Summer has been busy for the emagine Healthcare team and it’s clear that 2016 will continue to be a busy (and very exciting) year for Hospital Marketers. Heading into the second half is a perfect time to share a few themes that transcended the 2016 DTC Perspectives Hospital Marketing National in Atlanta and San Diego. Great strides have already been made and there’s much more to look forward to for the rest of 2016 and into 2017.

Seeing everyone engaged, sharing success stories, giving recommendations on what has worked (or not) for them, and asking the right questions was so inspiring. We all have the same goal: Improving the lives and health of patients and caregivers. So, the willingness to find a solution together and give insight left me feeling optimistic for what’s ahead.

Here are some recurring themes that I noticed a major focus on throughout the talks, discussions and panels:

Patient Journey, Experience and Engagement

It will be critical for Hospitals to understand the patient journey, how it affects the patient experience and how that relationship encourages (or discourages) patient engagement.

For years, everyone has preached the importance of patient engagement. But, very few were actually doing it. True patient engagement will weigh heavily on Healthcare Marketers. Gone are the days of patients as a commodity that have to come to you. Stephen Zubrod, VP of Marketing at Methodist Health System and Eric Talbot, Founder of Epiphany Insights both urged us to shift our thinking to view patients as consumers. Patients have the option to choose, are more informed than ever and want to be an active participant in their health. Now, the differentiator will be who is delivering and executing on the patient experience as Lonnie Hirsch of Hirsch Healthcare Consulting stressed in San Diego.

What does that mean for your website & online presence?

Think of your site’s user experience as the patient experience. Site architecture, navigation and page flow should align with the patient journey. Every element of your website should address what patients need, want and expect to feel comfortable choosing your Hospital over a competitor. Expectations have shifted and continue to rise. Your website needs to rise to the challenge to truly drive patient engagement.

Powerful, Engaging Video

Everybody’s doing it. How do you rise above in an overly saturated medium? Simply having video won’t suffice. It should be high-quality and strive for a connection – all in an effort to humanize Healthcare again. Our health decisions are serious, intimate and personal and video content should reflect that. Connecting with your audience on a deeper level with an empathic tone will be the differentiator here. After all, choosing a Hospital comes with more risk than buying a new TV. Smith & Jones successfully leveraged video to connect with a community 2-hours North of New York City. There’s excellent care from Physicians who have studied at top-tier med schools right in their back yard, but there’s always the option to travel to Hospitals like New York-Presbyterian and NYU Langone Medical Center. Dave Vener, President and Marketing Director of Smith & Jones shared examples during his talk, 2016 Healthcare Marketing Trends, our first morning in Atlanta.

What does that mean for your website & online presence?

Video drives the highest engagement rates out of the many types of content we have the option of sharing with our target audience segments. An estimated 79% of internet traffic will be video content by 2018. Video on your website (and social platforms!) evokes the emotional connection and empathy patients are expecting.

Here are a few topic ideas:

  • Patient Testimonial to establish credibility and humanize Healthcare again
  • Physician Profile to share their approach and insights and to connect with prospective patients
  • Treatment/Procedure Overview to educate and ease anxiety in preparation for their visit (An emagine trusted partner, Nucleus Medical Media, creates stunning 3D, custom videos)

If you haven’t already started aligning your web experience and online presence with expectations of patients and caregivers, now is the time!