Healthcare in The Digital Age

Walk through a mall, a park, or down any street, and you will see people connected: Connected to one another through texting, connected to their music with MP3, and connected to the Internet via WiFi. In many ways technology has linked us together now more than ever before. We not only post our deepest concerns and most glowing achievements to social networking pages, but we consult the Internet when making decisions on everything from restaurants, to movie reviews, to dating. Even buying a car is preceded by opening a browser. It should come as no surprise that we also turn to the Internet for everything related to our health. From poison ivy remedies to where to turn for long term healthcare, we want ‘to hear word of mouth’. And we want to hear from as many mouths as possible. Digital media is the loudspeaker. So how can you make that work in marketing to future clients? A few Ideas:

Get Connected

In this day and age, everyone is online. No longer strictly the realm of teens sending smiley-face emoticons, the Internet and smart phones have gotten people of all ages gazing at touch-screens over their morning coffee. Grandmothers and great grandfathers use social media and the Internet to keep in contact, and keep learning. Hospitals and care facilities have long seen the need to have a website, and many now have Facebook and Twitter pages as well. If you are in healthcare marketing, you already understand that people want to know about the new techniques you offer, the new treatments you provide, and even the new lounge that you have opened in the building (with pictures!) Social Media is a great way not only to tell them about it, but to get them to talk back. So use all of the venues; Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. Let the people tell you what they like; and what they would like to see in the future. After all, its not just about connecting to others – but connecting with them.  

Stay Relevant

One of the most important things about connecting with people is keeping the conversation going. With one-on-one interaction, this requires us to talk. Using digital media is the same; we need to keep things moving. Keep it fresh. Granted, it is nearly impossible for all but the most deep-pocketed of organizations to hire someone to sit all day, every day, writing hourly Twitter tweets, or Facebook status updates. But by the same token, how many times have you logged onto a blog only to see that the last entry was made months, or even years ago? How did you feel? Connected to the blogger? Probably not. So keeping the content alive is important. Hired a new specialist? Tell the world. Won an award? Shout it from the roof tops! Recently added anchovy and lima bean pizza to the cafeteria menu? Well… you might want to keep that a little quieter. But when something new happens, reach out and tell your ‘likers’.

Picture It…

Most facilities would never put up a website without photos of the place. After all, people perceive things visually. Images form strong mental and emotional bonds, especially when they project a helping or caring feel. But today’s audiences are savvy. They know when a photo of “a hospital” is not your hospital, but merely a stock photo, purchased from a large bank of generic images. Certainly there is nothing wrong with stock images of some things, but today’s audiences also want to see photos of the actual place where they might be going for care. It makes them – us – feel like we are seeing the “genuine article,” and that the facility is real and welcoming. A picture is certainly worth far more than just “a thousand words” these days.

Another digital medium that many facilities around the country are finding even greater success with is a fully immersive, 360-degree, panoramic Virtual Tour added to their website. A Virtual Tour essentially allows someone to experience a whole room, floor to ceiling, for as long – and as frequently – as they want. It is like giving the viewer a grand tour of the place without leaving the office, or having them leave the comfort of their home. In fact, the only thing more like being there… is actually being there. And many in the healthcare industry are finding that it is the next logical step in marketing to a digitally savvy world.

No matter what direction your promotional plan calls for, we live in a time when push-marketing at the audience is being replaced by interaction with them. Not only can people tell the difference, but they are more than happy to come to a place where they feel connected to those who provide for them. Especially those who help keep them healthy! Digital media is the new tool for reaching people not just as the masses, but as the individuals that they are. Its all about people after all.