5 New Year's Resolutions for Hospital Marketers

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media , January 4, 2012

Listen and respond to patients
Improving the patient experience is a top priority for all hospitals, and the marketing department should get involved. It's easy for hospital staff—including marketers themselves—to think of the department solely as a vehicle to disseminate information, but marketing is also well suited to solicit patient feedback and act on the results.

Can patients submit comments though your website? Are you asking about the patient experience on comment cards and during follow-up phone calls? Are you asking patients to share their experiences with your organization on Facebook and other social media?

Once you have this feedback, you must act on it quickly. Consider forming an interdepartmental patient experience team (if you haven't already) or emailing a weekly patient experience update to department heads and other key staff. They will appreciate hearing patient feedback—both good and bad.

And don't forget to let the patients know you are listening. If a complaint is made publicly on social media, reply in kind that you are addressing the situation. Likewise, respond to emails and other comments you receive. Word will get around.

Revitalize staff
An indirect way to improve the patient experience is to boost hospital staff morale. Workers who are happy to do their job will have a trickle-down effect on patients.

The new year is an opportune time to lift staff spirits, which may be lagging after the excitement of holiday parties has ended. Consider developing a new healthy living group or activity for those who may have made a resolution to eat better and exercise more.

Many organizations have seen success with lunchtime and after-hours yoga and exercise classes for staff. You could also reach out to a local restaurants and fitness centers for healthy cooking demonstrations or coordinating an outdoor excursion.

As with patients, you can never solicit too much staff feedback. In addition to raising valid complaints, they can make suggestions that you otherwise might not consider.

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3 comments on "5 New Year's Resolutions for Hospital Marketers"

Donna Arbogast (2/10/2012 at 9:15 AM)
Great list, but as marketers, we can take a more proactive approach to assessing the patient experience. It's not enough to rely on the patient to tell us [INVALID] after the fact [INVALID] how things went. We should be walking the halls, traveling the same paths patients and families travel, listening, watching and suggesting new ways to improve experience. Brand Champion or Patient Experience teams, with marketing in a leadership role, can be very effective.

Eric Brody (1/6/2012 at 3:44 PM)
Good points, all valid. I'd volunteer a few more: 1. A Wider-Angle Lens. It's important to seek out new inspiration and insight by looking in new places and making new connections – beyond healthcare! 2. Creating A Platform For Patients. Thinking more holistically about how your brand can serve as the platform to move customers, and therefore your brand, forward. Thinking beyond transactions to creating relationships. 3. The Patient Experience. As you state, the patient experience, so important to fostering longer-term relationships and building brand value, is rarely informed and shaped by "marketing." But it should be. Experience must become a "team sport." Here's to moving the needle on hospital and healthcare marketing.

Daniel Fell (1/4/2012 at 10:46 PM)
I think ROI and marketing analytics in general will be a focus in the coming year. Healthcare marketers have never had access to so much data - much of it coming from new digital and social channels - but making sense of all this new data will be a key objective.




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