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Everyone Slows Down for a Content Car Wreck — Six Top Mistakes Made by Healthcare Marketers

Updated: Jun 20

overhead view of freeways

Everyone wants to learn about best practices, but many of them are impossible to implement for a number of reasons that include: budget, staffing, politics, or enterprise culture.

On the other hand, history tells me that we can all benefit from worst practices. I

recall many times in my career when I said “this healthcare enterprise/vendor has more money than god, but they made some very basic mistakes that even an organization with no budget can avoid”. Human nature tells us that we love to hear these mistakes for the same reason everyone slows down for a car wreck.

Here are the top five that I find healthcare marketers should always slow down to watch.

We need to develop personas with cute names but no emotion

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve built healthcare and technology personas for a living. I’ve also analyzed those created by many healthcare and technology organizations. These tend to be very entertaining (with catchy names like Pam from Pop Health) but they also tend to be very shallow. They tend to focus on who the targets interact with but miss the emotional triggers that get the persona to engage with content and eventually buy the product. Only by embedding these emotional triggers within the content targeted to each persona will the engagement result in a movement from interest to intent.

Confusing imitation with innovation

Is imitation really the ultimate form of flattery? Many of us have sat in conference rooms where the whole discussion was on copying what a successful competitor has done. Typically it’s not improving on their success but launching a “me too” version of what’s already out there. Needless to say, enterprises need to remain competitive and imitation at least keeps them in the competitive space. But don’t operate under the illusion that you’re innovating and surely not differentiating.

Scaling without outcomes/improvements is not scaling

How many times have our investors, boards, or senior management asked “can this be scaled”? Many of us have succumbed under pressure to scalability with little or no actual improvement. In certain industries, you can get away with marginal scaled improvements, but healthcare IS different. One of the most challenging aspects of healthcare management is realizing when some processes can’t be scaled because of unique factors related to the organization or the workflows.

Lack of a risk-reward structure

We’re in a rare time when job hopping is relatively easy, especially in the healthcare industry. However, research will show that many are leaving their positions because there are no incentives to be creative or to innovate. In essence, there are no risk-reward structures where employees are incentivized for taking even controlled risks. Far too many workers will tell you that “I’ll get fired if I try that !” when we should be hearing that “I’ll get fired if I DON’T try to innovate”.

Confusing patient experience with PATIENT experience (capital P)

Patient experience has become one word in much the same way artificial intelligence or population health have. As such it has completely lost meaning especially as it relates to the patient. This has resulted in PX focusing on the care provider as opposed to the care recipient. I’m not so naive to think that PX is not an enterprise culture issue, however, when you view it from the inside, the greatest challenge is involving the real live (in)patient in the process especially while they are still within the walls of the provider. Otherwise, the patient experience is nothing more than retroactive surveys that have horrible response rates and miss some of the most important demographics because of language or apathy.

The perils of the digital front door

This arguably may be one of the worst hype curve terms in healthcare and digital transformation history. It is typically followed by a disclaimer: “but I know there is really no front door in digital”. The problem is that the many “portals” are designed with a front door-first mentality when in reality the last thing current patients want is to have to navigate through a series of clicks to get to the information they need. For example, on a major provider portal I frequently use, it’s impossible to go directly to my test results or dosage updates without five clicks starting at the front door. I totally understand that security concerns may be involved with this decision but in a world of double authentication, it seems that a patient can go directly from point A to point B by going through the back door!

For more insights on Leadership, Patient Experience, Hospital@Home, Burnout, and Equity log into ICD Healthcare Network


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