Hospitals and practices may sometimes use the same marketing channels, but there are a lot of key differences in how they can and should market themselves. Jared Johnson returns to the show to share his experience with hospital marketing. In this episode, we compare marketing best practices for hospitals vs. independent practices, and what independent practices can learn from hospital marketing strategies.
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Announcer: It’s time to think differently about healthcare, but how do we keep up? The days of yesterday’s medicine are long gone and we’re left trying to figure out where to go from here. With all the talk about politics and technology, it can be easy to forget that healthcare is still all about humans and many of those humans have unbelievable stories to tell. Here, we leave the policy debates to the other guys and focus, instead, on the people and ideas that are changing the way we address our health. It’s time to navigate the new landscape of healthcare together. And here are some amazing stories along the way. Ready for a breath of fresh air? It’s time for your Paradigm Shift.
Michael: Welcome to the Paradigm Shift of Healthcare and thank you for listening. I’m Michael Roberts and we’ve got Scott Zeitzer here joining with us today, and also coming back to the show, big reunion here, Jared Johnson is on the show with us as well. So excited. Welcome, Jared. Thank you for joining us.
Jared: Thanks, Michael And Scott, before we get too far into this, I just want to make sure you’ve done your vocal warmups.
Scott: LA LA LA LA LA.
Michael: So today the reason that we’re all rejoined together, that we’re all back together here is to talk through some of the differences between practice marketing and hospital marketing. We do a ton of stuff here at P3 with working with practices of different sizes of different types. And so we really wanted to kind of lean in. I actually saw some interesting conversation on LinkedIn recently that was talking about what it’s like, especially if you have a physician that’s at both a hospital and at their own practice, I mean kind of moving between those worlds, when it talks… You think of the difference in budget, you think of the difference of competing priorities and all of those kinds of things. And we’ll get into all of that fun stuff here. But Scott, if you want to kind of kick us off with, I guess, the first element of marketing for practices and sort of how we advise, and then we’ll kind of take a look at how that compares.
Scott: Yeah, absolutely. From the surgeon site size, when I talk about a practice size, I’m thinking about anywhere between one and 10 say. This is not for a practice with the 30 or 40 people in it. We usually talk about, “Hey, you need a website to be clean and professional, needs to work on desktop and mobile. And then it needs good content where you’re talking about the doctor’s expertise and specialties.” And we’re having a lot of conversation, very, very targeted conversations about what kind of patients, pathologies and procedures they want to do. And then we really focus on stuff like details, like locations, office policies, et cetera. And it’s not as much about the branding, so to speak, which I’m sure Jared will speak to, but it’s really just more about how do we set appropriate expectations with current and potential patients. I’m sure it’s a little bit different Jared for a hospital.
Jared: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s necessarily different. I think it’s at a different scale.
Jared: And so when you start talking about adding a lot of different specialties that you’re bringing all these people to the exact same site, then you have to do a lot more organizing and thinking about taxonomy. And so scale is definitely one of the things to consider. I think another one of the big ones you just mentioned was brand. So at a hospital you’re dealing with the hospital’s brand and that’s going to be a stronger element when you’re talking about what goes on a page and how do you organize a site. So you’re going to have images and messaging… Kind of what does that mean? There are just more elements to find real estate on a page and guess what, not every doctor and every specialty likes the brand that the hospital puts out.
And so you’re just having to be a little realistic in terms of everyone wants their thing at the top and years and years ago, we don’t refer to this anymore in digital marketing really. I mean, but the concept is still there of being above the fold as you would call it. So on the first screen of stuff that you see, and now we know that we’re looking at things in so many different screen sizes and device sizes that responsive design has kind of helped us figure out a of things that way, in terms of when the screen is at a certain width, then you’re going to have these elements side by side in three columns. But then when they are on a phone, then they’re going to be one above each other. But there’s just a lot more elements to be involved there.
And so that’s just a realization. I don’t know if it changes a whole lot. And it doesn’t necessarily mean you do things differently. Kind of coming back to that thought of scale. There’s so much information to organize and structure that you can’t just kind of haphazardly, turn it over to somebody and have them make something useful out of it all. I mean, it’s turning over so much. It’s not uncommon to have 1,000, 2,000, multiple thousands of page, literally that you are organizing into some way that everyone thinks it’s supposed to work perfectly for them, perfectly personalized and that’s a tall order. So just realizing the, the scale of it, I think is a big thing.
And then the one I think that’s most similar is the type of patient experience information. So once you’ve scheduled an appointment or even the scheduling process, once you’ve become in the queue for an appointment, where are the forms, are there online versions of your intake forms that you can fill out online and submit them beforehand? Those elements are pretty similar. And again, sometimes it does make it a little easier. I think that’s one part where the scale of a hospital little site may actually be of benefit because ideally there are either some point solutions or some other ways to make the patient experience parts easier. Intake fours are a great example.
Scott: Yeah, absolutely.
Michael: One thing that you mentioned there, Jared, and it really does just the concept of 1,000, 2,000 pages, it’s funny, what are the ways that people are going to seek out information when they get there? Okay, I know that I need to go to hospital X to get service, to have something taken care of whatever. So how deep are people really going through that navigation? Are they really trying to find every single thing? With practices, especially for small practices that we’ve worked with, you really are trying to chart out that very optimal patient flow, but I can certainly attest them myself, in of one here, but jumping into just the search feature as fast as possible. Man, I don’t want to deal with trying to read through the homepage. I don’t want to try to go through the 17 layers of the navigation. Let me just find what I need as fast as possible. So I can imagine that’s a huge, huge difference there.
And when we’re looking at practice, when we’re thinking about content in particular, with practices, you really can dig into really talking about everything that you do, talking about how each surgeon brings something unique to the table, if that’s applicable, but especially if it’s the size of three or four physicians, you can really get into Dr. Smith, does this kind of procedure, and this is his approach. Whereas again, with the hospital, I’m sure you’re talking about this is sort of the hospital X way. Not necessarily talking about the brand of the physicians kind of, as we’ve already been talking about. But really that practice effort, we’re really trying to push why the physician is the main draw. This is the expertise that this physician brings. This is how we’re going to write it in a way that’s very friendly to the patient. And this is kind of the whole approach that we’re going for. And before we even jump to I guess your side of that, Jared, let’s talk very quickly… Can you give us sort of like your background and how you’ve been working with hospitals previously?
Jared: Yeah, for sure. I mean, long story short had worked for hospitals and med device companies for a number of years. Most recently it was with one of the top 10 children’s hospitals. So they had 70 plus specialties, 1,200 providers on staff. And so most recently there was their digital marketing tech and analytics team. Our team was responsible for all the digital content on every properties, email, digital, social website, et cetera. And so that was day to day in the trench is what we were doing.
Scott: Yeah. A lot more detail oriented for sure.
Michael: So comparing that content back and forth. So again, we’re very physician focused, very what it means to the patient to have this particular doctor work with you. How does that kind of relay to the hospital itself?
Jared: So I think that’s definitely an advantage for a smaller practice that if you realize how much you don’t have to sift through. You really can have the provider visually and content-wise have a greater presence on the website. Because like you said, that’s the thing you’re drawing people with. You are scheduling an appointment with our practice because you’re going to meet with doctor so and so. So here’s everything about them to make you comfortable with that and to have this be a good experience for you so you’ll tell your friends and that is something that is very hard to scale up. So you still have a finite number of places that you can feature a certain provider on a hospital site. And so it’s not uncommon for everyone to think that their new treatment, the new device they just got, the new condition that they’re starting to become a specialist in they might be the only one in the region, in the market, that’s doing a certain type of procedure so that part’s similar, but then multiply that by the number of specialties and the number of docs on staff.
So the conversation just has to really get started earlier on, I think is one of the big learnings for us, was you still ultimately want to get people to that same emotional place of feeling comfortable with the appointment they scheduled and comfortable with the provider’s medical expertise and with them as a person that’s not easy. So where do you do that? You have to make sure you have the mix of all the content you’d expect on their profiles. So patient reviews and I have a handicap of whatever in golf. That was a really bad example, because I have no idea what even is a good handicap golf. So the things that kind of humanize them as well. So you can have certain slots on the page that you rotate through and you have a schedule, you just build it in with your team of Dr. so, and so’s going to be on it for this week. And then the next week is someone else. So once you get in that rotation, it’s not that… I don’t feel like it’s that difficult.
I think really the opportunity with content for a hospital site is to make healthcare easier. So the challenge again, with going to hospital versus a small practice, is that you’re going to probably get lost on campus. There’re going to be a lot more offices and buildings and floors that you have to literally find your way to. Which building was that? Which room number is that? You’re going to see, probably more people, more staff. You’re going to check in at the front desk, you’re going to pass by a lot of people you’re going to have to walk down these hallways, take the elevator up to wherever. So they’re just more information that you’re going to need on average to have that appointment. And that’s just an important piece to factor in. And so how can you give people access behind the scenes and answer those questions for everybody at the same time? Definitely a challenge.
Scott: It’s interesting, you mentioned that because you know, with a practice site, it’s like here’s directions to the office. It’s an office. With the hospital, you’re just getting started, it’s like, okay, we’re here, but you may want to be in the blue lot, the green lot, the brown lot. And the other thing I was thinking about while you were talking about how you manage, it’s like if you got four or five people in a practice, keeping it even for all four or five is pretty simple, but I’m sure with a hospital there’s only… Sorry with a practice. I’ll say… I’ll smile when I say that… With a group as large, all the physician surgeons, et cetera you’ve got to have a very structured modality. I don’t want to use the word templated, but it’s similar, very similar to that where you’re just like, “Hey man, we’re going to put your picture up here. This is where your bio’s going to go. You got this many words you can put in. This is what we allow you to say.”
And I think you’ll spend more time, not so much on the personality of the doc. I mean, yes you’ll of course get their areas of expertise, but I don’t think you’ll be able to do as deep a dive. I think it’ll be more about a deeper dive into the hospital and where it is and where it’s located. For sure you’ll know that Dr. X is the leading provider of whatever, but I don’t think you’re going to get a long, detailed conversation about that. It’s like, yep, they do that now. How do I get there? That kind of thing.
Jared: Yeah, that’s true. And I think, yeah, so again, it’s pluses and minuses of both. I think one of the opportunities there with the hospital is you have more cool stories to pull from. Patient stories, new things that you’re treating, some research and publications that are out there from the staff. You have a lot more to pull from. And so on average, you should be able to have more content in general. If you really do want to lean into social media, we would try a lot of stuff. Back in the day we’d try Facebook live almost every week with a totally different specialty. 30 minutes, Q and A with the doc, ask them whatever you want. And…
Jared: I can’t even tell you what kind of a lift that gave the staff, not only for being featured in it, but just the thought, the brand experience that we were providing was we are open. We know healthcare feels closed and coming to the hospital, you come into this giant building, giant parking garage. The last thing you feel like is it’s open and easy, but hopefully this helped that a little bit. So there’s an opportunity there.
P3 Pro Tip
Hey, Michael, here with your P3 pro tip for the week.
The days of getting quick results from your practices content marketing are gone. Did you know that depending on the size of your market, it can take as long as a year to build up ranking for new content added to your website. While it’s important to your practices, overall marketing strategy, to have good content about your procedures and services, content alone will not get you quick results these days. For practices that want to get patients for specific procedures more quickly, we recommend promoting content in paid search or social media ad campaigns. Ads are a great way to start getting a return on your investment in content marketing, as you build up your organic ranking and search results over time and can help you get ahead of your competition more quickly.
Michael: Yeah. So if you’re just joining us, this is the Paradigm Shift of Healthcare. I’m Michael Roberts here, Scott Zeitzer, and we’re bringing back Jared Johnson for this special episode. We’re talking through practice marketing where, how this compares to hospital marketing. It’s funny, we’re talking about sort of that kind of lost in the hospital experience. I actually was just taking a family member in for just a routine thing that we do on a regular basis. And so they sent me from the second floor down to the first floor to see the person about billing. So I said, “Okay, I’ll go down to the first floor.” I had to ask six or seven different people to eventually get to where I wanted to go. And the person was like, “Yeah, I was wondering what was taking you so long.” I’m like, “Oh, thanks for the boost of confidence there.”
So there’s definitely a difference in scale here. As we talk through advertising, obviously the budgets are going to be tremendously, enormously different between the two, right? But with advertising, we just had a couple… I think it was in our last episode or somewhere along there that we were talking about Google ads, Facebook ads, sort of the strengths and weaknesses of both. But we really were, for practices talking about focusing on different procedures, pushing it to the physician, kind of as quickly as possible. This is why you would come to this practice over other practices that are competing.
Facebook was a lot of just awareness, getting people up to date on new procedures, that sort of stuff, especially if there was a new location that was opening up. A new physician coming in that offered a treatment for different specialties. And then we just kind of focused on the landing page. So as far as you think about from just advertising in general, it’s very much small business advertising. That’s kind of what we’re really trying to achieve with practices. And if you can just really kind of streamline that interaction. So let’s compare that to hospitals. How does that resonate?
Scott: Yeah. Very curious.
Jared: I definitely feel out of all these, this is probably the most similar and again, it’s mostly a question of scale in terms of, you’ve still got to have a foundation of performance marketing where you are focused on the high contribution margin procedures and types of visits that you know are going to generate revenue. That’s just got to be the strategic foundation of your advertising. I think we’re well past the days of just throw a bunch of money at Google ads and Facebook ads and I’m preaching to the choir here. I mean, you two are really advocates of being very strategic with that advertising budget and understanding the benefit of it. So on Google ads, you’re going for those who are searching for that type of condition or procedure even, and really trying to get them, like you said to a landing page really quickly.
So that part actually isn’t that different from a hospital. And yes, the budgets might make a jaw drop sometimes. But the balance of that is I’ve seen a little tweaking of that in the last couple years. And it wasn’t just COVID, it was even pre COVID as we were really being provided better analytics with what was performing better and understanding the mix of not just how much these ads were performing against ads in that same channel, but against other are channels. How are the Google ads performing compared to Facebook ads and so forth? So that part… I don’t know if that’s affected budgets across the board, I will say there’s more scrutiny of those advertising budgets, but that was the first thing… Kind of bringing this into the last 18 months. Those were the first things that got turned off at a lot of hospitals.
And I kind of understood it at first, but then there were some that took a while to turn them back on.
Jared: And it’s like, okay that’s the first thing that should have been turned back on. And it… After understanding where the dust cleared a little bit at the beginning of the pandemic, okay, well, this is what keeps the lights on for everything else. And so there are so many specialties that are not going to keep us in the black here, if you will. So I think again, question of scale, you do have a lot… I remember a lot of specialists who had created a name for themselves and were fabulous. They got great reviews, a lot of providers who, who, who did really well, they’d come and say, we’ve got budget to run some ads for us.
And we’re like, yeah, cool. And they were in dermatology. They’re just in or endocrine, there were they’re ones that just we’d have to run a lot of numbers to show them here’s why the ortho and neuro and…
Scott: And cardio.
Jared: Yeah, yeah. And oncology procedures are getting the ad dollars behind them, as opposed to this one that doesn’t take away anything from the procedure itself. But these are the strategic decisions that we have to be made. There’s just a lot of block and tackling there that just had to be considered.
Michael: So Scott, I know that you interact with practices a lot on helping guide them on the necessity of reviews of course. And we’ve talked a little bit about reviews here, just mentioning it. But in terms of how we’re advising and how we’re trying to help practices really focus on this and kind of integrate it into their workflow, what are some of the things that we’re advising on a regular basis there?
Scott: For practices, it’s interesting. There seems to be something coming out of this conversation where, because of the just scale of being in a hospital versus the practice size, it’s going to be a similar conversation occurring here. So your content won’t be as deep for each individual doctor on a website because you need to do so much more. And you’re really coming to the hospital for that big picture of like, “Man, I have everything here.” And the doctor’s part of that big machine so to speak, to take care of me. It’s similar. When you talk about reputation marketing. So for a practice, we get really… We advise that you need to dig deep here. Don’t just look for a one to four star rating, et cetera, where you’re just texting somebody for a quick answer.
We are looking for detailed survey responses so that the practice can really shine very well, learn from it could be that maybe somebody in billing is mean or it could just be like, “Wow, we need a better process for whatever.” And reputation marketing really kind of solidifies it. It’s one of those three things we talk about. It’s like, “Hey, here’s this website very similar to a hospital, right? It needs to be mobile friendly or mobile first.” I think I heard Jared mention similar conversation occurring. You’re going to get deeper content because you’ve got less work to do, I assume, in a hospital, it’s going to be a different conversation that’s occurring. And it’s probably going to be integrated, Jared, if I had to guess, with the EMR or the HER, right?
Jared: Yeah. Increasingly for sure, there are so many point solutions that are now within the EHR’s ecosystem and all the main EHR providers have their preferred ones that already integrate, or a lot of them have created their own. They have their own marketplace anyway for apps. And so they’ve created their own. So a lot more offerings there for sure that are available now, like secure texting and things like that that years ago, they were just kind of on the forefront or they just weren’t widely used. And so they were still a lot of question for them, for sure. And I think related to that is of the thought of the tech behind the reviews, what the process is. So the fact that you can walk that through any provider through the process and the benefit when you’re still going to get questions, no matter what, from somebody who doesn’t like them on their profile. They just don’t want them for whatever reason, they might be the best, they might have the reviews, they just don’t want them on there. They’re opposed to it.
And part of it’s the group that just don’t understand period, why you would do that. They’re just not used to it. Then there are ones who you can talk into it. And you’re like “Here’s what we’ve got.” I think definitely that conversation about how do you make it happen with the tech is important. And then that conversation to get the buy-in from the doctors. And so you’re right, I think with the practice it’s great. It’s definitely an essential thing, especially you’ll go to any other practice related to them in their specialty. And those practice sites are going to have online reviews. And so make sure you’ve got yours, for sure.
Michael: Yeah. So here’s an interesting, I guess kind of commentary about this as we’re talking all the way through this. Yes, scale’s different. Yes, things are different at different sizes. One of the things that we’ve found interesting, I would say for people that are in the large groups and then people that are also working in hospitals is having a presence on the hospital site, on the large practice site, having a part of that… I mean, Scott, we called it a machine there for…
Scott: Yeah, yeah. Sure.
Michael: … All the different pieces of it. Right? And that kind of comprehensive thing. But then also having a separate…
Scott: A separate site.
Michael: A separate website, entirely. A separate set of marketing efforts. I could think of a handful right off the bat of just people that have said, “Man, it’s great to be a part of this hospital. It’s doing a lot for me.” It’s…
Scott: I love it.
Michael: … All the different benefits that come with that. But I want to be known as this. And this is the thing that I would really love to get more patients for. And so they can very much focus on getting the types of procedures that matter most to them. They can kind of shape their own destiny, shape their own workflow somewhat when it comes to what they’re doing in the clinic.
Scott: Yeah. Let me jump in on that point. It’s very important. So, you know, Jared brought it up before too. It’s like, look, there are specialties that make a lot more money for a hospital than other specialties. That doesn’t mean that the pediatrician is a bad specialty. Okay? One of my very best friends is a pediatrician. And she works really, really hard and takes great care of her patients and the families and the patients, et cetera, but she knows she’s never going to get highlighted on the hospital side, it’s not a big money earner. It’s part of the necessity of having a major hospital is “Hey, these guys are going to grow up one day.” But the orthopods and the spine and neuro guys that we deal with, they do make pretty decent money for a hospital. It’s just a fact.
Scott: And I always advise orthopedic surgeons that are thinking of joining a hospital of like, “Look, your brand is very important. And whether you choose to keep your website, because they’re a current customer or not be aware of that. You may want to negotiate that conversation before you enter the hospital system.” The hospital system for a variety of reasons is only… They’ve got a lot of funding to protect their brand. And in some cases when it helps the hospital system, they’ll highlight a particular practice specialty, et cetera. We have surgeons and physicians that basically want to highlight their own stuff. And you know, Jared, I’m sure you dealt with that when you were working at a lot of the hospital systems.
Jared: Yeah. Yeah. You’re right. And I’ve even had the opportunity to work with an ortho department of a larger health system. They did have their own site. They were one of the examples, like you just said and they operated like their own practice. And I would say they, they followed that thought exactly. They wanted to do that. So they didn’t have as many hoops to jump through to highlight what their department was doing. And they did want a dedicated place for it. And there was a lot of value in that, because I felt like we got into stories with their patients way deeper than when I’d been…
Jared: … With the hospital trying to integrate so many different ones. I think the common thread, like you said, is just having a place for that. Even if they know the like, “Hey, there’s three spots on the landing page for those. And then they each go to a… You click through and there’s a, a page with the larger story for those. And we’ve got a schedule and we can fit you in this often, but let’s make sure that we rock those ones, that we really have solid content for those.” Because if they’re like a lot of other providers and administrators at a small practice, it’s actually not that much different where they think they have more of a story to tell that’s going to interest a consumer than they actually have. So you still have to go through the same process of like, “Why is anyone going to care about that story?” Or that thing, or the golf tournament that you guys just had or whatever.
Scott: I think the most successful relationships between those practices and those hospitals are one where there’s a good open conversation occurring. I really think there is a win-win here because ultimately look, the hospital wants to have more procedures done at the hospital. And if they’re helping enable that particular practice to shine, those procedures are getting done at the hospital man and the profit comes accordingly.
Michael: Absolutely. Well, Jared, thank you. Thank you for joining us, man. It was fun to kind of talk through just this exploration. This is something that we do get to kind of see both sides of this sum for where hospital systems really shine, where they can put in this kind of structure and kind of long term planning, but where sometimes that long term planning can work to their disadvantage as well and to where individuals or practices themselves have that ability to be more nimble. So there’s definitely advantages on both sides of this. I think it’s great for people to see kind of what their options are. So Jared, thank you again, man. It was a blast to have you back.
Jared: Thanks man. It’s always fun with the band back together. I don’t know if this is going to be like Guns and Roses tours….
Michael: For sure.
Jared: … Where they get… It’s like every 20 years or whatever, but it’s been a blast.
Scott: All good, everybody.
Michael: Everybody. Thank you for listening. Have a great week.
Announcer: Thanks again for tuning in to the Paradigm Shift of Healthcare. This program is brought to you by Health Connective, custom marketing solutions for med tech and pharma. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.