A Simple Test: Is Your Health System’s Digital Marketing Effective? Are You Marketing Your Providers

By Keith Belton | October 25, 2018

It’s go-to-market (GTM) time for health systems in this era of increasing consumerism. All regional health care is a zero-sum game as competitors seek to maximize new patient visits, maintain patients in-network, and gain market share. Effective digital marketing to patients is now a critical success factor: nearly 85% of patients who research a health system use both online and offline resources. “Find a Doctor” has become as synonymous as Google Search.

Emulating successful consumer-driven marketeers is a good model. Amazon.com’s strategy is to reach all customers via a friendly web-based buying experience with high buying rates per visit. But unless Amazon has high-quality product information continuously maintained on its website (product names, product description, reviews, prices, availability), it’s marketing performance will be suboptimal. Customers won’t find the products they need, or worse – they order products that don’t meet their needs – price, location, or timeframe.

Let’s return to healthcare. Pop quiz: what’s your product? Answer: your providers. They are exactly what you must effectively organize and market to target customers – both patients and referring providers. Health systems must have all relevant data about your product – your providers – online, so you should keep all provider information update, accurate, and searchable by patients and referring providers alike. Without it, no network can take their product – their providers – successfully to market.

Investments in provider data that feed your digital marketing platform should be a key element of your GTM plan.

The Provider Information Test: Better Digital Marketing

As health systems digitally market the breadth and quality of care they can deliver, it’s critical that they include up-to-date provider information…on the dimensions that help patients choose and schedule a provider visit.

How do you know if you have the right information? There’s a very simple test. Ask your marketing team the following questions about your Find a Doctor website and other search portals:

  1. Do we know who our providers are?

  2. Do we know the locations where they work?

  3. What are your providers’ clinical interests?

  4. Do we know what networks they serve – which networks they are in (and out) of?

  5. Is this information readily at hand and shareable to marketing, patient access, revenue cycle, provider liaison, and other teams that require it?

  6. What providers and locations have open inventory?

Why is satisfying these questions critical? Without having provider locations (and “locations” is a key requirement – many doctors work at multiple locations), health plans they take, clinical interests, the networks they serve, and available inventory. Absent this information – or if the information is inaccurate or not current – and patients just might walk across to the clinic across the street…which participates in in a different network.

Health care systems meet patient expectations only if the provider detail is above readily searchable on your Find a Doctor website. Just like Amazon.com.

In the digital marketing age, improving key marketing indicators -- maximizing website visit-to-schedule rates, abandonment rates, new appointment growth, no show rates, and patient Net Promoter Scores…should be a continuous focus of your marketing plan and operations.

The goal is to have a real-time, always-up-to-date, 360° view of your providers to ensure search results close the loop with consumers every time…for a better patient digital experience. Most health systems have multiple gaps in provider information requirements because their provider data is not based on a rich provider data model.

We can help you ensure that you can answer this simple test.