In a recent discussion on the SHSMD LinkedIn group, Nucleus Medical Media asked healthcare leaders: “Do you think patient education materials are effective marketing tools? Why or why not?”
Respondents provided insightful feedback as to how hospitals use patient education materials and what strategies are working for them. Many responses indicated that hospitals and health systems underused or misused patient education materials for marketing because they didn’t have the technology and resources to devote to the endeavor.
Patient Education As Marketing Exists Already
Discussion participant D.A. pointed out that pharmaceutical and consumer companies have been using patient education for marketing materials for years. Dr. C.T. reined in the idea, noting that education is the foundation of healthcare marketing and could be better utilized by hospitals to help bring in more new patients for signature services and reduce readmissions.
Good Communication = Good Care
Commenter K.G. pointed out that good communication goes hand in hand with good medical care, and poor patient education materials can result in a greater chance of readmission along with fewer referrals.
Testimonial. Engaging. Culturally Appropriate.
Many discussion participants agreed that patient education for hospital website marketing should
- emphasize both testimonial and educational content,
- be interactive to engage the patient in his or her care,
- and provide culturally appropriate materials in the patient’s native language.
This leads to participant R.K.’s point that patient education materials should be a tool to increase health literacy, which spans all education levels, cultural differences, and actual literacy rates.
Whole Staff Collaboration
Successful patient education marketing requires each hospital employee to be “marketers” and actively collaborate with the marketing staff, says M.W, bringing them into their hospital’s brand. D.A. agreed, saying that successful patient education marketing engages physicians and harnesses their desire for quality patient education.
Part of a Successful Overall Program
Patient education should be one tool in a successful marketing toolbox, along with person-to-person interaction, print materials, digital efforts, and other marketing elements. Hospitals and physicians can use patient education and marketing in social media to engage patients and put their care into their hands.
Patient Education = Brand Delivery
One commenter added that patient education is brand delivery, while another gave anecdotal evidence of branded patient education helping a practice increase the number of patients choosing them for cataract surgery by 50%.
Tracking is Important
As with any marketing effort, tracking results with patient education materials is important. Measuring engagement is crucial, not only to improve future patient education and marketing efforts, but to ensure hospitals are meeting Meaningful Use guidelines and improve patient care.
Make sure to check out the discussion to read the full responses. We learned a lot about how hospitals are currently using patient education materials on their websites, in social media, at the point of care, in print, and at many other points in the care-taking process. Patient education is an effective marketing tool as our respondents are quick to point out, but needs to be harnessed in a way that gives patients agency in their own care as more healthcare consumers are coming to expect in the changing healthcare market.
Nucleus Medical Media is a health literacy firm that produces cinematic 3D medical animations and brilliant medical illustrations for use in social media and hospital website marketing, patient education, and more! Contact Nucleus today to learn how patient education materials can enhance your hospital’s marketing strategy.