In today’s disconnected COVID world, marketing’s job is harder than ever before. What worked before the pandemic isn’t necessarily going to work today. Here are 5 creative ways health systems are reaching out to patients, prospects and even donors that you can also use to drive success and growth this year and next.
#1 Use COVID Tests to Grow Primary Care
People with symptoms or who have been exposed are turning to you for COVID-19 testing and care. This experience is often their first interaction with your system, but it doesn’t have to be their last. When patients come in for a COVID test, they are making their health a priority. We are seeing clients use this opportunity to position themselves for future care by telling them about which primary care providers are accepting new patients, as well as promoting other services and specialists.
#2 Don’t Let Up on Offering Mental Health Support
The mental health toll of the pandemic is significant, and you can build lasting relationships by supporting individuals in the months ahead. Trust in healthcare systems and providers is at an all-time high. Strategic organizations are extending this authority to support holistic health, including mental health, by offering resources people can use outside of the traditional clinical setting. Don’t start from scratch. Our clients are weaving existing content on topics like exercise, sleep, nutrition, relaxation, and life balance in outreach into existing communications, like email newsletters or on-hold announcements. It’s also good to remind people that telehealth visits are available for behavioral health appointments too.
#3 Offer a Health Risk Assessment
Health risk assessments (HRAs) are great lead generators, with prospects comprising 70-80% of people taking them. The information collected will help you better target prospects for future care, as well as identify holistic health needs you can support with things like mental health programs or virtual ways to address loneliness. We’re observing that now is an especially good time to offer an HRA as people are likely to take one to establish health risks to decide if – and when – they really need to make an appointment based on the scores they receive. This is a smart way to drive service line growth during this unusual time.
#4 Tap Public Goodwill to Boost Fundraising Efforts
Healthcare philanthropy has never been more important as it will fill the gap from lost clinical revenues and provide healthcare heroes with the PPE and essential equipment they need to treat COVID patients. We’ve seen great examples of health systems leveraging news coverage, including local stories, to engage individual donors and large corporations alike. Making it easy to contribute with an online donation site for COVID emergency funds is essential. And publicizing the impact of these donations fosters relationships and loyalty with these donors.
#5 Raise the Bar with Multi-Channel Campaigns
The most successful campaigns we are seeing are leveraging 3-4 channels to boost the effectiveness of the call-to-action, a tactic Gartner Research shows can boost engagement by up to 300%. Digitally surround people by combining SMS with email and 1:1 social media matching. SMS (text) in particular is increasingly being added and is an easy way to deploy and provide quick, targeted information for patients, and with open rates above 95%, you can’t go wrong.
While it’s definitely a challenging time to be in health system marketing, it’s also an exciting one. I challenge you to give one or all of these ideas a hard look and to consider trying something new to help you recoup some of the lost revenues due to COVID.
Board Member, Wisconsin Healthcare Public Relations & Marketing Society
Lead Client Strategist, Welltok