Healthcare Marketing Trend for the COVID Economy: Adjusting to new patient behaviors

Meet your new patients

Your patients are still dealing with drastic changes to their diet, exercise routine and mental health, and the prolonged trauma of missing friends and family and major life events. Welcome to 2021. Everything you knew about your patient has changed.

This year, we’ll only begin to see the long-term effects of COVID-19 and physical distancing, as patients are forced to re-enter a world they were told wasn’t safe. Everything about their mindset, behavior and what matters to them will be different. Reaching them will take an understanding of what they went through and who they are today.

Whether in full- or semi-quarantine these past months, patients have likely felt some level of loneliness from social isolation, and may have had to put off medical care. But here’s the good thing: many people will emerge as more engaged advocates for their own health, possibly even having a deeper sense of respect and trust for the healthcare system. Americans typically have a notoriously low trust for the medical profession, so it is vital not to lose that trust as life returns back to “normal.”

Here are some ideas for how to connect with your new patients and align advertising efforts:

  • Update brand service line messaging to align with today’s needs – Service lines that were deemed “unessential” at the beginning of the pandemic are still very important and marketing needs to be updated to reflect current needs and fears. Sinai Health System is currently increasing awareness of elective procedures with strong messages about proactive health and safety by communicating during telehealth appointments, using targeted mobile-messaging and utilizing social media. Ellis Medicine launched a campaign last summer called Open for Health to encourage people to continue scheduling their primary care appointments, and raise awareness for their 24-hour urgent and emergent care locations. With headlines including “Health matters most. Don’t wait.” they highlighted their in-person locations and telehealth options.
    • Bariatrics and Orthopedics – Seeking care in these areas was likely put on hold completely during the lock-down. Let prospective patients know it’s safe to pursue these surgeries and programs once again and that they should not put off making positive changes to their life and health.
    • Maternity – Though the quarantine likely will not cause a baby boom, people will still be getting pregnant and will need maternity care. It’s possible pregnant people will have even more fear and anxiety than normal for both themselves and their baby due to the higher risk of COVID. Address and ease these fears by explaining how you’ll keep them, and their baby, safe.
  • Start a Patient Advisory Committee to give patients a voice to share thoughts, ideas, and to expose brewing issues that haven’t caught your attention yet. Considering the issues of trust vs mistrust of the healthcare system, many people are passionate about wanting to make the healthcare system better, but may feel helpless to make any positive change. An advisory committee gives patients the opportunity to share their thoughts and offer constructive criticism beyond a review or survey. If their concerns are then addressed, they’ll be much more likely to feel increased brand loyalty.
  • Reassess your media buy, and add more quick-to-deploy digital efforts like social and SEM so messaging and CTAs can be updated quickly. You’ve probably adapted your media buys since March and April, pulling back on radio and out-of-home. Look at the data in your area to see how people’s habits have continued to change. Public relations, digital advertising and streaming content will all boost visibility and are more cost-effective, but don’t forget about essential employees who are still commuting to work and consuming traditional advertising.
  • Bulk up your email and blog resources. Increase patient loyalty by connecting with existing patients–even when they don’t need you. Educational email series give you a reason to keep in touch, reinforcing your expertise and your commitment to patients. One great example is UH, who created a series of webinars called UH Health Talks which can all be watched live or on-demand. They cover a variety of different topics to keep people informed on important issues such as COVID safety, back to school, and general health topics. This allows the system to continue building a personal connection and trust with their patients, even if patients aren’t visiting in-person. They still get to interact with doctors, board members, educators and other stakeholders.

Download our ebook 2021 Healthcare Marketing Trends for the COVID Economy to learn more about the top healthcare marketing strategies, tactics and innovations you’ll need to leverage to be successful in the new COVID economy.

Further Reading:
How COVID-19 is changing hospitals’ marketing strategies
Advertising and media buying strategies for hospitals and health systems during the COVID outbreak
Are consumers already living the future of health?