Put Your Best Foot Forward

It’s hard for health systems to find blue oceans. I’m referring to blue ocean business strategies – where your organization differentiates itself so well that competition is irrelevant.

Healthcare organizations tend to have strong brand recognition, but weak brand differentiation. It’s difficult for patients to recognize what makes you different from competitors, or perhaps they simply don’t care. Just as often, for a given service line, there really isn’t much that actually makes an organization truly different.

As I wrote this time last year, “Think back to the classic definition of what marketing is – the four P’s – product, price, promotion and place. Healthcare marketers are deeply involved in promotion, but how often do you get to direct where your services are delivered or set what they cost? Marketers in healthcare rarely even have the opportunity to determine what services will be delivered.”

Healthcare marketers have a particularly tough job with differentiation. Fortunately, there are areas in which you do have control:

  • Campaigns, marketing materials, employee communications
  • Events (health fairs, foundation galas)
  • Website
  • Social media and other digital outreach

There is a great untapped opportunity to differentiate organizations through the Web. Consumers’ perceptions of healthcare organizations are mostly driven by the experiences they have. Because they are unable to assess clinical competency, their experiences craft their perceptions on healthcare quality.

So when you do great things online (an area marketers do control), it has an opportunity to change the patient experience (which patients value). You can use this to differentiate your organization in the marketplace.

Hospitals are using the Web to make it easier for patients to work with them and creating personalized, tailored experiences. When you do these things, are you promoting them?

For example, are you promoting your convenient online appointments in TV ads, putting your live ER wait times on billboards and getting detailed news coverage for your patient portal? Some online capabilities are differentiators on their own, and they should be promoted to strengthen and reinforce the brand in the marketplace. Other times, they’re a newsworthy discussion item that allows you to communicate about something else you are doing at the organization.

In each case, they’re opportunities to do something different and that is often a rare commodity. Healthcare organizations that are winning this game do so by seizing these opportunities and making the most of them.

Watch our webinar Tell Your Story and Promote Your Online Initiatives to learn how your organization can more effectively promote your online investments.

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This entry was posted in eHealth, Social Media by Ben Dillon. Bookmark the permalink.
Ben Dillon

About Ben Dillon

Ben’s a big picture type of guy. He loves sharing new ideas in digital marketing, keeping a watchful eye on healthcare industry trends and seeing how it all intersects. A sought-after speaker, writer, blogger and current SHSMD board member, Ben’s an influential voice in healthcare marketing, helping organizations across the country embrace online strategies to engage health consumers. Combine his industry savvy with his background in software development and you can see why he’s also an important member of Geonetric’s software team, ensuring our content management system stays a step ahead of market needs. Ben holds a master’s degree in eBusiness and strategic management from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. When he’s not traveling and evangelizing, Ben enjoys cooking with his family and playing the Big House with the University of Michigan Alumni marching band.

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