Driving Loyalty with Marketing Engagement Strategies

By Paula Commers

I’ve attended three healthcare conferences in the past two months. And I loved all of them.

Conferences afford wonderful opportunities to meet industry colleagues, and to immerse yourself in new technologies and applications that healthcare teams across the country have embraced to connect with consumers and patients in meaningful, measurable ways.

The new tools of the trade – digital information channels, expanding telehealth opportunities, transparent ratings, reviews and more – are critical to helping healthcare organizations become more consumer-centric. It’s energizing to see them in action.

But is that enough?

The consumerism movement has entered the healthcare arena in a big way. Driven by the fact that consumers now directly control out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles with their insurance plans, they are demanding far more from healthcare providers in return. One of the best contributions we marketers can add to the movement is to engage consumers in dialogues that transcend the one-way, transactional communications to which we are accustomed.

Are we truly listening, and responding to the voice of today’s healthcare consumer? Do our marketing initiatives consistently facilitate two-way conversation, or is the ongoing focus more on targeted messaging to achieve targeted outcomes? Can we be successful in addressing both goals simultaneously? I believe the answer to all must be, “Yes”.

At a recent conference, NRC Health presented insights from a nationwide study on how consumer perceptions drive market realities in healthcare. The purpose of their cross-country study was to determine what drives consumer behavior, specific to awareness, selection and loyalty, and how healthcare brands can better engage and influence consumers. Not too surprisingly, there was significant emphasis on the fact that while consumers are confused and worried about healthcare in general, many are committed to taking greater responsibility for their own health. Many have also embraced non-traditional healthcare as a convenient way to access services and procedures that are primarily preventative and relatively low-risk. No surprise there either. But here’s a news flash: more than half of the survey respondents agreed with this statement:

“It’s important for me to receive all my care and treatments from one overall care provider or healthcare organization instead of many different care providers or healthcare organizations.”

In a word, they are talking about loyalty. NRC endorses loyalty as a meaningful metric for tracking consumers. At Relevate Health Group, we also see loyalty as a significant strategy for healthcare marketers. Not simply because loyal consumers utilize your services (they do). And not just because they are brand evangelists who promote and refer family and friends to your hospital or health system (another important growth opportunity for your hospital). They’re also responders, involved healthcare consumers, who are willing and able to provide you with constructive feedback and input on service and operational innovations.

Where do loyalty and associated consumer and provider engagement strategies fall within your hospital or health system marketing plans? Do you have the resources or solutions on-hand to launch and sustain a comprehensive, cost-effective campaign? Building consumer and provider loyalty is one of the things we do best at Relevate. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about how we do it.

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