hospital marketing

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Experience More.

The University Medical Center of Princeton redesigned some hospital rooms so they were more friendly, accommodating, and less hospital-like. A funny thing happened. Patients asked for 30% less pain meds. Less pain meds resulted in more rehab, faster healing and reduced hospital time. Egro lower overall cost. I bet anyone in any country can draw a picture of a typical hospital room. They’re functional, spare with chairs that squeak as moved about the linoleum. Only now is room design a topic of the hospital experience. Someone mixed it up. Someone took a chance. And that’s a good thing.

Extend this thinking to your business, to your category. If you change the expected experience what might be the outcome? Imaging a gasoline station with really clean bathrooms. Imagine a deli line with a waitress taking orders and upselling. Think about a doctor’s waiting room with Netflix at every chair or a grocery store with a bag pre-packed with your weekly staples.

The experience is something not changed enough in marketing. It’s expensive. But when you and the category get stuck in a rut it becomes a topline money issue. Think experience and outcomes, think like a customer, think about refreshing how consumers see your product and category. Not everything will work, but that’s okay. You will still be a step ahead of your competitors. Peace.


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 One of the fastest growing content areas on YouTube (data source: me) is healthcare channels. Hospitals and health systems are uploading talking head videos at an amazing rate. One large nationally recognized hospital recently uploaded 25 videos by lunchtime.  YouTube has a way to go in perfecting its channel tools but visitors can search by clinical area, date added, most viewed, and top rated.

Healthcare provider companies are not known for their marketing expertise — they are too busy saving lives — but the move into YouTube is a smart one.  Do you know anyone who doesn’t have a family member with a health problem? The quality of these videos is quite good, albeit a bit over-polished.  If you remove the occasional singing video encouraging employees to wash their hands, you’re left with a body of work where humans talk to humans in understandable English, removing the magic.

Personally, I find the videos that don’t feel too scripted the best. Two docs at Memorial Sloan Kettering were talking on camera, sans make-up, and it felt very different from the norm, very real. The hospital has a reputation for clinical coolness and this video worked to change my attitude.

The ROI problems is this — these videos cost a good deal of money to produce and some get 28 views while others get 28,000 views.  As these channels grow in search sophistication and the video producers evolve, we are going to see some serious, serious advances traffic. This is big, important business. Peace! 

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scaleROS stands for Return on Strategy. It’s a chop block on the pop marketing term ROI which stands for Return On Investment (for members of the clan of the cave bear).  ROI is an important marketing measure but way more tactical and transitory than ROS. ROI without a strong understanding of Return On Strategy can do more harm than good – prolonging a misguided marketing plan. (“Weeee, our cost per customer is down!”)

In order to measure marketing strategy one must first have a strategy. Make more money is not a marketing strategy, nor is sell more products. For a hospital system, I once arrayed a number of measures that would positively impact the bottom line: patients per year, percentage of beds occupied, recruitment of excellent physicians, reduction in number of in-hospital infections, out-migration to the city, consumer perception of clinical excellence. The marketing director and even the ad agency principals pushed back “Advertising can’t do all these things.”

My response? “Sure it can — if we articulate the right strategy.” One needs to know all the important measures of success before developing a brand or marketing strategy. The next step is to prioritize those measures. Some will be at odds with others and decisions must be made. Others will be tougher to move based on competitor entrenchment. However, once all of the key performance indicators (KPI) or measures are known and prioritized based on product and marketing realities and brand vision, the strategy can be determined. And over time — measured. That’s the real weeee. Peace!

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