Engagement Marketing in Healthcare - It’s Even More Important After Discharge

My wife recently had an outpatient procedure at one of the best hospitals in the country. Thankfully, everything went well; and our experience at the hospital was first-class. But as I drove us home and struggled to remember most of the instructions we were given post-op, the marketer in me began to think about ways hospitals can use engagement marketing techniques and technologies to better improve the patient discharge experience and drive significant financial benefits at the same time.

The Potential

According to data from Medicare, at least 20% of patients who are discharged from hospitals or other medical facilities make a repeat visit. The costs of these re-admissions exceed $17 billion per year and are growing. Spurred on by the penalties and other provisions for re-admission in the Affordable Care Act, hospitals, consultants, industry experts, and others are all seeking ways to reduce this number.

While not a panacea, one simple solution is better patient engagement and education throughout the process. Industry studies have shown that patients who have a clear understanding of after-care instructions are 30% less likely to re-admit. When you’re talking the health and happiness of patients and billions of dollars in potential savings, any chance at improvement should be seriously considered. And sometimes, the simplest can be the most effective.

The Payoff

At Marketo, our teams work with healthcare providers from all across the country to create ways to better engage with new and returning patients, nurture them through the entire experience, educate them, and even engage their family caregivers to improve the overall quality of their experience. These customers and those who use marketing automation and engagement technologies see a wide range of financial benefits, including a significant reduction in patient re-admission rates.

A good example of this is Kindred Healthcare, a Kentucky-based post-acute care provider. Using marketing automation technology, Kindred has been able to improve engagement with patients and caregivers through targeted, relevant content that answers the major questions healthcare providers are asking. The results in a short period of time are impressive: a 4.1% reduction in re-hospitalization from transition care facilities and a 5.1% reduction in re-hospitalization from nursing and rehabilitation facilities.

Other providers I’ve spoken with report another additional benefit. As family caregivers engage in the content and education provided, they are more apt to choose the same hospital for any elective surgeries or procedures they have coming up as well. Hospitals are reporting higher satisfaction rates as patients and family members have more content at their fingertips.

So what are the lessons we can glean from healthcare? Well, they aren’t isolated to that industry. In fact, marketers can apply them anywhere:

  • Relevant content and messaging are critical—and so is the ability to deliver them with an understanding of who your individual customer is. Kindred Healthcare started by surveying their audiences to understand what their biggest concerns are and then developed content that addresses them.
  • Build loyalty and advocacy over time because happy customers drive referrals. This is true of any business model—business-to-business or business-to-consumer. Your customers are your prospects, too. In fact, research from Teradata shows that 61% of people would to tell their friends and family about their good experiences and that 27% would sign up for a company’s loyalty program.
  • Engage customers continuously over time—with messages and content relevant to their situation that drives them toward a desired action or outcome. Being mindful of who your audience is and what resonates with them the most will help push them further along in the customer lifecycle.

And these steps are all made simpler for the marketer with the right technology. In an industry so complex, it’s refreshing to see that there are still simple solutions that can drive so much value across the entire customer lifecycle, from awareness of a medical facility to post-discharge.

Now, if I can just find that piece of paper they gave me, so I know when to give her that medicine…