Most savvy hospital marketing executives understand the following:
- Their hospital needs a website that provides valuable and engaging content.
- Their hospital needs to be found by current and prospective patients alike.
- Their hospital needs to have insight into how their website is affecting patient experience and traffic.
But what they typically don’t know is how to combine these disparate marketing efforts into a cohesive digital presence that actually increases patient volume and maximizes profitability for their organization.
They end up investing in solutions that cost them more time, more money, and more personnel resources than they’re getting back in marketing returns on investment.
And even worse—they end up delivering a disjointed and dissatisfying digital experience for patients.
So what can hospitals do to execute a digital strategy that actually works for both their patients and their organizations?
It’s a matter of having smarter technology.
Technology that delivers greater integration, transparency, and efficiency.
But before we dive into the specific types of technology that help hospitals improve their online presence and marketing outcomes, let’s first explore how technology fits into the hospital’s overall digital presence framework.
What’s Hospital Digital Presence and why does it matter?
With thousands of digital marketing channels, platforms, and tools to choose from (and the options growing year by year), the responsibility of choosing the right solutions for a hospital can be daunting.
How do hospital marketers and executives know they’re making the right investments and building the most effective framework for their hospital’s digital presence?
This is where Hospital Digital Presence comes into play.
Hospital Digital Presence is a framework and business concept built on a set of best-in-class digital marketing principles for the healthcare industry.
Its scope incorporates the most effective ways a hospital or healthcare organization should be represented on the Internet (e.g. the hospital’s website, digital ads, videos, social media profiles, online reviews, etc.), as well as a technological strategy that weaves all those moving pieces together.
So why is Hospital Digital Presence important?
Because the Internet is the predominant way patients find and engage with healthcare providers.
With the unlimited amount of information available on the Internet and the rising popularity of mobile technology, healthcare consumers now turn to the Internet first for any and every uncertainty related to their health, from researching symptoms and conditions to looking up the “best” doctors and healthcare facilities in their communities.
And patients have become so accustomed to accessing the information they want right when they need it that they now hold healthcare providers to a higher standard in terms of their digital presence.
More healthcare consumers today want their healthcare providers to offer the same seamless digital experience they get from retailers:
- 78% say the healthcare digital patient experience needs improvement.
- 50% say they would leave their current healthcare provider for another one that offers a better digital experience.
As a result, healthcare providers that meet prospective patients right in their moment of need online (whether that’s through a Google search or helpful content posted on social media)—and maintain a great experience during the patient’s entire digital journey—will be the ones to drive more patient traffic to their facilities.
Technology and the 3 pillars of Hospital Digital Presence
However, digital presence doesn’t merely equate to building a website and producing digital content all over the Internet. Hospitals that actually want to use their digital presence to build long-lasting relationships with patients in their communities and bolster their revenue streams need to be strategic in their execution.
An effective Hospital Digital Presence must be supported by the right technology, which is made up of these three pillars:
- Content Management
- Digital Marketing
First, a hospital or healthcare organization needs a state-of-the-art content management system (CMS) that is designed for the complexity of the healthcare industry...specifically a system that:
- Makes it easy for healthcare marketers to post and update their website content.
- Integrates with important healthcare-related digital systems (e.g. online scheduling, electronic health record, online bill pay, etc.).
- Offers the security protections needed to comply with HIPAA.
- And more...
Second, they need a digital marketing platform that allows the hospital or health system to manage their online marketing campaigns (both paid and unpaid) all in one place. This gives the provider the ability to streamline their marketing efforts, ensuring they are working in coordination with each other and remaining in alignment with the organization's overarching goals.
The third pillar is analytics. A hospital must have not only full transparency into their marketing data, but reporting that helps decision makers within the organization glean actionable insights from that data—which, in turn, helps them optimize campaign performance (and ROI) over time.
All three pillars MUST be present and in sync in order for a healthcare digital marketing plan to work in the long term.
Only then will a healthcare provider be able to maintain the synergy of an appealing website, maximum online visibility across various digital platforms (search engines, social media sites, etc.), and clarity into how prospective patients are engaging with their healthcare brand.