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Health Systems Need a Lesson on Integrated Marketing

As I sat through another conference that discussed how health care needs to get patients more engaged and focused on their health, I started to daydream to the late nineties. You remember the good old days when our president was being derailed for not being our moral compass and objectifying women. I recalled sitting in meetings that were just as boring surrounding how to get consumers engaged.

Major retailers like Safeway and Kroger were touting their new race track store layouts that put the shopper first by creating categories of product together like the breakfast aisle to make shopping easier. Home Depot and Lowes spent millions of dollars in labor hours making sure their stores have plenty of cross sell opportunities like putting dust pans and brushes in the lumber aisle.

All of these efforts were geared to make the shopping experience easier for the shopper and more profitable for the store. Same store sales and sales per square foot became the benchmarks for measuring your success.

At the same time, CPG companies were investing heavily in data to understand who their target shopper was, what drove them to buy and how to reach them because people were “fast forwarding” through commercials and spending more time on their computer. They were also focused on selling more to the customers they already had. The transaction cost was (and remains) much lower and they were your main brand advocates.

The solution then for the retail world as it is now for health systems was to create focused integrated marketing plans that reached potential users before, during and after their time of need. Interactive technologies and unique point of purchases displays enhanced the shopping environment. Advertising moved outside of traditional print, billboard and TV media to include in aisle couponing, floor graphics, ceiling danglers, email marketing, web advertising, customized offers due to shopping card purchases and more.

The consumer responded to this renewed interest in selling by buying everything in sight. Retailers opened stores with reckless abandon and we entered a golden age of retail.

Health systems need to learn from these lessons and focus on patient engagement, satisfaction, and experience in the same manner. And it all starts with Marketing, Clinic Level Operations and IT.

Marketing needs to stop trying to constantly bring new blood into their health system and focus on their current patients. These people are the ones who are already trusting you with their health. Take the time to thank them, listen to them, and collaborate with them. Create simple, but effective campaigns targeted by modality or demographic to help those people live better. Explain to the patient your whole health system service profile, but focus on the ones that they need most. Radiology and PT in Orthopedic offices, pediatricians and your maternity ward in OBGYN.

The Clinic level operations people need to understand that their job is not to see 40 patients a day, but to treat 40 people a day. These people need your undivided attention in 15-minute bursts so they can get healthier. Just like a frenzy like Tickle Me Elmo, patients will tell their friends and families about the great service they received from a healthcare provider.

IT needs to split their focus on both improving the operational aspect of the health system by implementing EMRs and the like, but they also need to develop and utilize technologies that are patient focused from a user standpoint. Point and click patient video education will work much better than your current methods. Way finders and interactive displays help enhance the patient experience. IT should own the data side of these projects as well and deliver pertinent reports to the affected areas- clinical, marketing, and finance.

Most of all, health systems should work with companies like Halo Health who have that unique experience of living through the consumer engagement age and are working in the patient experience realm. Our digital education platforms help you reach patients at the time of need as well as after their care. Each solution from Halo addresses your population as a whole and in segments for less than the cost of a cup of coffee per day.

If you’d like to learn more, contact us at 856-520-8655 or

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