Running a hospital is a constant balancing act. Clinical excellence is juggled with streamlining processes and increasing profits. In all this complexity, hospital marketing may not always get the attention it needs. Hospitals provide vital care that patients undoubtedly need so a lack of awareness regarding the hospital’s services, locations or qualities helps no one. If you think your hospital marketingmay need a booster shot, read below for five ways to get started:
1.) Research Your Patients- You may have a feedback system in place but the questions likely focus on existing services and practices. This can help to fine-tune processes but it won’t provide much insight into the strengths and weaknesses of current marketing practices or new opportunity areas. Understanding why people choose your hospital and what they perceive as excellent, unsatisfactory or entirely absent is the crucial first step to a successful marketing campaign.
Hospital consultants can be a huge help in this process because they are independent so patients can give candid feedback guilt-free. You can also take advantage of the experience hospital consultants have conducting market research. Instead of starting from scratch on your own, good hospital consultants will come prepared with the right questions, reliable data collection methods and a final analysis with insights specific to your situation but polished by years of experience dealing with qualitative patient feedback.
2.) Research Your Competition- Once you have a clear idea of what patients want, you need to understand how they are or are not currently getting it. This means a full understanding of your own service offerings but, moreover, an understanding of what else is available. It can be tricky to conduct comprehensive research on your competition without raising suspicion so hiring hospital consultants to assist with this step may be wise. Hospital consultants have extensive networks in the healthcare industry that they can leverage to get the information required.
It’s critical to focus on differentiating factors between you and the competition. Are there any differences in the service menu offered? Are there differences in pricing or timings or packages or method of delivery? Are there any gaps? If your research uncovers services which patients are demanding but the local market is not currently providing, this is a perfect opportunity.
3.) Determine Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)- Taking the results of your patient and competitive landscape research, assess the available opportunities. Try to create a comprehensive list of all the small or large changes that could make a difference in revenues. Begin by listing services that are entirely unavailable in the surrounding area, services that are only offered at certain times, or services that do not currently have premium upgrade options. For example, take dialysis. If it’s available, are there restricted timings? Is there a “deluxe” option or does everyone offer the same basic facilities?
Encourage creativity and innovation. Consider the entire list and narrow it down to the most feasible options that aren’t too difficult to implement. Again, the focus here is on being different so one or more of these shortlisted options will eventually become the unique selling propositions (USPs) for your hospital. The hospital marketing campaign will center on highlighting these USPs in various ways.
4.) Choose High-Impact Interventions- Consider the shortlisted options against the potential for revenue. Ideally, the first services to marketing more aggressively will be those where additional patients make a large contribution to revenue. Major surgeries have very high margins but competition is fierce so marketing is more expensive. Minor surgery like appendectomy is quite common but the low net profit on each procedure means marketing would have to bring in higher volumes. Hospital marketing is an ongoing operation so managing costs wisely is critical.
If the actual end cost of a given procedure is hard to determine, perhaps it requires multiple departments or has variable consumables costs, it might help to have hospital consultants conduct an in-depth analysis of the hospital’s operations. Such analysis can answer specific questions, like how much a certain procedure actually costs, but it may also yield important insights into existing cost structures and resource allocation. It helps to ensure that time and money is being invested appropriately.
5.) Design Your Hospital Marketing Campaign- When you’ve selected a final service or product to market, carefully design a marketing campaign that reaches the most likely patients in the most effective manner. Remember that marketing is more than mass communications. While traditional methods like hoardings, TV commercials or print ads play an important role in hospital marketing, there are many other options that might just be better suited to your particular product. A PR strategy that includes proactively engaging the media can be a big boost. Outreach programs like public health camps or corporate health days bring your best asset – clinical staff – directly to potential patients. For services where most patients come by referral, then a targeted Continuing Medical Education program might be the best way to reach doctors. If you’re focusing on a tech-savvy patient segment, social media and digital marketing is a crucial element.
The many elements of a successful integrated marketing campaign can be difficult to implement and evaluate effectively. Supplementing your existing marketing team with experienced hospital marketing consultants can help. In addition to conducting time-consuming research and providing keen advice throughout the process, hospital consultants have excellent tools for tracking and evaluating the impact of hospital marketing. Hospital consultants provide the evidence you need to decide whether the marketing campaign was ultimately successful.
5 Ways to Jump Start Hospital Marketing