Digital Meets Traditional in Healthcare Marketing [Podcast]

In this week’s episode of the Lead to Loyal™ podcast, we discuss the convergence of traditional and digital in healthcare marketing.

I had the immense pleasure of being joined by Dan Dunlop, Principal at Jennings Healthcare Marketing, and our own, Chad Campbell.

Dan is a nationally recognized healthcare marketer, innovator, brand consultant, blogger, author, and sought-after speaker, regularly serving on the faculty of national and regional healthcare conferences. Chad’s healthcare expertise stems from his experience leading successful projects for clients such as Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Catholic Medical Center, and York Hospital as well as his position on the Board at NESHCo, the New England Society for Healthcare Communications.

Listen above or continue reading for some of the podcast highlights.

Dan, you shared on your blog that this has been “a good week for digital engagement in healthcare.” Is this healthcare marketing finally embracing digital?

Dan Dunlop: Yes, I think it is. That’s why I wrote the blog post. I was so excited. In the case of the blog for Copley Hospital – it’s a collaborative community blog. Chad and the team at SilverTech worked with my team at Jennings and we all worked with the client.

What’s new about this is it’s a blog written by representatives from community organizations. So people from the local health department, different organizations, and nonprofits. They come together, they contribute blog posts to help inform members of the community about good health and a healthy lifestyle. To me, that’s the future of healthcare. It’s certainly the future of healthcare marketing.

It’s not spewing crap at the consumers, which is what we do in advertising.

We basically spew information at one direction at consumers. And, what this blog aims to do is engage consumers and inform consumers.

That’s what it’s going to take as we look at creating a more healthy population down the line, it’s absolutely going to take that kind of involvement, education, and engagement.

Dan, you’ve referred to the inward focus of healthcare marketing as narcissism. What can healthcare organizations do to move away from this “market at them, not with them” approach?

DD: It’s an industry that wasn’t built around the patient. If you look at old hospitals, they aren’t comfortable, they aren’t accommodating. They just weren’t built for the comfort and life of the patient. Try and make an appointment with a physician or doctor at a hospital, it’s a struggle. You should be able to go online and click, “make an appointment” and it’s done. But at the majority of hospitals in America, you cannot book an appointment online. You might be able to request an appointment online, but that shows how non patient-centric we really are.

It’s only in the past few years as we’ve started building new hospitals that are designed to be patient-friendly and to be healing environments [that this has changed].

So the industry is starting to adapt and say, “hey, this is about the patient.” We’re starting to make that transition and we [also] need to make that transition from a marketing perspective.

Chad Campbell: It is a transitional time. [For example], we work with a hospital that has online appointment setting. They were excited about it. We put it on the website, and it’s pretty slick. But, [what] we found was there was no continuum past the marketing department. So, once a patient actually arrives for their appointment, there’s no online channel that’s speaking to them, saying “hey, are you here yet? Or, we’ll be with you in a few minutes.”

I said to the CEO of this organization, when I take my kids for a haircut, I can do it online and then when we walk into our appointment it is up on the screen when we are supposed to be checking in and where we are in the queue. We’re not doing that as healthcare providers. Just having that online appointment setting is not enough, it’s got to go a step further. The problem is that it’s a lot of work and it’s complex.

DD: Consumers are used to the Amazon experience. So, we need to be as good as Amazon, not just as good as the hospital down the street.

Let’s discuss the opportunity video presents for healthcare marketers. Dan, you have, appropriately enough, a video on the Jennings website, that makes a case for digital physician relations. Can you speak to some of the benefits of using video and digital content?

DD: I think there are so many ways you can use video in healthcare marketing. What better way to market your organization than have your patients tell their stories? If I go to someone’s website and they’re talking about how great they are, to me, that’s not that compelling as a consumer. But, if I go to that same website or an online community that that hospital has created and there are videos of patients telling their stories, about going through this program, what it meant to their life, how it changed their life, how wonderfully they were treated, I’m going to sign up. I’m ready to go to that hospital and enroll in that particular program and sign up with that physician.

We take for granted, too how important it is to select the right physician. That’s a huge moment. You want the patient to select a physician that they’re going to have open communication with and that takes a relationship. You have to trust that person. So, why not introduce the physician to the patient through video.

CC: I think there’s also a lot of opportunity for video in pediatrics. A lot of times what happens, [is] you have a baby and then all of sudden there are pediatricians doing rounds and you don’t know them, but you have to pick somebody. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there for that type of engagement because there’s a need and a want.

One of the things I notice as I read your blog, etc. Dan, is that you genuinely believe that marketing can build communities and improve health: Would you say that healthcare organizations have a responsibility to their patients to embrace the new – content marketing, social media marketing, digital video?

DD: I would absolutely say that hospitals and health systems have an obligation to embrace this new way of communication. Because what’s happening is, patients are seeking out information online whether we like it or not. And there’s no Good Housekeeping Seal of approval for healthcare content. There’s good content and crappy content out there but no one to tell you which is which. If healthcare systems aren’t creating platforms for patients to come and share their stories and ask questions and communicate with clinicians online, they are going elsewhere and doing it. So they’re going to communities created by pharmaceuticals and other companies where I question their motives.