// By Kyra Hagan //
One of the most significant transformations in healthcare today revolves around consumers’ growing interest and involvement in their health. The consumerism of healthcare has profound implications for marketers, care delivery teams, and IT professionals. New challenges as well as opportunities are emerging, and deciding when and how to leverage technology to engage consumers outside the four walls of an organization is a priority for all involved. But it is often approached in silos. Establishing a shared vision for consumer engagement and a roadmap across teams will enable organizations to be more efficient with their budget, cohesive in their approach, and will result in a superior customer experience.
Consumers Are Customers
The use of the word “customer” may be disconcerting to some healthcare professionals. But it represents the mental shift we must make if we are to succeed in the era of the empowered consumer. The terms “consumer” and “customer” are interchangeable. As consumers, we think of ourselves as customers, willing and able to exchange dollars for a product or service that meets or exceeds our expectations. Typically, our expectations revolve around convenience, quality, and cost, which, when combined, create value. Competing in the new digital healthcare landscape means creating value.
Marketers Lead the Transition
Transitioning healthcare from a provider-centric model to one focused on creating consumer value requires a different approach. Today, digital marketing teams at healthcare organizations lead this transition. Marketers are constantly adapting to shifts in the way consumers engage digitally. To reach consumers in 2016, we have to be active on social networks and think mobile first. We need a presence on Google but also in local directories and location-based sites like Foursquare, as well as a strategy to build a following there. We understand that it’s critical to keep up-to-date, accurate information in our provider directory, on our website, and in local listings to rank in search results. In addition, continually evolving Google algorithms require that we embrace the power of earned media, and incorporate transparency tools regarding patient experience and provider quality into our strategy. This is where the marketing and clinical teams should begin to intersect.
Organizations that are slow to evolve may have a hard time catching up in an environment driven by consumer demand for convenience and transparency. Successful organizations will seek to build these attributes into every consumer experience, from paid search to the patient portal. Marketers have their work cut out for them, knowing what’s needed, and at times being stymied by slow-moving organizations or siloed technology solutions.
In the article that follows, Kyra Hagan of Influence Health discusses how organizational priorities may need to evolve to meet consumer expectations, and walks us through a fully integrated roadmap that addresses the end-to-end consumer engagement cycle, from marketing to condition management.
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