Content marketing is vital for healthcare organizations, so it’s not surprising that 83% are in some capacity engaging with content marketing. Yet, 58% state their efforts as only somewhat effective. One of the questions we hear most often from our clients in healthcare is how to create content that resonates with their audience, in addition to adding value to their organization. With the changing (and challenging) landscape of the healthcare industry, it’s difficult to know where to start.

The good news is, there is plenty of opportunity (even with HIPAA compliance in mind) to develop an effective patient-centered content marketing strategy.

Determine your organization’s goals

First things first. As marketers, your time and budget will be measured come year-end, and we need to ensure each of the strategies created tie into business goals. Start by determining the ultimate goals of your marketing efforts. Increase PCP visits? Shift non-emergency ER visits to local Walk-In clinics? Improve awareness about cancer treatment quality? Whatever they may be, identify the goals that matter to you, and find ways to align marketing efforts to those objectives.

Perhaps there’s a need for better education about what requires ER vs. Walk-In treatment. Or community members are unaware of insurance needs or options available to them that ultimately affect your bottom line. Whatever the challenge may be, there’s likely a piece of content that can help support its resolution.

Determine the needs of your patients

For content to be used/read/shared/watched it needs to be valuable to your audience. This can include patients and other relevant stakeholders. Of course, there will always be messages you need to communicate that they don’t necessarily *want* to hear. But there are a number of ways you can help improve engagement with your patient-centered content marketing.

  1. Surveys

    Consider utilizing online surveys to follow up with patients about the information they’d be interested in learning more about. Use email databases and social media networks to share the survey and encourage participation. Even consider polling patient-facing staff about common questions and concerns you could address via marketing materials.

  2. Analytics

    If you’re already sharing patient-centered content on your website and social media channels, you have some insight into what is most engaging to your audience. Check email open rates, engagement rates on social, views on blogs or downloads on online resources. One caveat: keep in mind your distribution channels. If you draw a lot of attention to specific materials via email or other means, the results may be skewed. Keep yourself honest by considering all the factors.

  3. Existing Patient Data

    Take advantage of the data you can access. There will be some limitations here, and sometimes challenges gaining access from gatekeepers. It’s worth the effort. Learn from the information you’ve collected about what types of services patients are accessing. Create supporting materials to streamline the delivery of those services, or even consider raising awareness of alternatives important to your organization.

Assess and allocate your resources

In a perfect world, you could develop a piece (or three) of content to support each and every one of your objectives and insights. What it comes down to is how well you can assess and allocate resources. Start by prioritizing your content goals. Then, determine who and what is available to you in terms of patient-centered content creation.

  • Do you have available thought leaders?

    There are hundreds of thought leaders in a healthcare organization, but how many of them are available to help you on your content quest? “Help” can mean any range of commitment. From an email interview to a weekly blog post, or a well-produced video series. There are plenty of mediums available. Ask (and ask again) for participants. Arm yourself with citable benefits of their participation (this is where those business objectives come in again). Remember to help them understand the what and why.

  • Capacity to create visuals?

    Videos, infographics, fresh photography. All of these are necessary to support your patient-centered content marketing efforts. What you’ll need to determine is to what degree. You can capture great videos on your smartphone, or bring in an expert. Keep these options in mind when developing your strategy.

  • Should you consider marketing automation?

    If you haven’t considered it yet, marketing automation can be a huge time-saver for marketers, especially when considering a content marketing strategy. Marketing automation can not only increase efficiency but help you better organize and track the success of your efforts. It does come at a monthly cost (and requires some time to manage), but most agree is worth its weight in marketing insights.

With this in mind, you should be ready to begin creating a patient-centered content marketing strategy. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, focusing on your healthcare organization’s goals, determining your audience’s needs and understanding what resources you have available are important guideposts.

Have any questions? Feel free to drop us a line.


This post was originally published July 2017.