In the world of healthcare marketing, COVID-19 changed the world for everyone. Almost two years into the pandemic, we are all hopeful that the world will be back to “normal” soon, but what does normal look like? And especially for those in the healthcare industry, what will the new normal look like?
COVID Effects on Healthcare Marketing
COVID-19 caused many healthcare facilities to completely turn off their advertising. With the restrictions, full ERs and strict regulations on elective surgeries, it made sense to press pause. As the restrictions have loosened, slowly the marketing spigot has been turned back on, even if it hasn’t looked exactly like it did before. Messaging on the website, social media and advertising has all reminded patients that they are safe to come to their doctor’s visit.
Another challenge during COVID was the backlog of patients that many practices and hospitals had during times of shutdown. Cancellations and missed appointments also became a factor for people who might have been sick or exposed right before their patient visit. While some areas are feeling the pressure of full hospital beds and overflowing ERs, some healthcare practices are seeing empty waiting rooms and open slots for appointments that are hard to fill.
As we all are now hopeful of being on the other side of COVID, what do marketing strategies look like now? What do healthcare marketers need to know? Here are things to keep in mind as we strategize for post-COVID marketing:
1. Current Patient Marketing
With the pandemic, many people put their healthcare on hold for routine and well checkups. It’s time now to reach out to those patients to get them back to the doctor. Campaigns using custom audience lists of current patients are very effective in reaching them. Also, think about how to use your own patient communication channels that allow for a direct message to those patients. Use your data to make it more personalized for them. It’s a great time for them to stop putting off coming to the clinic.
We have all learned how to use telehealth more effectively since COVID-19. While this is not ideal for some conditions, the use of telehealth and that technology will only continue to grow. And now local practices are competing with national organizations offering this service. It’s something that will continue to be a focus in messaging and how it’s offered to patients.
As healthcare marketers, we continue to see a shift from just marketing to patients to marketing to consumers. This trend continues as we need to think about the patient experience as a whole. How easy is it for them to book an appointment? Are we able to engage them online pre and post-appointment? We need to think about ways to engage them and have a seamless process from beginning to end.
4. Primary and Preventive Care
The pandemic reminded us all of the fragility of life. It’s an opportunity to remind your audience of why they need to see a doctor regularly and when it’s time for preventive health screenings. Remind women that at age 40 they need a mammogram and, at age 50, everyone should start having a colonoscopy. While marketing routine care to current patients is a focus, so is marketing primary care to new patients. Focus on the relationship you can build with a primary care provider who knows your medical history and can be with you at each phase of life to guide you through the right care. In a time when “self-care” is trendy, having a primary care provider you see regularly is the ultimate way to care for yourself.
5. Safe Messaging
Remember that while some of your patient base has been “back to normal” for a while, others have not. Continue to remind your audience that they are safe when coming to your hospital or practice. Be sure to have current COVID-19 guidelines posted clearly both online and in-clinic. Make sure patients are aware of these guidelines before they get to your front door.
As we hopefully move into a post-COVID world, keep these priorities in mind when planning marketing for 2022. If you need help navigating the next steps and how to get patients back in your practice or hospital, we would love to help you create the right solution and messaging mix.