Knowing Your Patients: The Foundation for Effective Healthcare Marketing

Knowing Your Patients: The Foundation for Effective Healthcare Marketing

As a part of our series Sip & Strategize: Exploring Health Systems Business Strategy, in this session, we dive into how healthcare systems can get to know their patients before beginning a marketing campaign. Watch the interview, or read below!

Mary: Hi, everybody! Welcome to our newest series at Solv, Sip and Strategize: exploring health system business strategy where twice every month I get to sit down with and chat with our chief medical officer, Dr. Rob Rohatch, about the latest trends, initiatives, or themes in health care that impact health system business. Given, it's summertime, and often this means patient volume is lower or fluctuating. I wanted to kick off our series today, talking about how to build new patient relationships for health systems. Dr. Rob, to start things off. Can you speak to what you see as the first step in creating a new patient relationship marketing campaign?

Dr. Rob: Yeah, Mary, it's a good question. I think there's an old traditional way of thinking about patients as somehow different than shopping customers that have a choice. And I think if you take the stance today in that regard, you're gonna pay the price as a system. There's a ton of money flowing into making sure that the patients taking the driver's seat, now in terms of their health care. So patients are customers. They're shopping today, and there's evidence of that. So you know, it had negative connotations to the word customers in healthcare in the past. But things are different now, and just like the banking institution years ago, decided to dig in on truly understanding who their customers were and what they wanted, and most importantly, what they needed, healthcare is in that exact same transformational period right now.

Mary: Hmm! Interesting. And so given this shift to patients being seen as consumers. Where does a health system begin to understand their patients in this way?

Dr. Rob: Yeah, I think a lot of systems have begun to lay the groundwork for this, but I kind of see it as 3 basic things that you can do to get started right away.

  1. One is truly understanding on an aggregate basis who your patients are. There are a lot of customers that really can decipher demographic analysis for a living, and they can tell you kind of what their behaviors are, and how they spend their free health care dollars. For example, things like advertising colors they're very important and truly understanding on a wide basis who your customers are, and how they over-index, perhaps to some of your facilities. For example, certain types of customers have certain attributes. Certain types of these patients can come to your facilities more often than other patients that are only slightly different than them. And that's very important to understand that information on a sub-market-by-sub-market basis.
  2. The second thing you can do is once you sort of understand your patients in the aggregate who they are in your system, you can drill down and try to create a single persona. So a single address of someone who uses your facilities on a pretty regular basis. And I've seen this person get very deep things like 4, one K portfolio analysis how they're spending their free healthcare dollars, that kind of things who lives in their household. Do they have an elderly in-law that requires services at home? Those kinds of things can be built into these personas and make people see this person as actual people in their markets and create a human aspect to how we sort of see our patience.
  3. And I think a third way is, is digging deep into the voice of the consumer. So we do a lot of work around net promoter scores and different types of surveys that are important in health care. But I think, hearing what the consumer saying, both when we miss the mark and sort of leave them a little bit high and dry. They don't get their expectations met, but also when we crush it, when we actually deliver services above and beyond what's expected, hearing that frustration and folks' voices hearing the inflection when they're excited. That we did a great job can be extremely powerful, and it can be very motivating to the online staff at the front end, both from the management side as well as the frontline employees.

    Mary: Yeah, I think I think this makes a lot of sense. I'm curious after you've understood who your patient is. How does that impact marketing or attracting that patient to care?

    Dr. Rob: So it's connecting these big dots, right? So understanding and knowing our patients. But we have to bring that all the way over to the other side. So I think understanding and really knowing our patients on our on our greater level, brings that sort of soft science in, and at the end of the day we're in the business of making people feel better. And I don't think that has to imply just curing some type of pathologic disease state. We make people feel better in a lot of different ways. But they're all built

    around trust. And so from a business perspective, we've spoken a lot throughout my career around building. Trust both with your customers as well as folks that work with and for you, and that's centered around sort of critical points. Reliability. When you add to credibility, and you add that to intimacy, and by intimacy I mean knowing who your folks are, you're trying to build trust with you. Divide those 3 things after you, add them all up by self-interest, and then that is trust. And so we need to do a better job of that of really understanding and building reliability, so doing it right every single time we see patients. credibility is how we're looked at in the marketplace brand recognition and those kinds of things. And then intimacy is what we're talking about today, understanding what our patient's true concerns are and understanding that reassurance alone. Sometimes when folks think they might be sick or hurt, but truly are doing okay alone by themselves, can be of great value. So I think that's very important to build trust in our communities.

    Mary: Thank you, Dr. Rob, this has been really great. I'm off that last point about intimacy. and knowing our patience. Is there anything as we wrap up our conversation today? How you, how you can tie this all together, how leaders should think about tying this together?

    Dr. Rob: Yeah, I think you build. You build trust with the folks you know who they are, and that's how you do that. And I think the last thing is bringing it all together. When I was an executive and sort of the nonprofit health system world, we used to say all the time “no money, no mission”, because we talk a lot about what we needed to do as a health system, taking care of our folks. But if we can't make the numbers work behind the scenes. We're not going to be able to do it. So financial health and these institutions are absolutely critical. And the best way to ensure that happens is to make sure. For example, the dots are connected between the Senior Vice President of Patient Experience to the CFO’s office. That's extremely paramount. So once you know who your core customers are, then you can sort of dig into it. What's the lifetime value of these customers? What is it costing me to acquire these customers into our system? And then we can take it from there to really build a strategic framework around how to know and understand who folks are in our markets, and make sure we're taking care of them that they deserve.

    Mary: Thank you so much, Dr. Rob, for your time today. and everybody stay tuned next time for more thoughts on patient acquisition and patient access.

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