Amidst the challenges in an industry still feeling the impact of the pandemic, complications in healthcare can seem relentless. Provider organizations are struggling with low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, dwindling staff and plummeting patient engagement. In the search for solutions, we hosted the inaugural session of our Healthcare Marketing Forum with seven regional healthcare marketing leaders to discuss their organizations’ biggest pain points candidly—and how they’re committed to addressing them.
The ailment: Employee retention is increasingly difficult.
The treatment: A strong dose of positive culture.
Increasingly, high employee burnout and turnover rates have led organizations to reimagine company culture. Loretto, a Central New York non-profit leader in comprehensive healthcare services, recently added a Chief People Officer whose purpose is creating a strong culture of belonging through new career pathways. The CPO also established an employee experience team focused on career development, leadership training and building a culture of inclusivity through its DEI focus, according to Julie Sheedy, chief marketing & engagement officer. UNC Health is equally focused on the employee experience, noted director of corporate communications Sharon Delaney McCloud, hiring a Chief Culture Officer as a critical element of their new strategic plan. Both organizations’ focus on the employee experience—from recruitment to retirement—is aimed at bolstering employee retention.
The ailment: Hospitals are often stretched to their maximum capacity.
The treatment: Reach patients in different ways, at different times.
Patients are increasingly using the emergency room as a replacement for primary care visits—often because they lack the health insurance coverage and reliable transportation required for scheduled appointments. It’s taxing on hospital systems and has only gotten worse since the first COVID-19 outbreaks, says TeleVox’s head of marketing Donald Thompson. “Hospitals are stressed to the max, and they’re having trouble staffing call centers.” Companies like TeleVox—an omnichannel digital patient engagement platform—offer innovative ways to engage patients through the kind of technology they’ve come to expect in other sectors. Others, like UNC Health’s newly created Acute Care at Home program, deliver hospital-level care in patients’ homes. By redirecting lower-risk patients to services like these, critical care beds remain available and hospital stressors are eased.
The ailment: Patients feel nearly as overwhelmed as healthcare workers.
The treatment: Seek out creative re-engagement whenever (and wherever) possible.
Re-engage your audiences—both patients and professionals—through genuine, accessible messaging. Stay top-of-mind through social media that sparks engagement, like UNC Health’s unexpected Instagram and YouTube series “Things I’d Never Do as an ED Nurse.” Consider members-only and employees-only forums for honest conversations on shared challenges and solutions—and don’t let the sales pitches through the door. Focus instead on available resources that will connect your staff and your patients in new and sustainable ways.
Tackling the healthcare industry’s complexities can seem overwhelming—but we’ve already begun to find the answers. It’s something Kathy Kirvin, vice president of marketing and communications at Iroquois Healthcare Association, knows well. “We often discuss the problems too much,” she says. “We’re living in it; we know. We need to focus more on finding the solutions.”