Washington Post

Hospital Marketing: Consumers’ Source for News Rapidly Changing

The internet is now used more than newspapers and radio as the source of news for Americans.  And how they receive the news is now more from mobile phones and social media.    

According to a study by the Pew Internet and Life Project, Americans have significantly altered the way they get news.  The most popular news sources are still national and local television.  But the internet has now surpassed newspapers and radio as a source for news.  Sixty percent of the respondents indicate they get news through the web.

The study found that sixty percent of Americans don’t have a single source for news. About half of the respondents access news from four to six sources in a single day. “They seem to access news when the spirit moves them or they have a chance to check up on the headlines”, stated the report.

Cecilla Kang, in an article in the Washington Post , cited from the report that described news consumption as “portable, personalized and participatory”.

  • 33 percent get news from mobile phones

  • 28 percent have a customized home page with news feeds

  • 37 percent have posted, linked, shared or commented on news stories on Facebook and other social networking sites.

The report also states the landscape continues to change with the internet and social networking increasingly becoming the preferred choice for getting news.

As hospital marketers seek to effectively communicate our messages to the media and the public, it’s clear that old strategies will not suffice. We must update our methods and develop new strategies that encompass the habits and behaviors of consumers.


Marketing Your Hospital: How to Engage Consumers

Social media  is about “engaging” and “interacting” with your market.  It’s not like days gone by where a brand image was crafted and dictated to the consumer, but rather a relationship is built. A two way conversation of sorts that is built with engaging information.  And a great way to engage them is with useful info.

The BBC recently reported on a study in the UK linking depression to a diet high in processed foods.  They split participants into two groups – those who ate a diet largely based on whole foods, which included lots of fruits, vegetables and fish, and those who ate a mainly processed food diet, such as sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains and high fat dairy products.  No one would be surprised that the latter diet led to obesity, diabetes and risks of heart disease but I doubt most people would connect it to depression.  

Another example came in an article from the Washington Post.  They reported on a study that concluded chewing gum may help reduce cravings, particularly for sweet snacks and spur people to cut their daily intake by about 50 calories. 

This simple, but interesting info would make great choices for “useful info” that most consumers would find beneficial.  Using recent study results is a way to give your market something worth “engaging” with your hospital, creating a relationship and keeping them coming back to your site.

Hospital Marketing: Patients Learn from Patients and Marketers Can Too!

baby girl working on laptop

Online medical websites are now more advanced, allowing patients to interact with one another, share experiences and hopefully make better decisions about health issues. Hospitals marketers should follow these. The benefits are that we learn what issues are important to the patient, how to speak their language, and how to better communicate our brand to them.

In a recent issue of the Washington Post, was an article about the many online health sites that have a presence in the Washington, DC area.  A new one, WiserTogether, began when  a couple got some troublesome news in the 12th week of her pregnancy-that there was a strong possibility she would deliver a baby with Down’s Syndrome.  The husband, Shub Debgupta, started WiserTogether after they faced the decision of undergoing an invasive but highly accurate procedure that could spur a miscarriage or wait for an ultrasound that would not be risky but much less conclusive.  WiserTogether addresses expectant parents’ issues that are pregnancy related.

Earlier sites, like WebMD, are more encyclopedic but newer ones like Inspire, PatientsLikeMe and CureTogether are more interactive and case-study oriented.  Some, like Inspire, partner with associations that advocate for patients with various diseases. Sites generate revenue by selling research (without the personal information) to healthcare companies, by recruiting members for clinical trials conducted by pharmaceutical companies, custom searches and subscriptions with premium features.

In the end, the patient is involved in a dialogue….not with the physician…but with other patients facing a similar diagnosis. Hospital marketers should consider following the dialogue on these sites in order to better communicate with potential patients or better yet consider hosting a similar service in their market.