Monday, August 09, 2004

Educating the Healthcare Consumer versus Information Overload

Educating the Healthcare Consumer versus Information Overload

Author Heath Shackleford discusses the increasing importance of educating and targeting healthcare consumers as part of a well-rounded marketing plan. He advocates providing consumer-level educational materials provided they can be tied directly to the branding efforts of the healthcare provider.

Also of particular interest to me was a section on the creative use of available marketing channels:

"Research shows that 75 percent of people are using the Internet for health information, while 77 percent are getting knowledge from physicians. Additionally, about 40 percent turn to family and friends, while publications such as journals and books serve as a significant resource for 35 percent...According to a recent RAND health study, people surfing the Web for health information are much more likely to use a search engine than go to a particular web site, but when they type in "diabetes" in Google, they are likely to get more than 6 million links."

Shackleford presents the above situation as a case of client information overload that might call for the creation of a more structured form of patient information delivery. While it is definitely true that sifting through several million links could qualify as "information overload", rather than develop new ways of reaching consumers, some healthcare marketers are instead using search engine marketing techniques to place their websites at the top of the rankings for these patient searches.

My company FirstRanked Healthcare was founded to target exactly this opportunity and our healthcare clients can attest to the effectiveness of these search engine marketing strategies. As a result of our marketing efforts, their patients are finding the information they need and our healthcare clients are realizing an excellent return on their advertising investment.

What's the Difference Between Your Hospital and the Other?

What's the Difference Between Your Hospital and the Other?

Applies marketing fundamentals of product differentiation to the healthcare provider marketplace. Author Gary Campbell backs the concept of focusing on just one aspect of the healthcare provision process (operational efficiency, low cost services, customer service) as a means to differentiate a hospital from the rest of its local healthcare market.

It's an interesting POV and it appeals to my personal belief in universal business fundamentals. However, given the sensitive nature of the services they provide and the public’s perception of the healthcare industry, I believe that hospitals may be much more limited in their ability to focus down on any one of these issues than a typical business. While it's acceptable for Southwest Airlines to cut back on peanuts and free drinks in order to be the "low-cost" airline leader, a healthcare provider must take extra care not to give the impression of compromising either operational efficiency or customer service in the pursuit of low cost service.

Overall however I’d say a good article and an excellent strategy for marketing healthcare services.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Measuring the Return on Internet Marketing

"Healthcare organizations face two important challenges today with respect to using the Internet in marketing. The first is what to do next...The second challenge is in justifying what has already been spent and finding ways to measure return-on-investment (ROI) for current interactive marketing efforts."
Measuring the return on Internet marketing

Integrating the Internet into Traditional Healthcare Marketing Programs

Just read an interesting 2002 HealthLeaders article on the topic of integrating Internet marketing into traditional healthcare campaigns. The marketing ideas in the article aren't very novel, but it does give a great six-part breakdown of the different ways that the Internet can be utilized for marketing purposes:

1. Advertising medium
2. Customer service/contact center
3. Transaction vehicle
4. Information resource
5. Health/disease management tool
6. Direct marketing channel

Integrating the Internet into traditional marketing programs