Review, Revise, Prioritise – Applying 2020’s takeaways to your 2021 strategies.

  • February 5, 2021
  • Online Marketing
  • Published Articles
  • Strategic Marketing

Throughout 2020, we saw practices innovate in their business and marketing to survive and push ahead. Priorities shifted, many reactionary changes were made to existing plans, and new systems and procedures were rapidly developed to maintain function under pressure.

Now that 2020 is in hindsight, the time has come to begin proactively applying the lessons learned to create better practice outcomes for 2021. Below, we discuss some of the key takeaways of 2020 and how they can be practically implemented as we begin strategising and marketing in 2021.

Review your system additions

As restrictions came and went throughout the pandemic period, practices were quick to develop new internal systems and procedures. Although some are inconvenient, others have proved beneficial in the long-term and may be worth maintaining. In developing your business plans for 2021, considering the adaptions implemented by your practice in 2020 and their ongoing usage is critical.

Review your website

Your website forms an important base for all your online operations, and developing and improving its functionality should always be a priority. However, this happened with unanticipated speed in 2020 for many practices, and many added untested resources and functionality as a result. Moving forward, carefully evaluating the role these features play and whether or not they are effective is paramount.

How to implement:

Any website information or features that were added in haste in 2020 – particularly features such as telehealth support, online booking, or COVID-19 information – should be reviewed. Items that are no longer relevant and are unlikely to retain use should be removed, and resources which still hold value should be updated, formalised, and improved to provide lasting support.

Telehealth           

A recent Commbank survey found that the amount of GP practices offering telehealth consultations increased to 95% in 2020, up from just 19% in 2019. Adoption among specialists and allied health services has also increased dramatically. However, many practices are set to cease telehealth services after Medicare funding for the service ends in March. If your practice is part of the majority that already has these systems in place, their role in the future of your business should be considered.

How to implement:

If you have not yet done so, the time is now to evaluate the benefit that this marker of pandemic-era healthcare brings to your practice. If you are able to do so without Medicare support, maintaining a telehealth service can form a noteworthy sales point against competitors who cease its operation.

Connections and integrations

Particularly where digital activity is concerned, marketing is never a solo event. Effective integration between all involved platforms – your website, your practice management software, your reception team, and any relevant third-parties – can save hours of time for your staff, and streamline patient processes.

How to implement:

Websites can be integrated with practice management software to produce simple, all-encompassing patient portals that can handle everything from patient bookings and intake forms to resource distribution and patient education. If your services are not connected (or the connections could be improved), this is the time to investigate how this can be done.

Patient intake forms, for example, are easily digitised, making them easier for patients to complete and for staff to keep track of. If your practice staff tend to struggle or be slowed down by certain activities, it may be worth investigating how digital integration can benefit your practice in 2021.

Prepare to be agile

Perhaps the key takeaway of 2020 is the importance of being able to effectively change direction when required. Lockdowns, restrictions, and subsequent budget impacts forced agility into all aspects of business, which should be reflected with a proactive stance as we develop plans for the future. In your 2021 marketing plan, this can be done by implementing malleable strategies which can be easily pivoted should the need arise.

Develop visibility

Regardless of your message, its impact can only be realised if it can be effectively seen by those who need to see it. Developing good visibility – for your campaigns, communications, and social platforms ­­– increases your reach and can lead to better marketing results. If pivoting becomes necessary, having good visibility also allows for effective communication on a larger scale.

How to implement:

Maintain a constant presence. You can do this practically by getting to know your channels of information distribution – including your social media, website, and other avenues of outreach and publication – and making sure they are regularly updated to maximise their effectiveness.

Get to know your patients

Developing a strong knowledge of your target market’s needs and behaviours lends the advantage of insight to your marketing operations: marketers who truly understand their target market can connect with them in a way which resonates. Understanding the types of language used by patients, their priorities, and how and where they search for information also allows a practice to pivot easier if the need arises, as marketing communications can be tailored to best suit the intended recipient.

How to implement:

The best way to develop this knowledge is by simply talking to your patients. You may choose to do this online ­– particularly through your website, database or social media in an AHPRA-complaint manner – or by interacting in-person. This allows you to understand their experience and ensure your practice can pivot and optimise accordingly.

From an information perspective, getting to know your patients may also include collecting relevant data to effectively produce relevant and engaging content. There are many ways this can be done, and deciding on what information to gather and how it should be collected is best decided in consultation with an experienced medical marketing professional.

Review your plan regularly

While having a marketing plan is essential for success, there is no sense in holding onto an ineffective strategy for arbitrary consistency. Remember to review and re-evaluate your marketing plan regularly throughout the year – if your situation or business goals change, don’t hesitate to talk to your marketing team about regrouping, repositioning yourself, and adjusting your messaging to keep your marketing at its most effective.

How to implement:

Although it can be tempting to delay and put dedicated review sessions off, they are necessary for maintaining the maximum effectiveness of your campaign. If time is a challenge, talk to your marketing team about factoring this into the plan. Shorter, more regular reviews may suit you better than annual full day sessions.

Improve patient experience

The pandemic period has been marked by shifting expectations for health and safety, which left many patients feeling uncertain at times. In 2021, we can improve patient experience by instilling confidence in our patients, clients and suppliers.

Safety measures

Although it serves well to show your patients that you care about providing a safe experience, having a COVID-safe and sanitary environment is an expectation, not a luxury, and many patients are beginning to tire of hearing about the pandemic. Your safety measures should be a supplement to a stronger message about your practice, rather than the focus of your campaign.

How to implement:

Most patients are tired of hearing about pandemic restrictions; however, do not neglect the persisting need for this information. Particularly as restrictions continue to change, COVID-19 information can be distributed through your website and internal practice signage to guide and affirm without disrupting. Utilise more engaging channels like email and social media to communication messages about your practice brand and services.

Prioritise communication

Establishing a system of open communication in which everyone is informed, able to comfortably and easily ask questions, and get clear answer is key to marketing success. If a patient has a question about their care, being able to receive a clear, timely answer will do a great deal in reassuring them that their needs and concerns are valued.

How to implement:

Your website is an excellent platform for patient communication and education, as it can easily reach both current patients and prospective ones. Providing clear and accurate information about your services, bookings and other helpful health information can make the patient experience infinitely easier, and making essential paperwork and bookings available for completion online will streamline your internal processes when well-supported and managed internally.

Moving forward…

For further assistance in implementing a strategy for marketing success in 2021, contact Vividus at www.healthcaremarketing.com.au to arrange a consultation. We have over 10 years’ experience in successfully marketing healthcare professionals and businesses, and can help you achieve your business goals in the year ahead.

The content in this article was published in Doctor magazine January/February 2021 edition. Click below to download the PDF version of the print article.

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