Enhancing Patient Experience with Cross-Channel Strategy

It’s a tough time to be a healthcare marketer. Patients are more demanding than ever. New technologies have outpaced regulators’ ability to understand them. And to complicate matters further, new mediums are introduced constantly.

Marketers are tasked with delivering engaging patient experiences across a variety of complex channels. It’s a challenge to figure out where to engage and what to create in order to do so effectively.

Here are a few tips for building a cross-channel marketing strategy that will help you effectively engage with patient audiences, regardless of how the digital landscape shifts.

1. Understand online behaviors.

Before building channel-specific tactics, it’s important to understand which channels and mediums present the greatest opportunity for engaging with target populations.  

On the whole, patients have become more active participants in making care decisions, but there are still nuances across factors like demographics, therapeutic area and location. One patient population may be hyper-active, staying up to date on new treatments and actively applying to clinical trials. Other populations may simply be trying to make the best of what’s available given a lack of new therapies within a condition. Gaining an understanding of patients’ online behaviors can help you effectively engage audiences at both ends of the spectrum.

Start the research process by examining qualitative data – search behaviors and qualitative data – online conversations.

Google offers two free tools to assist with this. The AdWords Keyword Planner provides keyword suggestions, search volume estimates and pricing. Google Trends provides relative popularity over time and allows users to visualize correlation in search volume between two or more keywords.

Media analysis tools like Sysomos MAP and Radian6 show where the most influential conversations are taking place around a topic. Additionally, they allow marketers to deeply analyze individual contributors, websites or conversations.

2. Deliver value beyond the pill.

Despite the changing healthcare landscape, the popular approach in healthcare is to bludgeon patients with self-serving product or brand messaging.  

Healthcare ignores the fact that patients are consumers too. This means they’ve come to expect that the brands they interact with provide value around the topics that matter to them. In healthcare, this translates to creating content that helps people more effectively manage their conditions. The standalone product push isn’t sufficient any longer.

The insights derived in the first phase should inform the content strategy of the second phase.

3. Build for the right channels.

Building a cross-channel strategy doesn’t require delivering a presence on every channel. Quality matters more than quantity.

Brands often drop the ball by selecting channels before strategy. Channel selection should be viewed through the lens of creating the shortest path to delivering value to the audience and driving success metrics.  

Consider the actions you want your audience to take, and select the channels that are capable of delivering the best experiences around those actions. There are distinct advantages and drawbacks for every channel. Mobile apps, for example, are great for driving deep engagement around actions a patient has to repeat frequently, like logging symptoms and adherence. But, the channel isn’t an appropriate fit for one-off activities like viewing product information or opting in to email. Of course, the medium is capable of handling these routine tasks, but given the short nature of the engagement and steps required to gain access, they’re better suited for the website.

Finding success in the digital realm requires chasing a moving target, but following the steps outlined above will help set your campaign up for success.