By Rachel Moore

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To practitioners and patients, the term "healthcare marketing” can sometimes sound like an oxymoron. From the patient’s perspective, everyone needs healthcare, so why does it need to be marketed? From the practitioner’s perspective, things get a little tricker. Healthcare practitioners subscribe to the credo of “do no harm-" and marketing, which is sometimes misperceived as coercing someone into doing something they wouldn’t otherwise, could be perceived as “harmful.”

On the larger point of whether or not healthcare organizations need marketing in the first place, patients and practitioners are wrong: organizations of all flavors, shapes and sizes absolutely must utilize marketing to grow their businesses or practices. When it comes to the details of what that marketing looks like, though, the patients and practitioners have it right: everyone needs healthcare and they shouldn’t be coerced into getting prodeduces, buying products, or subscribing to services they don’t need. But it is the marketer’s role to utilize tactics that educate, promote well-being, and answer the questions that patients and practicioners alike are searching for answers to. So how do marketers effectively promote healthcare organizations? By using data.

In an industry populated by practitioners who live and breathe for data, there's no better tool for marketing healthcare organizations. Patients, too, are looking for data - specifically, the information that can help them live happier, healthier lives. Regardless of the type of healthcare organization: be it health IT, patient care, wellness counseling, medical devices, or otherwise, data should be the fuel that powers the overarching marketing strategy.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that data-driven analysis of how traffic, leads, and customers are being generated on a healthcare organization's website is important to long-term success. However, data can be useful to healthcare organization marketers for more than just retrospectives on what's working and what's not.

Here are 5 ways marketers in healthcare organizations can use data to get the attention of practictioners and patients alike:

  1. Use publicly available data from the United States Preventative Studies Task Force to educate patients and practictioners alike about disease risk factors, and encourage screenings they might not otherwise know about or that they need. This not only provides helpful educational content to your audiece, it can also increase patient preventative care visits and overall disease awareness. 
  2. Mine your own epidemiological data. Has there been an increase in clinic visits for a specific ailment (like allergies, strep, or influenza) in a particular geographic area? What about an increase in a particular prescrpition medication's usage, or over-the-counter remedy being purchased? What epidemiological conclusions can be drawn from this? While we're not suggesting that you write a full blown scuentific report or that you make medical recommendations, noticing trends in the data can point to an opportunity to create thought leadership content related to these trends.
  3. Monitor social media. See a lot of social media messages about a particular topic (like ICD10) coming in? It means people are interested in it and it’s timely. Just like monitoring epidemiological trends in your area, this is an indicator that it's a great time to create content about this particular topic.
  4. Correlation doesn’t imply causation... but it does raise questions. Notice trends in patient or user data? While offering medical advice based upon it isn’t usually a good idea unless you can find peer-reviewed journals that support it, it does mean that other people probably have the same questions. Use this as a jumping-off point for your content.
  5. Has it been some time since you’ve seen a particular patient, or a user has reported in data? Use marketing automation to reach out to these folks with a visit reminder or info logging opportunity.

When it comes to healthcare marketing, it pays to be observant and a good listener. Keep an eye on any demographic or epidemiologic trends in your area, and look for opportunities to translate these trends into the answers practitioners and patients are asking. Listen to social media for increased chatter around a particular topic, and keep an ear to the ground for any regulatory news or updates that may have an impact on your industry. Use data available all around you drive your strategy.

What are some other ways you've used data to fuel your healthcare marketing strategy?

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Rachel Moore

About the author

Rachel Moore is a Senior Consultant and Team Leader at SmartBug Media. A HubSpot alumna, Rachel uses her 7+ years of experience as a marketer and neuroscientist to help clients develop innovative strategies to achieve and exceed their business goals. Read more articles by Rachel Moore.

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