Crimson Convo with Whitney Jones
Our latest Crimson Convo is with a performance marketing powerhouse and friend, Whitney Jones. Today we’re diving into the regulations, expectations, and COVID-19 impact of healthcare marketing. Let’s jump into her diagnosis!
Please introduce yourself! Tell us a little bit about your background, and current role.
My name is Whitney Jones and I’m a healthcare marketing leader and strategist with 16 years experience across sales and marketing in B2C and B2B. I’ve spent the last 11 years focused on increasing business and profitability of healthcare companies, both on the provider side in the orthopedic space as well as in the medical supplies and pharmaceutical space.
Today, I lead a team of digital marketing managers and consultants in an Enterprise role at Cardinal Health, a Fortune 15 company, supporting multi-billion dollar businesses within Cardinal Health’s portfolio.
Having worked for a number of healthcare brands in your career, what are the biggest takeaways you’ve learned?
In B2C healthcare marketing, it is critical to first and foremost think of the patient. Caring for a patient should begin the moment you initially connect, regardless of the channel.
How can you help them?
What do they need from you as an organization to get good care?
What are they worried about?
So to be successful, the goal is to both connect with patients, and compel them to take the next step in receiving care. Further, focus on what you have to offer them that’s unique, and then remove as many barriers as possible (to providing care). If you do those things, you will honestly earn more patients and more business.
What role should personalization play in healthcare marketing? Where is the line between being effective and being “creepy”?
It is important to get this right. The rule I like to follow is to use the information that has been directly provided to you to create a better experience in expected channels. For instance, in email it is helpful to be more personalized and use information to connect and show that you’re listening when data has been provided to you. So when you have a patient portal or content behind a login, personalization is more welcomed, expected and accepted.
Never use third-party data in healthcare to personalize messages to patients in channels that are unexpected, like social media or display. With that, you will be seen as creepy and not as a trusted resource; that does not equal conversion.
What is the best way to navigate HIPAA regulations regarding marketing?
The best way to navigate HIPAA regulations is to follow the recommendations of your counsel when creating your plans. They are the best resources to navigate your specific situation and protect your business. If something is in a gray area, reach out to them early to come to an agreement on what options you have. So erring on the side of caution shows that you care about your patients’ information and that you’ll protect them as required.
Are there any common hurdles that marketers in the healthcare space have to learn to overcome?
Healthcare is a highly-regulated industry, so marketers need to…
Ensure the accuracy of their information and statements, but also compel action. That can be a hard balance for some, but there is leeway to operate successfully within those lines to support business.
Understand the care and concern over patient data and data protection that is expected in healthcare marketing. That can impact the selection of systems, data integrations and the set up and syncing of those systems. Carefully consider these elements as you map out your marketing programs.
Know that revenue and reimbursement numbers can vary because of payer reimbursement. This makes it more difficult to get true return on investment numbers for marketing programs and campaigns. Reimbursement numbers can also change based on payer contracts, being in-network or out-of-network, etc. It is important to gain internal alignment on your metrics for revenue or profit. That will help prove success and (therefore) expand your campaigns.
How have you had to refocus or pivot your healthcare marketing strategies in the wake of COVID-19?
COVID-19 has had a big impact on so many current marketing plans and programs. Our businesses, our jobs, our families, education and child-rearing, etc. are changing each day and week. It is important to assess evergreen or annual campaigns to make sure they are warranted, and ensure the message is appropriate.
This is severely impacting the healthcare industry as a whole, as well as patients and their care plans. So, it is important to stop and think:
Is it the right time to deliver this message to a customer, a patient or a prospect?
Will this be helpful during a time when many are dealing with an unprecedented crisis in their organization?
Similarly, some offerings are more necessary now than ever. Think about pivoting your programs to focus on the greater needs of the healthcare community, and the patients you serve.
Therefore, as we all continue to navigate this (COVID-19) situation, it’s critical to continue to monitor and adjust not only business plans, but marketing and communications plans too. Organizations that can be nimble and take a critical look at their marketing programs, and adjust quickly, will be in the best position for success.
Appreciate your insights, Whitney! Any additional thoughts or tips?
Consider using research and survey information to better understand patients and what their needs are as they consider treatment and services. Use qualitative and quantitative data to inform your marketing strategy, creative, and patient experience. So when in doubt, ask your patients! You might be surprised by what they share that can be invaluable to your marketing program and business.