Thursday, June 27, 2013

3 Simple Steps to Generate Higher Revenues and Reduce Customer Churn in Healthcare Industry

The healthcare sector is one of the largest in the world. Starting with primary healthcare dispensing centers, this sector has evolved to become a hugely profitable investment. With nearly every other business realizing the profit potential in healthcare, luxurious hospitals have mushroomed in almost every corner, leaving patients with umpteen choices. The competition is fierce and hospitals are investing more now than ever to ensure that patients are drawn to them rather than their competitors. However, top rated hospitals have more problems today than before due to factors such as fewer medical representatives, ever constrained budgets, competition from lower priced generic drugs, etc. Not to mention external factors such as recession that has had a negative impact on most sectors. Yet, optimists see such hurdles as opportunities rather than roadblocks! This is the right time for innovation - in the midst of monetary constraints, one can turn to more old school ideas. Using a cost-effective CRM software to connect with clients and patients in an attempt to find out and focus on what they want. Given below are three simple steps that marketing experts at healthcare institutes are turning to in these tough times to help ensure profitability and lower churn:

While people think of brands, focus on channels
When it comes to marketing, having your fingers in too many pies is actually a good thing! Most marketers nowadays harp on how one needs to focus on social media and the fact that merely flashy advertising doesn’t get the job done anymore. But, this is old news..The fact of the matter is that multi-channel marketing is the key to succeed in today’s world. Only a multi pronged attack through all the avenues available will do the job. Relying on word of mouth publicity is not enough and at the same time, simply waiting for social media followers with their 'likes' to increase is not enough either. What is really needed here is a holistic approach towards marketing:
  • Brand recognition: Whether it’s online, through social media, an informative website, or through simple medical education programs - ensure that your brand is making it’s presence felt at the right time. Also, ensure that the program is in sync with the target audience; there is no point in taking a free seminar on geriatric care when a crowd of young adults is expected to attend the event. In such cases, talking and educating attendees on topics such as sexual health and lifestyle diseases will prove to be a bigger crowd puller.
  • Consistency: Another point that needs to be kept in mind when going all out is consistency, but in moderation - one does not need to hog every source of media simultaneously. One needs to plan each event and make them complementary, like holding online lectures just before a free check up camp ensures success of the camp.
  • Timeliness: Be strategically smart by striking the right balance between investment and returns. Hold camps/lectures/social media campaigns at the right time. For example, holding an AIDS awareness campaign on World AIDS Day will be more effective than holding such a campaign on any other day.
Share the right message, at the right time
It is common knowledge that often marketers rope in film stars to promote their healthcare product in a bid to increase sales. However, a personal recommendation from an actual user always works best to convince a first timer to try out something new. The same message has a different level of impact depending on who is delivering it. Even the medium and manner in which it is delivered tends to make a difference. Thus, publishing the right kind of message through the right medium is as important as the content in the message. One-to-one information from a respected source when it comes to dispensing healthcare related information goes a long way - physicians, pharmacists and hospital staff dispensing positive healthcare information in the form of one-to-one programs or in groups works very well. These measures work far better than any online healthcare lectures, as it makes the entire experience more relatable and provides patients and their relatives a chance to question physicians and clear their doubts. Similarly, providing information in a positive way works much better; email campaigns detailing ways to live healthy and prevent lifestyle symptoms will have higher responses as against email campaigns that highlight symptoms or complications of a disease. Lastly, people tend to connect more with those that have been through a similar experience. Dispensing information through communities, like cancer support groups and group therapy sessions meets always strikes a chord. Fostering such relations in groups and communities helps to have a deeper impact as it makes the message more relatable.

Not providing half baked education
The patient of the 21st century is well informed - nowadays most have access to all kinds of information and so, when they discuss a disease, a doctor shouldn’t be startled, if they pose detailed questions regarding the symptoms and treatment plan. However, while there is a bright side to patients doing their homework (well informed patients are often more cooperative and accepting of the risks involved), there is also a huge downside. Many sources of medical information online are misleading, which has given rise to more myths than facts. A simple example would be that many patients feel cleaning their teeth renders them loose, or that a wisdom tooth extraction affects the eyesight. This is the reason why despite many sources of information being available, patient education is more important today than ever. Thus, educating patients with special emphasis on timely treatment and prevention measures tends to get rid of many misconceptions they may be harbouring. An easy way to reach patients is through the most common yet often forgotten middle man – pharmacists. Healthcare marketers tend to forget that pharmacists have an extremely wide reach and a quick good word put in by a pharmacist about a hospital will work wonders to convince a prospective patient. Similarly, convincing sales reps to not parrot out information, but instead, dispense it in an understandable way, that makes an impression is important too. Furthermore, one needs to understand the consumer and his preferred mode of communication. A tech savvy consumer can be targeted through emails and interactive videos, while others can be educated through lectures, camps and street plays.

Conclusively, it can be said that dispensing the right kind of information at the right time and through the right medium would really mean hitting the nail on the head. With the kind of competition brewing in the healthcare sector, marketers need to focus on targeting the right kind of audience with the right kind of information. Always remember that every person in the crowd is a potential healthcare stakeholder. Everyone needs to visit a hospital at least once and it’s up to healthcare marketers to ensure that the hospital in question is theirs - well equipped with a CRM software to keep the patient list growing and parallely identifying means to optimize their experience for better retention.


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