Patient acquisition in times of the incredible shrinking marketing budget

Tim Duer

Data, Healthcare, Covid-10

July 12, 2020

As already slim health care marketing budgets are being cut even further, it is becoming more important than ever that health system marketing teams pivot to new strategies. In response to the precipitous declines in 2nd quarter profits due to COVID-19 related restrictions, pressures are mounting to quickly recover patient volume. As cuts of 40% or more in marketing budgets are being reported, marketing teams face the unenviable task of “doing more with less”. Fortunately, new utilization of expanding data sources may allow them to do just that.

Marketing teams should seek to focus on key profitable hospital service lines and ensure that the methods and messages in place aim to maximize patient acquisition in these specific areas. If properly implemented, marketing teams can shift expenditures towards focused marketing efforts and expect a larger return on investment for these endeavors. Hospital revenue declines have been greatly impacted by the freeze of elective procedures, as these are key drivers of overall revenue; cardiology, orthopedics and neurology departments are typically some of the top hospital earners. If marketing teams can increase focus on procedures performed by these key services lines, rather than trying to spend on more traditional widespread hospital brand awareness campaigns, then the potential for revenue gains will be substantial.

What does it take to drive this desired growth?

  • Know your patients.
  • Not just past patients but understand who your potential patient is.
  • Not just the age or race of these potential patients, but knowing a detailed view of their likes, dislikes, and consumer preferences.
  • Not a broad view of which zip code or town the patients may live in but knowing exactly where they live.

If a marketing team knew exactly who potential patients were for their key service line procedures, how could messaging change? Mass media buys could be reduced, and instead replaced by personalized efforts towards a more select population. This is how the new, more efficient health marketing teams can emerge. This is how these teams will successfully deliver “more with less” for their health systems.