traditional entrants into the healthcare marketplace will help marketers adapt to the evolving expectations of consumers in order to deliver better healthcare-related user experiences.

2. Use Consumer Journey Mapping Strategically

A journey map provides a holistic and graphical overview of the various touch points in which a patient interacts with a healthcare network. This tool can be used to better understand user experiences at various stages, and to help providers develop policies and procedures to reduce friction and increase satisfaction.

The team at Macadamian, which specializes in software development, notes that journey mapping should start with an initial scenario that details where and how patients interact with their network. The second step is to refine the journey map based on qualitative data gleaned from hospital staff, clinicians, partners and, of course, patients. Next comes the addition of quantitative data that brings in statistics and metrics collected from ongoing service delivery. Finally, all of the information needs to be integrated into an actionable view of mission-critical touch points along a patient's journey.

Customer journey maps often reveal pain points and opportunities for improvement. Understanding those issues can help marketers refine their messaging, and can lead to overall improvements in customer service and, as a result, in user experiences.

While customer journey mapping can benefit multiple departments, from call centers to billing, healthcare marketing teams often initiate them. “Thinking about customer journeys — instead of traditional touch points — can require an operational and cultural shift that engages the organization across functions and from top to bottom," notes a recent McKinsey report. “For the companies that master it, the reward is higher customer and employee satisfaction, revenue and cost improvements, and an enduring competitive advantage."

3. Define Key Performance Indicators

Customer journey mapping can help marketers with another important initiative: defining key performance indicators (KPIs). “KPIs are an actionable scorecard that keeps your strategy on track," explains a post on Biznology. “They enable you to manage, control, and achieve desired business results."

 “You don't need a lot of KPIs to measure your marketing effectiveness.The depth depends on your goals." Phillip Marsicano - vice president of product management

While healthcare KPIs will be network specific, some core indicators include:

  • Conversion rates

  • Bounce rate average across web pages

  • Number of marketing-influenced “purchases," such as scheduled appointments and seminar registrations

  • Number of vetted newsletter subscribers

Ultimately, an organization's KPIs need to be tied to big picture strategic objectives, such as reducing costs or improving outcomes. According to an Econsultancy report, 95% of leading marketers agree that to truly matter, KPIs for marketing must be tied to broader business goals.

4. Harness Data-Driven Metrics

Developing KPIs require marketers to have integrated data that provides insights on everything from website visitors and conversion rates to acquisition costs and ROI.

A recent report on Hubspot, which includes a downloadable metrics “cheat sheet," identified six marketing metrics that CEOs care the most about:

  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) represents an organization's total sales and marketing costs.

  • Marketing as Percentage of Customer Acquisition Cost provides a benchmark for whether spending is too high or too low.

  • Ratio of Customer Lifetime Value to CAC is an estimate of the current value of a customer compared to what is spent to acquire that new customer.

  • Time to Payback CAC measures how long it takes to recoup the cost of obtaining a new patient.

  • Marketing-Originated Customer Percentage shows what percentage of an organization's new business is driven by marketing efforts.

  • Marketing Influenced Customer Percentage accounts for all the new customers in cases where marketing touched and nurtured the lead at any point during the sales process, not just by originating the lead.

Ultimately, hospital leaders need to understand how consumer behavior is shifting in the healthcare sector in order to align their marketing strategies with the best channels for engaging with both new and existing patients.