Think health, not health care. Wellness, not sickness. Prevention, not treatment.
Several hospitals and health systems around the country already get it. Take a look at Mercy Health in Cincinnati. Notice how their homepage carousel frames its orthopedics message: "Orthopaedic care to help you be well." They are not talking first about repairing broken bones; they want you to know they can keep them strong.
Why are we changing the conversation?
Two factors are changing how we think about health care, and hospitals in particular:
- Accountable Care Organizations: There are more than 150 ACOs in the country today, with hundreds more expected to apply in 2013. An ACO is a health system that controls costs and stays competitive by keeping patients healthy.
- Baby Boomers: This take-charge generation is getting older, but don’t expect them to take it lightly. Fiercely independent Boomers are interested in preventive care, making their own health decisions and staying active. (And nearly 80 percent of them are searching for health information online.)
Top 5 marketing changes you can make NOW
1. Dust off these programs: Chances are, your hospital already offers amazing preventive care opportunities. They’re just buried somewhere on your website, or not there at all. Try scouring your lobby’s bulletin board. Pay more attention to department flyers. Consider highlighting the following:
2. Create an online wellness center: Many large academic medical centers and even small community hospitals have created wellness centers like this one. That’s a brick-and-mortar change you can’t make as a marketer. But you can build the online equivalent: a wellness page, with tips for nutrition, exercise, stress relief, etc. Add a blog and link to community resources. Post videos interviewing staff dieticians and physical therapists. Many hospitals today host their own weekly farmers markets. Yours isn’t one of them? Do the next-best thing and link to every local market, listing the hours and directions.
3. Get to know your primary care team: Your neurosurgeons are national leaders. The vascular team is cutting edge. What do you say about the average PCP? Get creative, because they are best to identify problems and intervene early – which is key to the ACO business model. It’s your job to market your physician practice to make sure patients see their primary care doctors and avoid costly procedures later.
4. Re-think your technology: Your most impressive equipment will only treat the sickest patients. It’s important to brag about having the latest, cutting-edge technology that sets you apart from the competition. But don’t lose track of the bread-and-butter imaging services that are so important. Put a new spin on how you market your imaging lab, for example. It may get more people to book their mammogram or colonoscopy.
5. Learn a new vocabulary: The last tip is the easiest and least expensive. Change the words you use. Remember the Mercy Health example I use above. They didn’t need to re-write their orthopedics microsite in order to tease it differently from the homepage. The phrase "orthopaedic care to keep you well" does so much to drive home a new type of messaging – and it only required a place in the homepage carousel and some stock art. You can do this for any of your hospital departments.