“Historically, we thought about [these new technologies] as a way to get support, but they’re not just support, they’re marketing. They’re tools to get new patients on board… So, getting your marketing team working with your operations team, working with your technology team. To ensure that questions are being answered and that you’re reaching the right people, is just going to bring business to you as well as support your existing business. Make everybody happier.” – Miriam Liszewski, Partnerships Manager, Google’s Business Communications, Google
Since the COVID-19 lockdowns began in March 2020, healthcare systems, like many industries, have pivoted to provide a large amount of their services online. The increased use of telehealth is a clear win for efficiency, but many healthcare marketing leaders are interested in exploring the long-term impact of these technological changes and how new data is driving marketing teams to help their institutions better understand the mindset of patients and inform how services are delivered.
These topics were explored in the recent webinar, “The New Wave of Health Care Technology & What It Means For Your Brand,” organized by Society for Health Care Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) and sponsored by BrandActive. The webinar covered “what new technologies are affecting marketing and the patient experience the most, how new technology partnerships are effectively advancing the patient experience, communicating these changes in ways to support a better experience for all stakeholders, and… how health systems are capitalizing on the opportunity to increase marketing operational effectiveness and efficiency.”
The expert panel consisted of Bryan Oram, Assistant Vice President of Strategic Healthcare, Podium; Carrie Liken, Head of Industry of Healthcare, Yext; Miriam Liszewski, Partnerships Manager, Google’s Business Communications, Google; and Chris Pace, Chief Digital Marketing Office, Banner Health. Andy Pollock, Senior Vice President of Client Services at BrandActive, was the moderator.
The overarching theme of the webinar was that data should dictate strategy, and that strategy should dictate the technology solution you choose. And while the data will reveal many pain points, as Chris Pace aptly said, “the thing that matters most is patient experience.”
“We’ve all heard the phrase, location, location, location. I feel like the new catchphrase is data, data, data.” – Andy Pollock
There’s more to data than the simple act of collecting it; healthcare marketers need to actively monitor the data coming in, analyze it, and use it to inform what to do next. People know in theory about the great, almost instantaneous insights you can gain from technology, but a lot of organizations have admitted to not always evaluating the data they are constantly collecting. To counteract this, Carrie Liken from Yext emphasized the importance of hiring data analysts who can actually “dig into the data” and share what they learn with their teammates to inform the overarching strategy. For instance, Miriam Liszewski from Google noted that we can “analyze what people are asking…which questions are coming up most often, so that you can efficiently and quickly use some tools to answer those questions.”
On a similar topic, the panelists agreed on the vitality of sharing those data insights with the rest of the team. Bryan Oram from Podium discussed the recent instances he’s seen of “patient experience, digital [marketing] and IT converging…to analyze the data that they’re receiving from their EMR [(Electronic Medical Record)], from the experience throughout the journey that patients are going through.” Carrie emphasized that “we cannot let walled gardens of data exist anymore within organizations.”
With access to all this data and the subsequent ability for everyone on the team to get a feel for the patient experience, there’s no excuse to continue business as usual.
What the data says: Meet patients where they are
The panelists all agreed that more and more, data illustrates that patients want to get information online. Carrie shared that when Yext analyzed all the data they collected from their customers, they learned that “there was an 100% year-over-year increase in visits to healthcare websites during the pandemic,” and a “60% increase in digital expectations since pre-pandemic.”
The overwhelming consensus was that asynchronous communication on the patient’s preferred communication platform will be essential moving forward. Bryan from Podium summarized, “people want to message in, ask questions, and get answers throughout the day, using their preferred method of communications, which is typically mobile messaging or text messaging.” Miriam from Google added that “meeting people where they are, on the device they’re on, and when they’re there is really, really important.”
One of the keys to successful asynchronous messaging is automation. After collecting patient data and learning the most frequently asked questions, you can use automated systems to provide answers to those questions as soon as they’re asked. Not only does this relieve a lot of stress for the patients, who won’t have to be put on hold for ages before getting an answer to a simple question, it also helps “direct consumers into the proper channel of care, de-escalate [unnecessary] ER visits, and potentially escalate…individuals that really need to come to the ER and get their needs addressed,” Chris said. This ultimately creates a more “frictionless” experience for patients and healthcare providers.
To learn more about the panelists’ views on The New Wave of Health Care Technology & What It Means For Your Brand, go to the SHSMD’s website: https://www.shsmd.org/