Monday, March 17, 2008

How hospitals can improve their marketing

There is no doubt that the healthcare industry has become more competitive and that with an over-supply of hospital beds, many hospitals are finding it difficult to run to full occupancy. In order to rectify this, they spend more on marketing , but there's a huge segment most hospitals overlook completely !

Each patient who is admitted in a hospital gets at least about 5-15 visitors daily. In once sense, this is a captive audience who is very likely to be responsive to healthcare marketing, because they have come to visit someone who is ill, and therefore have a heightened sense of their own biological frailty. Unfortunately, hospitals do very little to market to these visitors. Most of them are treated as second class citizens, whose presence is just about tolerated during "visiting hours". Why not treat them as potentially valuable future customers - which they all are. If they are treated well, they are much more likely to choose your hospital when they fall ill , rather than the one down the road ! There are many opportunities to create great word of mouth marketing for these visitors - and this can be done quite inexpensively, rather than wasting money on conventional advertising.

Simple examples include : setting up a patient education library for these visitors, so they can learn more about their own health; having lectures by doctors to teach them about their health; and to show videos and films about health and common medical problems in the visitor's waiting areas.

Just like most hotels rooms have a Gita or a Bible, each hospital room should have patient educational books ( for example the Healthwise Handbook; or How to Get the Best Medical Care , so that visitors can browse through them and use their hospital visit to improve their own health ! This is a valuable USP - why don't more hospitals do this ? Not only will this help them to improve their market share, it will also help to improve the level of health in the community !

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