3 Steps to Patient Connection through Human-to-Human Marketing

3 Steps to Patient Connection through Human-to-Human Marketing

Cultivate Experiences that Inspire Loyalty and Trust

By Carly Farlow

Stratasan team members have been busy attending conferences these last few weeks. In particular, Inbound and SHSMD. A recurring theme at both conferences was an emphasis on creating memorable experiences for current and potential customers through human-to-human (H2H) marketing. Inc. describes H2H marketing in this way:

“Machine learning is giving marketers more insights into what people are doing and searching. Yet, despite the proliferation of software tools, there's a shift back to the good old days of personalization at a 1:1 level. At the end of the day, regardless of whether you're in marketing for a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) organization, it's about creating human-to-human (H2H) connections.” Sangram Vajre, Inc.

Customer success and traditional marketing are blending to create a new category of marketing—one that’s focused on the person on the receiving end of your brand experience. No amount of data, demographics, or psychographics can replace the value of tailored, personable communications.

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As experienced marketers, you’re likely familiar with the Four P’s of Marketing: Product, Place, Price, Promotion. Following this new marketing mindset, there should likely be an additional P—people. Because, “until the rise of the robot overlords, people buy from other people,” Inc. 

Our conference takeaways about H2H marketing are easily transferable to healthcare providers. In this post, we’ll discuss the following ideas:

  1. Every marketing outreach and patient interaction should be viewed through the lens of the patient—their perception of your organization is paramount. 
  2. Never forget, your patients are people, which means your outreach should be personal and include a human touch (and likely, a humorous or colloquial tone, too). 
  3. Your internal culture will trickle down to your patients. Don’t overlook the importance of cultivating a good employee experience. Their job satisfaction will be reflected in how they interact with patients.

Let’s discuss in more detail these three steps to implementing a H2H marketing experience for your patients.


1. Identify Opportunities for Improvement from a Patient Perspective

Did you ever watch the CBS show Undercover Boss? It’s a reality show where a CEO or another member of the c-suite dons a disguise and works alongside employees in the hopes of discovering what’s really going at the ground level of their organization. This show was likely a hit because it resonates with a reality that many of us can relate to: oftentimes, the CEO’s perspective of how their company is operating is disconnected from the real life experience of a patient or customer. 

The truth is, if you want to know what your patients are experiencing when they visit your hospital, then you should take a walk in their shoes and see what they encounter at each touch point. What do they experience when they walk through your doors for an appointment? When they book an appointment, what did they have to do to set it up? Were there any parts of the process confusing, or was something hard to complete? What vibe or feeling do you get when you walk into your waiting room? What feeling do you want your patients to have? By experiencing your organization as a patient would, you can identify where problems exist and more quickly create solutions.

As an example of how to put this into practice, consider this example from the credit card company Discover. After an audit of their online experience, they recognized an opportunity to improve their customer’s online interactions. They made a minor edit to their website that made the last ten transactions on a customer’s balance page visible upon logging in. Once they implemented this change, they saw an increase in their customers logging in and then quickly logging out again. This was their goal and the edit was considered a success because customers were getting exactly what they needed on that first page and didn’t need to view anything more. By experiencing their online system as a customer would—and by taking into account their needs and goals—Discover was able to identify this opportunity and improve their customer experience, something they likely would’ve missed had they not taken the initiative to gain the customer’s viewpoint.


2. Create Remarkable Experiences

The word remarkable—meaning extraordinary or worthy of notice—is a description worth striving for. When a patient encounters your hospital on any level, you surely hope they walk away feeling they just experienced something remarkable

Here specifically, we think it’s worth providing more than just an extraordinary experience for your patients. Rather, look for ways to make them smile. Identify simple changes you can make to add a smirk to their face (in a good way!) when they think of your hospital’s name. Small but intentional efforts can stay with your patients and cultivate an affinity for you brand, simply because patients walk away from the experience with a smile. 


David Feinberg, MD, former CEO of Geisinger Health and now VP of Google Health, said “Healthcare is now a retail business,” and to that end, standout B2C brands are worth imitating when it comes to remarkable, smile-worthy touch points. One that comes to mind is Pepsi’s Bubly sparkling water. They add a short message to the top of their can tabs, as seen in the image to the right.

This simple touch puts a grin on my face every time I go to take a drink of my Bubly.

Consider these suggestions:

  • Does your team reach out with a reminder email or text about an appointment? Or when it comes time to send a bill, could you add a line or two of light-hearted copy that transforms this outreach into a remarkable connection?
  • When a patient walks through your front door, do they see a hospital mission or value statement on the wall? While these are important and you don’t want to lose the meaning they convey, could a touch of humor be added in some way?
  • What about your marketing messaging—think billboards or direct mailers. Look for ways to portray competence alongside humor.

It’s true that laughter is the best medicine. As cited by the Mayo Clinic in this article, laughter can soothe tension, relieve stress, and even improve the immune system. Passing these benefits on to your patients by creating a remarkable, humorous experience is worth the extra effort that may be required.


3. Integrate Hospitality into Your Culture

Hospitality should be baked into every business, but especially a healthcare environment where you’re caring for patients and meeting physical (and often emotional) needs. What’s not often recognized is that hospitality should also be integrated into your organization’s culture. Look for ways to create an excellent employee experience—strive to be the best place to work. When you have a mentality of hospitality towards your employees, it makes them happy. They will, in turn, look for ways to serve your patients well.

This is an opportunity for the leadership team to lead by example—encourage everyone to respect each other, celebrate successes, and learn from mistakes. In doing so, you’ll create an environment where your team is happy and cared for. Respecting others and being part of a team that you can trust gives any employee the strength to go out and serve patients well and support quality-driven outcomes.


The Takeaway

Business functions are becoming less and less siloed and marketing is no exception. In blending marketing and patient experience (or customer success) thinking to form H2H marketing, you pull from the advancements in marketing technology that informs where, how, and why your patients choose your hospital over a competitor. The patient experience element reminds you that all that data is great, but it falls short without a drive to delight these patients at every turn. Combined, H2H marketing pulls from the best of both marketing and patient experience and leads to a more impactful patient experience—one that is more likely to build brand loyalty and trust.

For more information on how Stratasan’s software and services can inform your marketing and empower your growth strategy, contact us and schedule a discovery call today.

Article by Carly Farlow, Digital Marketing Manager at Stratasan

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