Organic Healthcare Marketing: To DIY or Not to DIY?

Eventually, every digital marketing specialist hears this phrase from a current or would-be client: “We can do this ourselves.”

Usually, we hear this in regards to organic digital marketing. While paid digital advertising is a short-term strategy to get patients now, organic marketing is a long-term investment. Paid advertising (placing ads on Google, Facebook, etc.) requires an ongoing budget, while organic healthcare marketing typically does not.

Organic strategies include things like…

  • Posting updates about your business on Facebook
  • Adding content to your website to boost your presence in the search engines (SEO)
  • Updating your listings on Yelp, Google My Business, and more

So can these be DIY (do-it-yourself) strategies? Maybe…or maybe not. It depends on your team, their expertise, and how much time you can commit to each one.

Posting on Social Media

Chances are, most of the people who work in your office have an active social media presence. Most of them know how Facebook works and someone in the office is probably willing (even excited) to post updates, group pictures, and articles.

[FYI: We’ve prepared an extensive Healthcare SEO guide to provide more details concerning Healthcare organic marketing. And, you might enjoy learning about changes to Google’s organic marketing technologies.]

Want to do it yourself?

Go for it.

You’ll need to create a social media policy and ensure posts are HIPAA compliant. Otherwise, organic social media posts are usually best left to someone in-house who’s familiar with the day-to-day events in the office.

Keep in mind…

Posting organically on social media is not a strong strategy to win patients.

While it can help to build your brand and establish morale within the company, very few prospective patients will ever turn to social media when searching for a doctor. It’s a great side project, but for most organizations, it’s not worth investing hours and hours of your employees’ time.

Your advertising dollars are better spent on paid social media advertising: creating, testing, and fine-tuning ads that display to custom audiences. This is NOT the same as simply boosting a post. (We go over this topic in another article: The Biggest Misconception about Social Media in Healthcare.)

In general, we recommend hiring out for paid social media advertising, as it requires the skills of a designer and ad manager to frequently check in and change your target strategy.

Blogging

You may have heard that blogging regularly is a good way to boost your SEO, or search engine optimization.

SEO is an organic healthcare marketing strategy. Rather than paying to appear in the search results, you do everything you can to optimize your website in order to gain authority and rise to the top of the search engines. Regular posts (blogs) show the search engines that you are a reliable source of information for inquiring patients, helping to boost your organic presence.

Want to do SEO yourself?

If you or someone in the office has the time and skills to commit to blogging, an in-house strategy is a possibility. Some good content topics include:

  • Patient testimonials
  • Answers to common patient questions (such as how to prepare for a procedure or visit)
  • Information specific to one service or subspecialty (focusing in on, say, cataract surgery rather than ophthalmology in general)

Each blog should be at least 350 words long and target a certain keyword (or keywords) you hope to rank for in the search engines. But this can be more difficult than it sounds.

Keep in mind…

Search engine optimization is about more than your blog. It’s about more than the words on each page of your site. Meta descriptions, title tags, image tags—these are important behind-the-scenes factors with each and every post and page.

Besides, Google’s algorithm changes month after month, often weekly. And, even Microsoft’s Bing can adopt new SEO Schema standards in just days [COVID Schema.org example, March 2020]. For example, bloggers used to load up on keywords in any given blog to boost SEO (for example, a blog that uses the term “cataract surgery in New York City” 14 times in a 600 word article). Today, this strategy is strongly penalized. That’s where some in-depth and up-to-date SEO knowledge comes in handy.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it takes a long time for SEO to work its magic. You won’t notice a boost in the search engines for several months—which means you have no way of knowing if you’re wasting time with a strategy that doesn’t work either.

Some blogging can be done in-house. If your goal is simply to share this content on social media and become a thought leader, give it a try. But if your goal is to rank in the search engines, we recommend hiring out for SEO expertise.

Updating Local Listings and Doctor Listings

A final organic marketing strategy is to make sure both your local listings (on Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, Bing Places for Business, and more) and doctor listings (on sites like Healthgrades and RateMDs) are correct and up to date.

These listings help more patients get to your practice and link back to your site for better search engine optimization.

Want to do it yourself?

  • Google My Business
  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Bing Places for Business
  • YP
  • FourSquare
  • Apple Maps
  • Healthgrades
  • RateMDs
  • ZocDoc
  • Vitals

These only scratch the surface of the directories and listings you can be a part of. It’s monotonous and time consuming. But if you’ve got the time…go for it!

Keep in mind…

There are dozens and dozens of directories and listings out there. Some are free, but many specialty-specific listings (like VeinDirectory.org) require payment. The more you can claim, the better.

However, your name, address, and phone number (NAP) must be exactly the same in each directory if you expect to have any impact on SEO. You shouldn’t appear as Sarah J Mathias in one listing, Sarah J. Mathias in another, and Sarah Mathias in yet another. For the best possible results, pay attention to the details, particularly when it comes to your NAP presence.

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Gilead names remdesivir price

Gilead has named the price for its experimental COVID-19 treatment, remdesivir.

There are several prices at play in the company’s statement. For patients on private insurance, a five-day treatment course will cost $3,120. For government insurance, the cost will be $2,340 for the five-day treatment.

Those costs are determined by different prices set for different types of insurance. Gilead will charge $520 per vial for commercial insurance and $390 per vial for government insurance programs. The company also said the drug has been discounted for governments of developing countries to ensure global access.

In a letter from Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day, he explained the reasoning behind those prices.

O’Day wrote that the price of remdesivir was “well below” the amount the drug could save hospitals. Based on a study from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the antiviral medicine reduces hospital stay on average by four days, which equals about $12,000 saved per patient in the U.S., the letter reads.

However, a recent report from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), an independent pricing group, estimated the price should fall between $2,520 and $5,080. That range represents whether remdesivir is used with or without the steroid dexamethasone. ICER wrote that using dexamethasone, which last week reported successful results in COVID-19 patients in an early study, together with remdesivir would make the cost of treatment lower.

Based on the ICER report, the price set by Gilead is on the lower end of the spectrum. The letter from O’Day did not mention ICER’s price models.

The letter also explained that Gilead partnered with generic manufacturers in order to supply the drug at a lower cost. Gilead is also working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to manage allocation to hospitals. At the end of September, Gilead will take over that management again.

“In making our decision on how to price remdesivir, we considered the full scope of our responsibilities,” O’Day wrote in the open letter. “We started with our immediate responsibility to ensure price is in no way a hindrance to ensuring rapid and broad treatment. We also balanced that with our longer-term responsibilities: to continue with our ongoing work on remdesivir, to maintain our long-term research in antivirals and to invest in scientific innovation that might help generations to come. As with many other aspects of this pandemic, we are in uncharted territory in pricing remdesivir.”

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Point of care and the pandemic

At the start of 2020, individuals and organizations heavily invested in the point-of-care channel had a good reason for optimism. In the wake of allegations leveled at the end of 2017 that Outcome Health had misled and defrauded many of its pharma clients, space cleaned up its act, affirming a range of audit and verification practices designed to ensure accountability. There was every indication that point of care had the infrastructure in place to foster the magnitude of growth its earliest boosters had long envisioned.

As a result, marketers were all-in on the channel’s value proposition. “Going back 10 or 12 years when we first started our company, point of care was a line item on an out-of-home budget for most brands,” says Mesmerize president and chief revenue officer Craig Mait. “Now it has its own huge budget line. It’s impressive how far we’ve come.”

Mark Goethals, chief marketing officer of CheckedUp, agrees, adding, “Point of care was riding really high. People were using [the channel] for what it does best, which is to deliver timely information in a space that’s as sacred and important as the exam room. Before all this, anyway.”

The “all this” to which Goethals refers, of course, is COVID-19. When the pandemic prompted broad shutdowns across the United States in mid-March, there was a sense it would drag down the point-of-care channel’s momentum with it. The doomsday scenario had physician offices, pharmacies and other point-of-care venues transforming into ghost towns overnight, with all the meticulously curated content and messaging running on screens in an endless, unseen loop.

It has been an incredibly trying time for any number of reasons, point-of-care network execs agree. “I have described it as being asked to play chess while your head’s being held underwater,” says PatientPoint founder and CEO Mike Collette. “The lockdowns deprived everyone in our business of being able to operate the way we usually do, but we were still expected to make these really important strategic decisions. We were trying to plan for things that were up in the air and changing every day.”

At the same time, the cataclysmic effect some observers of the space predicted never truly came to pass. Clearly many nonessential doctor’s visits were postponed, and it’s safe to conclude that a high percentage of the messaging set to display on screens in, say, dental practices went unviewed. To that point, a study conducted by ZS in late April, when COVID-19 was ravaging the New York metropolitan area and Seattle, found that patient visit volumes had declined between 40 and 50%, depending on therapeutic category.

Ultimately, point-of-care venues never became the desolate, untrafficked landscape some had envisioned. Why? Because many patients with chronic conditions can’t simply decide to postpone care, even if they are so inclined. And because the diseases and aches and infections endemic to being human don’t bend to the whims of a pandemic, nor to most any other potentially care-altering situation.

“Cancer doesn’t stop for anything,” PatientPoint chief client officer Linda Ruschau says plainly.

So while primary-care and pediatrics practices might have seen declines in patient visits at the height (or heights) of the pandemic, most oncology practices continued to treat patients regardless of the ebb and flow of coronavirus infection in their immediate vicinity. Goethals reports that CheckedUp’s dermatology and ophthalmology clients remained open during the worst of the crisis, while Mesmerize, which acquired Pharmacy Health Network last summer, saw pharmacy visits “go up through the roof – not just to pick up prescriptions, but to do day-to-day shopping and utilize pharmacists as sounding boards. There was a sense that physicians might be too busy for those kinds of conversations,” Mait says.

Overgeneralizations based on location also factored into play. “Look, we’re all human beings. We make our assessments based on what’s happening immediately around us,” Ruschau explains. “Where are most people in our industry based? The northeast. What region was hardest hit at first? The northeast. If you were sitting in New York or New Jersey, you might have thought that everything everywhere was shut down, but that really wasn’t the case.”

Mitigating factors notwithstanding, few point-of-care network execs or marketing partners dispute that the channel absorbed its share of body blows during the first three months of the pandemic. Given that concern over a second wave of infection during the fall remains high – never mind that the first wave was never truly brought to heel – organizations with a vested interest in point-of-care content and technology have acted with the urgency a crisis of this breadth and intensity demands.

Necessity proved the mother of reinvention. Not surprisingly, given the point-of-care channel’s gradual shift over the last half-decade towards digital content, telehealth became a focus for many of the category’s network-minded players. The goal in each instance: To replicate as faithfully as possible the patient and physician experience within virtual settings.

CheckedUp debuted its bespoke Virtual Visits platform, designed to ease the telemedicine transition for specialty-care practices and their patients, in late April. Outcome Health’s Virtual Waiting Room, offering up marketing and educational content to replace the “please wait” screen at the start of telehealth consults, followed at the end of May. PatientPoint came to market two weeks later with Point of Care Anywhere, showcasing education and brand messaging at various junctures during the telehealth visit.

As for the point-of-care print players, they adjusted to a reality in which their time-tested waiting- and exam-room handouts were suddenly – and, in retrospect, a bit unfairly – deemed radioactive. Meredith’s Targeted Media Health and CoverWrap Communications (which partners with Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith and other magazine publishers on cover-wrap ad programs) asked readers to take home anything they touch. Remedy Health Media served up sealed printed materials that, in theory, allayed the fears of would-be perusers.

Health Monitor Network mailed its education guides directly to individuals in its condition-specific patient database. InStep Health, formerly known as RxEDGE Media Network, added QR codes to its in-office information, which allowed interested parties to access the material without physically touching it.

Mesmerize took a different approach, focusing its pivot more on the company’s human resources than its technological ones. It recast members of its field teams as customer-service reps and charged them with contacting client offices and offering assistance as needed. Many took Mesmerize up on that offer in the early weeks of the pandemic, especially for trusted COVID-19-related content (from the Centers for Disease Control, the Ad Council and others) to be displayed on digital wallboards.

“As it turns out, we were in close contact with physician offices at least as often as we were previously, and probably more,” Mait notes.

That close contact has become more the rule than the exception as the country slowly – and, depending on who you ask, haphazardly – reopens. Many physician’s offices are approaching their pre-pandemic patient volume, even as they have been forced to alter workflows and layouts to accommodate the continued need for social distancing.

“Clearly there’s pent-up demand for appointments,” says Goethals. He notes that this is a very encouraging development for CheckedUp and its clients, though perhaps not for him personally: “My dermatologist can’t see me until September 21.”

Point-of-care leaders aren’t approaching the reopening process with anything resembling bravado. They recognize the challenges in front of them and say they’re doing everything in their power to help coronavirus- and recession-battered practices resume regular operations. “The doctor’s office remains vital to the health and wellness of patients and society as a whole,” Mait says. “That’s where the focus is for everyone.”

But to a person, those execs believe the lessons learned and the pivots executed during the first three months of the pandemic set up the point-of-care channel for a brighter future. Central to those assessments is the inroads many of the space’s players made into telemedicine, which itself had its coming-out party during the first half of the year.

Dr. Adnaan Sheriff, a physician who works in a primary-care practice located in Amherst, New York, describes the last few months as “an eye-opener” in terms of how HCPs can use technology. He doesn’t believe that telehealth will retain all of its COVID-era gains, because insurance companies still reimburse for virtual visits at lower rates than they do in-person ones. But he believes a point-of-care mix that incorporates numerous elements of telemedicine will benefit physicians and patients alike.

“With telehealth, it was a sink-or-swim situation for us. What we’ve learned will improve the overall level of care,” Sheriff says, pointing to its expanded use in follow-ups around mental health, diabetes and musculo-skeletal injuries.

As a result, Sheriff and his office peers no longer view “regular” visits and telehealth consults through an either/or lens. The practice will continue to use PatientPoint’s Point of Care Anywhere platform for telehealth and the company’s Interact platform in its exam rooms.

Indeed, such platforms could prove even more useful as patients continue to return to physician’s offices. Over the next year, the waiting room for many practices is as likely to be the patient’s car as it is the waiting room itself. Companies that make it easy for doctors to efficiently transition to virtual points of care, either independent of in-person visits or in conjunction with them, could find themselves top-of-mind options – both for HCPs and the brand marketers who crave more (virtual) face time with them and their patients.

Which means that, somewhat counterintuitively, the COVID-19 pandemic might be remembered by point-of-care devotees as a triggering incident, one that forced change on a business that has historically been hesitant to embrace it. “One of the things we’ve learned is that we have to build products much more flexibly, so that they can accommodate all patient behaviors and patient-flow processes,” Collette says. “You have to adapt. Don’t try to change the wind; just adjust your sails.”

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Coronavirus Briefing: The marketing/communications community, eldercare issues and damning data

Prior to each of the roughly 472 viewings of Paddington 2 in my house during the last few months, I have cracked the same unfortunate Dad joke to the same groaning audience of two: “A second Paddington movie? Were there that many questions left unanswered by the first one?”

I bring this up because we appear to be talking coronavirus sequels (COVID-19 2: The Next Wave) way before the credits have started to roll on the first flick. In many parts of the world – and particularly in the United States – regions barely touched in April and May are reporting troubling upticks in infection rates. And given that we’ve made the collective decision to bust out of quarantine, there’s a distinct possibility that we’re gonna have a serious summer spike on our hands before too long. I worry. Wear a mask, please.

Meanwhile, Paddington 2 is one of the most preternaturally charming movies of the last half-decade and does more to lift my spirits than anything that isn’t slathered in ketchup. File away that one in the hot-take drawer, y’all.

This week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,210 words and will take you six minutes to read.


The marketers and communicators

We’re biased, given what some of us do for a living at Haymarket Media. But it sure seems the marketing and communications industries have gone about their business smartly, responsibly and empathetically since this craziness began.

The Takeaway:

Many of these people and organizations have managed to find opportunity in unexpected places. They shouldn’t be over-celebrated, given the volume of job losses in certain sectors and geographies, but largely they’ve made lemonade out of lemons, so to speak. In many instances, it’s impressive to behold.


covid testing
Source: Getty

The testing

It seems intuitive that, to determine whether or not something exists, one might create conditions or operations that will lead to its proof or disproof, or to its acceptance or rejection – to “test” for it, if you will. Alas, coronavirus testing capacity still appears to vary wildly from region to region, which muddies a statistical picture that was opaque to begin with, and that’s before vaccine clinical trials have truly ramped up. Not great.

The Takeaway:

The more we test, the faster we get back to whatever normal is going to be.


Florida hits 100,000 mark as state confirms another 2,926 daily coronavirus cases
Source: Getty

The spread

Nobody truly believed we’d be close to KO’ing the coronavirus by now, but it didn’t seem too ambitious to think we’d be able to gently compress the curve, if not flatten it entirely. But although rates are declining in hard hit areas including New York and New Jersey, other regions are seeing spikes.

The Takeaway:

Once more, with feeling: Please wear a mask.


Walking down a corridor with help
Source: Getty

The elders

We’ve said it before: At some point, there needs to be a reckoning around our treatment of older, vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic – and that’s to say nothing of the support staff at eldercare facilities. But, more than three months into this thing, the situation hasn’t improved to a point where anyone should feel remotely good about it.

The Takeaway:

Here’s hoping we address the issues immediately in front of us before we start assigning blame.


The rest

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Publicis Health revamps internship program into virtual summer academy in light of pandemic

As students around the world face canceled internships or summer jobs, Publicis Health has reinvented its traditional internship program into a virtual summer academy.

Instead of working 40-hour weeks in one of Publicis’ offices, students are gaining experience through mentors, weekly virtual workshops, professional development, and networking. With the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency wanted to continue making its program accessible to students that may not be able to relocate or go into a physical office because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Laurie Mellon, SVP of talent programs at Publicis Health.

“A great outcome here is that we were able to include more students in the academy than we could have in-house, we normally have about 60 in internships and have 87 in the academy,” Mellon said. “We have people all over the country taking part, representing schools and states we’ve never had in the program before. We have one person in Australia and one in Turkey. It has been awesome to open it up to such a wide audience and for them to learn with us in the comfort of their own home.”

The virtual academy also opens the agency and access to its staff up to more students who may not normally be able to move to or afford to rent in cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago for the summer.

The lockdown from the coronavirus pandemic, that forced agency employees to work remote, came right about the time Publicis Health was making offers for summer internships. Mellon said the team quickly pivoted to the virtual program because they didn’t want to put students in a situation where they had to decide between staying safe or taking the internship opportunity.

“Every week they are introduced to a topic in the industry, a senior leader in the industry, or a department or job path they’re interested in on their own time,” Mellon said. “They’ve been paired with a mentor who they’ll meet with and can utilize that relationship however they want. Whether it’s a friendly ear, someone in a job path they’re interested in, or to open their eyes to the types of programs we use. We’re also doing some professional development for them, like resume and portfolio workshops, and virtual networking.”

At the end of the eight-week program, the students will receive a certificate from Publicis Health. “It will have our name and our backing, recognizing the fact that they committed to learning about our industry this summer,” Mellon said.

While it’s not a traditional internship, these students will still have the learning experience and have gained contacts in the industry.

A huge part of the internship program for Publicis Health is exposing students to a career in healthcare marketing, often not part of many college curriculums, and building a pipeline of talent.

“There’s so much passion in our organization and dedication to identifying and evaluating great talent and introducing them to a career in health as a student, which is something many of them have probably never thought about before,” Mellon said. “We want to open their eyes to new pathways and talk to them about what we do and what our healthcare clients do. The program allows great candidates to learn with us and mentor with us while balancing their lives during an uncertain time.”

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Federal health officials appear before House committee to discuss coronavirus

Health officials from various agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hearing ranged from vaccines and treatments to reopening strategies. The health leaders also rebuked some of President Donald Trump’s assertions about the outbreak.

Notably, health leaders contradicted some of President Trump’s recent claims. They emphasized the importance of a high volume of testing, shortly after President Trump said he wanted to see less testing.

“We are proceeding in just the opposite. We want to do more testing and of higher quality,” said Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health for HHS. “The only way that we will be able to understand who has the disease, who is infected, and can pass it, and to do appropriate contact tracing is to test appropriately, smartly and as many people as we can.”

In the official testimony, the officials said testing had reached between 400,000 and 500,000 tests per day nationwide, with the expectation that number will continue to increase.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called the current uptick in COVID-19 cases in states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona “very troublesome to me.” He warned the coming weeks are critical to slowing the spread in these areas.

Some lawmakers questioned the pace at which the health agencies were moving to get a coronavirus vaccine to market, concerned that the speed was reflective of cutting corners, but the health leaders denied that.

“I can promise we will work with companies and Operation Warp Speed to provide assistance so the right studies are done with right information,” said Dr. Stehpen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. “We will independently look at those data to make decisions, and we will use science and data to do that.”

Fauci agreed and went further, suggesting that the “Warp Speed” name gave the wrong impression.

“There were some good intentions about using the words ‘Warp Speed,’ but I flinched because people might think it’s reckless,” Fauci explained. “There are risks, but they are all financial risks, not compromising safety at all, nor compromising scientific integrity. This program says we are going to assume it’s going to work and put investment in phase 3, even before we know phase 1 is successful or make doses before we know its effective. It is cutting down on time, but not cutting down on investments in safety in science. The only thing you might lose is a lot of money. I would rather lose a lot of money and gain 4, 5, 6, 7 months, than have results and have to wait months for the vaccine.”

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The secrets of a virtual pitch

In a matter of days, the agency world turned upside down because of the coronavirus. Suddenly, everyone was working from home, events and travel were canceled and the traditional in-person pitch meeting went virtual.

Agencies needed to act fast.

Pitch meetings have been the same for many years: travel to the client’s location, set up the room with food, freebies or pieces of creative and be sure to make eye contact. But in a virtual environment, many of the usual tactics are off the table.

“It’s all about perfecting the art of live video,” said Wendy Lund, CEO of GCI Health. “We would get really creative bringing in things like food or placemats, those things that you bring into the room to create some drama or theater, but you can’t do that. For us, it’s been about keeping it simple and making sure the ideas come through, the technology comes through and the passion comes through.”

With Zoom pitches, sometimes the little things are what can make the meeting more engaging. VMLY&R Health chief business officer Howard Courtemanche offered a few tips after participating in more than 10 virtual pitches.

“It’s everything from the angle of the camera, standing up rather than sitting down, make sure the light isn’t coming behind you,” he said. “There’s also things like having just one person clicking the slides, who knows the cadence of the speaker. Our new business person knows when I stop talking, they count ‘one-two’ and then click, as opposed to saying ‘next slide.’”

The solution is simply rehearsing. Courtemanche said his teams have never rehearsed more for their pitches. Even with all the extra preparation, making connections via video chat is much more difficult.

The typical pre-meeting chit-chat is often lost in video calls. Even designated time for Q&A can go unused, Courtemanche has noticed. Potential clients simply aren’t asking as many questions in video pitches as in an in-person pitch.

In order to help the potential client get to know the team, pre-submission videos have become much more important.

“Knowing that it can be harder to convey chemistry in a virtual environment, which is really crucial to selecting an agency, we created a video of each person on the team that’s shared with prospective clients in advance,” said Jessie McDonald, VP at Imre Health. “That gives them an idea of our personality and helps our capabilities and creativity shine through.”

A perk of the virtual environment is that it allows more people to participate in the pitch. Courtemanche has been able to bring in people across offices to virtual pitches and has found it still “comes off like you’re in one room,” he said.

Lund has found virtual pitches allow more time to focus on the content, rather than travel logistics, booking meeting rooms or ordering catering.

“All the behind the scenes things that the client never sees, we take that time and throw it back into the presentation,” she said.

A major drawback can be the technology itself. Video conferencing software can be finicky with dropped calls, spotty Wi-Fi and wonky audio and video.

McDonald said her teams always have a backup prepared. If the video call crashes, they are all ready to dial in on their phones in order to keep the pitch running smoothly, which she said has happened. With everyone working from home, there’s also the constant risk of dogs barking or kids barging into the room.

“We have definitely had our fair share of interruptions, like cats meowing,” McDonald said. “Sometimes it’s actually nice. It brings some levity to the conversation. This pandemic and the need to conduct virtual business has leveled the playing field and reminded everyone we’re all human.”

Lund has noticed a similar trend. She has found prospective clients are far more understanding and patient with technology issues or unexpected interruptions then ever.

“When we have had technology meltdowns, clients are very understanding of how hard that is,” Lund said. “When there was a technology glitch in the past, I don’t know if they had the same patience as they do now. We’re all perfecting the technology. Clients have been really amazing and extremely patient and understanding. Everybody wants it to work. Everybody wants these things to go well and we’re all learning from it.”

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Unpacking what HCP engagement means today

Engaging HCPs has always relied on the 4Rs: right message, right target, right channel, and the right time. But what do HCPs want and need now that will create an opportunity to receive your brand’s marketing message?

liveworld logo

As an agency named by MM&M as “Ones to Watch,” with deep roots in social media and online community management, here’s our take on how to adapt HCP marketing to power your brand.

Pinpoint your HCPs’ pain points

Unlike traditional NPP, digital marketing gives you the power to truly speak to your HCPs as individual people with unique needs, so it’s vital to ask some important questions.  What is their subspecialty and prescribing habits? Are they in small practices or large? How is COVID-19 impacting their practice? Are they working in a metropolitan area impacted by the pandemic? Or, are they pediatricians and Ob-Gyns trying to maintain health and wellness remotely?

The answers will help you segment your audiences, driving uniquely relevant content that is more likely to capture attention, views, clicks, responses, and conversions. Unlike traditional HCP content, focused on science with an occasional nod to the emotional benefits to the patient, consider content that is more stimulating, contextually relevant, and personalized based on behaviors/interactions, and data.  Digital marketing enables marketers to deliver brand touchpoints that are more targeted and frequent, in the channels HCPs use throughout their day and available on-demand. And the best part: it can all be repurposed across your brand’s digital footprint, in online advertising, social media, PR, and other channels to create tremendous efficiency and increased reach.

Digital is more than a short-term fix 

The pandemic has accelerated the use of digital channels to engage HCPs. Almost every brand has embraced virtual meetings and email to compensate for the absence of face-to-face rep calls. The Wall Street Journal reported, according to Veeva, during April virtual meetings increased from 4900 to 316,000, and emails to physicians grew from 1.2 million to 7 million. Unfortunately, many brands bombarding HCPs with digital messaging will get lost in the sauce.

Turning to digital is often an automatic stopgap reflex. But many pharma brands have simply checked the box on digital assets in spite of elaborate investments in unbranded and branded websites, surveys show that HCPs go elsewhere as their first source of information. Too many pharma sites use similar imagery and have the feel and functionality of 1999. Savvy marketers are embracing new content forms, more video, interactive elements, infographics, games and simulations, and chat or infobots to build connections, conversations, and repeat site visits. The integration of data and AI should expand our ability to personalize and persuade more effectively.

Social media is a growing opportunity to intersect and engage with HCPs. Covid-19 has prompted significant membership, traffic and usage spikes on Doximity, Sermo, and Medscape, the gated communities dedicated to peer-to-peer interactions among HCPs. HCPs are also accessible on public social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn where geographical and condition-based groups are firming and growing.

Digital NPP is the new normal 

Traditional NPP starts losing value as soon as it’s created. Static messages and marketing mixes are unable to anticipate or respond to HCPs’ changing needs, rapidly changing clinical environments, competitive moves, or the advent of new communications platforms. Nimble marketers understand that every campaign idea and every element have to stimulate thoughts, feelings, and action. They are reconsidering how they allocate budgets to allow for the rapid pivots that digital marketing and social media provide. And each of these channels, synchronized and coordinated with links, search optimization, and paid media amplification, create a synergy in which the sum is greater than each of its parts.

HCPs are eager to engage with pharma on-demand and on their own terms. Skillful use of digital assets is the best tool to engage and build lasting relationships in a changing, competitive marketplace.

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5 Medical Website Must-Haves to Win More Patients

The right mix of search engine optimization and digital advertising can bring more prospective patients to your site. But if your medical website is missing these key elements, your efforts may be wasted. Win more patients with our top 5 medical website design must-haves.

Photos of People Feeling Their Best

We find that a website is only as good as its photos. Photography can make or break a healthcare website; patients either relate to the content or cringe and click away. We always recommend photographs of people feeling their best.

Here’s what you want to avoid (and we’ve seen ALL of these errors and more on medical websites):

  • Blood
  • Internal organs
  • Close-ups of injured body parts
  • Miserable sick people
  • People in obvious pain
  • Wounds or infections

And here are some examples of what you should have on your site (depending on your services, of course):

  • Individuals on a hike or a bike ride 
  • Parents enjoying activities with their children
  • Happy families enjoying the local scenery
  • New moms and happy babies
  • Active seniors
  • People smiling while talking to their doctors

Why would you risk alienating a portion of the population with upsetting, gory photos? Patients want to see what you can do for them, and you can illustrate that with photography. There’s a lot of great stock photography out there, and much of it is free. (Try Unsplash or Pexels.)

A Form to Fill Out

The widespread use of email and texting means that patients are more reluctant to pick up a phone and call you. They may feel anxious about making the call, or they’re simply too busy. Either way, giving patients the chance to request an appointment online with a simple form is the right call.

This gives your team the chance to reach out proactively when a front desk employee is available and attentive. We’ve found that the best chance for conversions comes from calling prospective patients back within about 5 minutes (but better late than never).

Of course, a website form must be HIPAA-compliant if it contains patient data. If you work with a web developer or a marketing team, make sure they use a service like IntakeQ for HIPAA compliance. (Better yet, only work with a healthcare marketing agency that knows the ins and outs of protecting patient information.)

Easy-to-Find Location Information

This might seem like a given, but you’d be surprised at how many websites we’ve seen without any clear information about location! And this includes larger health systems and hospital websites.

Within a few seconds of looking at your site, a patient should be able to tell what city you’re in, and they should find your address on every page. We recommend keeping the address in the footer, and providing an interactive map on the “Contact Us” page (and several others).

Mobile Responsiveness

Because more people now search the web on mobile devices than on computers, Google prioritizes mobile responsive sites in their algorithms. That means mobile responsive websites rank higher in the search engines—because they’re so much better for the average searcher.

Many companies incorrectly assume their sites are mobile responsive when they are, in fact, mobile friendly. A “mobile-friendly” site is designed with mobile devices in mind. However, this site version may not contain all of the content and capabilities of the desktop version.

You can tell whether a site is mobile-responsive (not just mobile friendly) by adjusting the size of the browser window of your computer. Content should adjust to the size of the window as it gets smaller, rearranging the content and changing the spacing as needed. Not only will you attract more searchers; you can win more patients with an easy-to-use responsive site.

Mobile Optimization

Just because a website is mobile responsive, doesn’t mean it’s designed with mobile users in mind. Keep in mind that a mobile user is likely looking for fast information, but a wordy, confusing website can get in the way.

So we’re introducing yet another mobile term, “mobile optimization.” To optimize for mobile, you’ll want to make sure your website experience reflects standard mobile user behavior. That means you’ll need:

  • A long-scrolling home page with quick bursts of information about your business.
  • Paragraphs that are no more than a few sentences long.
  • Plenty of headers (H1s, H2s, & H3s) throughout your copy.
  • Click-to-call links. (Believe it or not, having to copy+paste your phone number is a deal-breaker to many.)
  • An uncluttered “hamburger” menu.

Keep mobile users in mind throughout the design of your website. A well-optimized, mobile-responsive site is great for desktop users too!

Win more patients with a website that convinces people to call. And work with our healthcare marketing agency for a true marketing partnership. Call Healthcare Success at 800-656-0907.

The post 5 Medical Website Must-Haves to Win More Patients appeared first on Healthcare Success.

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WPP makes $30m three-year anti-racism pledge

WPP will invest $30m over three years to combat racism, the holding group has announced. This amount will be used to fund inclusion programs within the company and to support external organizations in this growing battle.

The business said it would make donations, offer services pro bono and work with media partners to support charities and other organizations committed to fighting racism, developing “minority” talent, and addressing issues that affect people of color. WPP will also match employee donations to charities selected in consultation with its WPP Roots steering committee up to $1,000 per person to a total of $1m.

“WPP must support and elevate black employees, and those from other under-represented groups, not as a diversity and inclusion initiative but as a business and moral imperative,” chief executive Mark Read stated in a release. “Over the last three weeks, I have heard an outpouring of pain, anger, and frustration from black colleagues, along with clear demands for change. This is the moment to embrace that change and to use our creativity, our scale, and our influence to make a difference in the fight against racism.”

The announcements are part of WPP’s set of commitments and actions to help combat racial injustice and support black and minority-ethnic talent. The group stated that it will take “decisive action” on each of the 12 points in the “Call for change” open letter to the industry from more than 1,200 black advertising professionals. Internally, WPP says it will review its hiring, retention, promotion, and development practices, and publish racial-diversity data.

Already, WPP agencies have taken or are in the process of taking many of the actions, the network contended, but it will implement all 12 throughout WPP on an accelerated timescale.

WPP, which admits it has work to do on racial diversity, says this new push includes setting targets, tracking the progression of under-represented groups, and publishing racial-diversity data. It will also undertake a comprehensive review of its policies, processes, and practices so that they elevate talent, the group noted.

As part of this push, WPP will engage with clients, partners, peers, industry bodies, event organizers and suppliers to ensure minority-ethnic talent is fairly represented not only at work but in the industry and wider networks. The group will, for instance, formally commit to participate only in events or panels where people of color are represented, in line with the pledge Read signed some time ago not to participate in male-only panels. The network will also identify and put forward people of color as speakers at events to proactively raise their visibility and it will review supplier diversity to give greater support to minority-owned businesses.

To ensure these targets are met, WPP’s new Global Inclusion Council will work with Reading and the executive committee. A task force dedicated to advancing the opportunities and interests of black colleagues specifically will advise this committee. WPP’s statement noted that leaders of the group’s global agency networks have signed these commitments and will be held accountable for delivering them within their businesses.

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