Meeting Healthcare Audiences Where They Are

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Chris Steenstra

Chief Administrative Officer
11.16.2023

We’ve never had a time when more people don’t trust their doctors. Yet we’ve never had a time when more people are unhealthy.

In 2019, fake news was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Since then, the millions of pages of online health information have only grown—but that doesn’t mean they’re helping us. A constant stream of conflicting healthcare advice can make it difficult to know what, and who, to trust. 

At the same time, healthcare populations have grown increasingly fragmented, diverse and challenging to connect with authentically. Healthcare marketers need their brands to break through that noise – with all audiences, including underserved populations. But they don’t always know where to start. To position your organization as an effective and equitable one, you’ll need to meet increasingly diverse audiences where they are with information they can trust.

Here are three key strategies for letting your patients and prospective patients know that yours is an institution to trust.  

1. Overcome the obstacles, from language to location.

Ditch the medical jargon and tricky terminology that can cloud communication. Instead of translation, opt for transcreation—which considers the nuances of emotions and cultural and socioeconomic factors. And since patients come from vastly different backgrounds, your healthcare staff should, too. A 2022 Provo College study found that diversity improves both patient experience and staff care, with patients being more likely to trust someone who can identify and connect with them personally.

But you’ll also want to focus on how those patients can access your services: Consider offering walk-in visits or telehealth appointments to ease the challenges of transportation and childcare. Our client Syracuse Community Health sponsored Jazz in the City, a series of summer concerts in downtown Syracuse, to highlight SCH’s flexibility with patients’ unpredictable schedules and a walk-in care policy to make their services more accessible. They also used the events to offer health screenings and COVID vaccinations.

2. Listening leads to better healthcare content.

What do you think your patient audience knows about their diagnoses and treatment plans? Whatever you have in mind—it’s likely not it.

To meet your patients where they are, a simple waiting room visit is a great place to start. Talk to the patients who are waiting to speak to their providers: Why are they there? What do they understand? What are they worried about? You’ll gain first-person knowledge that will be invaluable to build patient communications and improve the patient experience. If you can’t visit in-person, search out data or social media comments that offer clues about patients are really looking for about their diagnosis or care. Take that social listening auditto your executives to improve operations with insights straight from your target audience.

When it comes to prioritizing content, start with your top strategic service lines. How well does your existing content support your patient journeys? Don’t recreate content that’s already offered by trusted platforms like national associations, but look to supplement it with articles or videos focused on your patient experience: ten things to know if their child has been diagnosed with X, what to do in a diagnostic limbo, or how to best access necessary services. You know you care, and this kind of content shows your patients that you do, too.

3. Find the underserved, and make sure you give them a voice.

Like so many other facets of society, healthcare is becoming increasingly politicized. LGBTQ+, the elderly, refugees, women, those struggling with substance use disorders, and many others are facing barriers to care. To build authentic, empathetic connections with these groups, make sure they’re represented in your brand’s imagery, language, and the tone of your copy. Creative media placements are also key: For some hard-to-reach audiences, we’ve found success with out-of-home marketing strategies like bus shelters, laundromats, and convenience store posters. We worked with client Iroquois Healthcare Association to recruit new millennial and Gen Z caregivers with TikTok-style dance videos on a range of social media platforms, in one of our most effective campaigns to date.

Health information—credible or otherwise—is everywhere. Creating truly valuable content that supports the patient experience and connects your brand with those you serve will tie you to patient populations authentically and meaningfully.

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