Healthcare’s Consumer Evolution: Marketing to Help Your Organization Thrive in a Post-Pandemic World

Healthcare’s Consumer Evolution: Marketing to Help Your Organization Thrive in a Post-Pandemic World

Major events tend to leave their mark on society. Sometimes those changes are temporary. Sometimes those changes are permanent.

In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the changes in consumer behavior observed during the pandemic mirrored shifts already taking place in the healthcare industry. Virtual care, for example, is arguably here to stay.

This has important implications for the access strategy that healthcare organizations use to connect with consumers. In part 1 of this blog series, we discussed why establishing a strong understanding of how consumer behavior is changing is the first step in designing a successful access strategy for the future. In part 2, we talked about how to apply those insights to your facilities strategy. In this blog, we’ll conclude the series by examining how to reposition your marketing strategy to help your organization thrive in the new normal.

Marketing’s Role in Access Strategy

As consumer behavior shifts, access — providing convenient care in a way that reflects how different consumers prefer to interact with their health care providers — will ultimately be the key to success for healthcare organizations. Consumers will sometimes choose to seek care in an emergency room setting, sometimes through a system or partner-owned outpatient clinic, and sometimes through virtual care. There is no one-size-fits-all combination because the answer truly depends on the unique preferences of each consumer.

Healthcare marketers have an important role to play in communicating the options consumers have at their disposal for interacting with the organization. To do this effectively, marketers need to understand the differences in the types of consumers who are more likely to use virtual visits, those who are likely to rely on urgent care or retail style clinics, those who prefer seeing physicians in a traditional setting, and those who may use multiple channels. Marketers also need to understand differences in consumers by service line to match the right messages with the right households. And finally, marketers need to understand how those consumer profiles are changing over time as some consumers begin shifting their healthcare visits to new channels.

By identifying each of these consumer types and how their behavior is evolving, healthcare marketers can make more informed decisions about who to reach out to with the right message at the right time. This supports the overall goal of providing convenient care in a way that meets individual consumer needs.

Revising Your Marketing Strategy to Reflect Changing Consumer Behavior

Once you have established a strong understanding of who your core consumers groups are by channel and by service line, you can develop smart marketing strategies to help drive volume to your organization.

Here are a few ways to put the insights into action.

Recapture Lost Revenue From Elective Procedures

Many communities restricted access to elective medical procedures during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, eliminating an important revenue stream for many healthcare organizations. As these restrictions are lifted, marketers have a crucial role to play in helping their organizations recover the lost revenue. Existing patients with previously scheduled appointments will be eager to reschedule their treatments, but this is the perfect opportunity to reach new patients. For each prioritized t service line, identify households who are similar to the types of consumers already using those services and then focus your outreach efforts to those prospects. 

Reestablish Relationships With Existing Patients

Staying at home for an extended time disrupted normal routines. Help your existing patients get back into the habit of scheduling routine preventative care. Perhaps they missed an appointment due to stay-home orders, or maybe they had already become disengaged prior to the pandemic. Identify the services and channels that are most likely to resonate with each patient to encourage them to reestablish care.

Promote Virtual Visits Strategically

Mass marketing your virtual visits capabilities is one option, but to maximize your return on investment it’s best to take a targeted approach. By studying the types of consumers who have used your virtual visits channel, you can identify other similar consumers within your current or prospective patient base. Concentrate your marketing efforts on the consumers who are most likely to try virtual visits to reduce your marketing spend and improve the ROI.

The Bottom Line

Marketers have an important role to play as healthcare organizations reposition their access strategies to reflect changing consumer behavior. By segmenting audiences and using a targeted, data-driven approach to communication, marketers can ensure that the right messages are delivered to the right consumers at the right time and position their organizations for long-term success.

Need help designing a targeted marketing strategy that reflects changing consumer behaviors? Contact Buxton today to learn how our analytics can help.