Monday, December 21, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Watching what’s going on in the healthcare online marketing space has been a wild ride in 2009. Hospitals and patient-oriented healthcare organizations had to rethink everything about the way they used to do business. The recession and how the technology around marketing changed the landscape for everyone.
Here is what I think were the top 5 biggest buzz words in the healthcare online marketing space:
1. ROI: Ennui set in long before the debate was done. As Shel Holtz so accurately points out, “Return on Investment, when raised in the board room, is the amount, expressed as a percentage, that is earned on a company’s total capital, calculated by dividing the total capital into earnings before interest, taxes, or dividends are paid. ROI is synonymous with ROR—Rate of Return. A series of precise mathematical formulae are used to calculate ROI.” (I know that seemed really boring to read, and you probably skimmed it but go back! It’s really important to understand.) Therefore, when marketers talk about ROI, they need to be careful, because boardroom execs think about it from a different perspective. For a great report on how to measure market performance for hospitals and health systems, see “Yes we can”, download the PDF and read it. Now.
2. Patient Engagement: Clearly, hospitals think the best way to make healthcare better is to be collaborative; that’s why they’re so stuck on the term multidisciplinary (for more on that, see why I don’t think anyone care about multidisciplinary medicine). But can medicine be made better by collaborations between physicians and patients? I think we’re going to find out, and to learn more about it, read “Making Healthcare Better with Patient Engagement.”
3. Viral Videos: From the dancing down the aisle video, to the cats, everyone is talking about how to get a video to go viral. And hospitals were no exception. From the weird pink gloves that everyone loved, to the videos of physicians talking about their view on patient care, every healthcare organization that was paying any attention created a channel on YouTube.
4. Traditional media vs. social media: Ah, there always must be a war somewhere. The poor journalists who actually check facts and create stories from different sources of information are going the way of the dinosaur. The consumers whose lives are vastly improved because they can ask healthcare questions into deep cyberspace, and get an answer in return are rejoicing in the streets. Right? But how credible is the information? I don't think we've heard the last of traditional media just yet, and I think the hospitals have a tremendous opportunity to become a huge part of that consumer/doctor dialogue.
5. Social media marketing: Need I say anything else? This was THE BUZZ word of 2009 like Gone with the Wind was going to win the Best Picture Oscar in 1939. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, you name it- all healthcare organizations needed to think about how they were going to engage. The brave ones jumped in and learned from their mistakes. Others dipped in a toe. Again, we’ll see how it all shakes out.
So, all in all, 2009 was fun. Predictions for the buzzwords of 2010 in healthcare online marketing? Just some of my guesses- we can look back next year and see if I was right:
2. Healthcare reform impact on healthcare marketing
3. Better search (and I don’t really care who gets us there)
4. Mobile platforms
Thursday, December 17, 2009
As a Web writer for major medical institutions, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve typed the world multidisciplinary, as well as its very distant cousin, interdisciplinary. Multidisciplinary is what healthcare practitioners in highly specialized fields think is the buzz word of the moment. All my clients tell me they are special because this is the type of medicine they practice. But again, this is the sea of sameness, where everyone uses the same messaging.
Multidisciplinary means that different specialists consult on the same case, determining the best course of treatment, based on their area of knowledge. By getting all the experts in the room and on the same page, patients will have better outcomes.
Clearly this is true. The question is: do patients really care? I think most gloss right over the word. It’s big, it has lots of syllables and what does it really mean anyway?
Instead of constantly writing about multidisciplinary medicine, SHOW what it does and how it really can affect patient care and outcomes. Here are a couple of examples of how to avoid the sea of sameness when it comes to this topic in your marketing content:
1.Patient testimonials: let patients describe what it was like to be treated by so many different specialists who were in constant contact with each other. For example, a patient who had melanoma on her nose could talk about how her surgery was planned with the facial plastics reconstructive surgeon in the room. Her return to her natural appearance was faster, because the surgeons and dermatologists worked together.
2.Conferences: some hospitals run multidisciplinary conferences with the newly diagnosed. The patient comes to a conference room, where all the specialists are gathered around the table and meets every health professional on her team: doctors, nutritionists, psychologists, nurses, etc. Bringing a loved one and a tape recorder is recommended so all information is captured. Patients tend to be overwhelmed by the extraordinary amount of information they need to remember when they are being treated for cancer, so extra memory is helpful. During the conference, all the specialists discuss their points of view about the cancer and decide on the best course of treatment and management of the disease.
3.Patient navigators: someone needs to coordinate all this interdiscipline. Some hospitals have patient navigators, who guide patients through the entire process of treatment. Talking about this in your content convinces your patient his needs will be met and individualized.
4.Pictures: these are often forgotten, but showing all the different doctors around a table is a BIG message. You have to be careful, though, because it could alarm patients SO many doctors are needed to treat their cancer. A group shot of no more than 10 should be fine.
5.Step-by-step process guides: if you are running a multidisciplinary clinic, then show your patients in a flow chart what they can expect. First, you will see the surgeon->then you will see the medical oncologist-> then you will see the pain management specialist. People like charts for this kind of thing because it organizes the information visually. For an example, see the picture at the top of this blog post.
So use the word, multidisciplinary, by all means. But don’t think your patients are going to care if they don’t truly understand how it will affect their care.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
For 8 days, Jews everywhere celebrate the holiday of Chanukah, or Hannukah; known as the Festival of Lights. The main commandment of the holiday is to publicize the miracle of Chanukah: a small flask of pure oil was found in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, and instead of lasting just 1 day, it lasted eight days.
The other miracle Jews celebrate is that a small band of Jewish rebels was able to win a war against the Greeks and retake their homeland. Now all of this happened a long, long, time ago (2cnd century BCE, to be exact), but we kindle the lights in front of a window so that passersby can see the beautiful lights of the menorah and comment on the wondrous miracles of the oil and the war.
The problem is: most people don't really know the story of Chanukah. And so the symbol of the menorah has become one associated with Jewish faith, but not necessarily of the miracles that happened so long ago.
Where am I going with this? I think this is a really good metaphor for web content that's hanging out on your website, doing a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y nothing. The connections are no longer there-- just like with the menorah and the publicizing of the miracle. Traditional marketing campaigns used to have a beginning, middle and end. No longer. They just keep going and going. And web content tends to stay up there and stick, even when the connections good content was supposed to make for users are long gone.
Since I'm a big believer in practical solutions, I will offer two:
1. Assign ownership in your organization to someone responsible, who will review content at least once a quarter, and decide if it can be sent to digital heaven. You can pick several someones who will divide the content between them.
2. Give websites a lifespan: 1 year, 6 months, 3 years. Whatever it is, at the end of the cycle, take it down. Just like you can't spend money on commercials advertising one seasonal product forever, so too, web content becomes outdated and insignificant. And trust me, people can still find it. So take it down.