Hospitals are run like businesses, and while they deal with a host of medical challenges every day, they still need to remain profitable. One of the many business hurdles these institutions face today is how to remain competitive and attract more patients.
As modern marketing is driving the shift towards customer-centricity and empowerment, hospital admins have no choice but to incorporate marketing tactics into their business strategy. A well-planned and well-implemented marketing strategy will allow them to reach and engage new patients, enhance the quality of healthcare services, and increase hospital income. One of the most effective tools to attain these objectives are the 4 Ps of marketing. What are they?
4Ps for Hospitals - Product, Price, Place, and Promotion
The Marketing Mix is a set of tools and actions that a company uses to promote its brand and reach the target market. The original mix was proposed in the ’60s by a marketer and scholar Edmund Jerome McCarthy. It comprised four elements - product, price, place, and promotion. Although occasionally, the 7 Ps and even 8 Ps models are being used, the following four Ps are the core of all marketing campaigns:
- Product refers to the actual item (product or services) that a customer wants.
- Price is the money a customer is willing to pay for the product.
- Place deals with customer access to the product or service in question. This point not only incorporates distribution channels but also investigates how to optimize the delivery of goods to customers.
- Promotion, finally, involves marketing communication and advertising.
Let’s see now how to apply these notions to healthcare marketing.
Product - Refine Your Healthcare Services
The first element of the mix seems obvious. As a hospital, you offer healthcare services to people who arrive at your facility. But in fact, product marketing is much more complex than that.
According to Accenture, healthcare organizations have a strong ambition for market-changing innovations to drive their long-term strategies but the execution is focused on sustaining innovations around their current business models and solutions.
Only businesses that innovate their products are well-positioned for growth. That also applies to hospitals. To design a hospital marketing strategy that delivers consistent results, you must understand your patients’ pain points and regularly review your offering.
Start from defining your target patients. Audit your products and think about how they resolve the needs of each group. Maybe you should add new treatment procedures or expand your diagnostic services to tap new patients? Or introduce a “concierge” service to improve the quality of your patients’ lives? Conducting a close analysis of your products and services will allow you to identify gaps or missed opportunities in your offering.
Price - Adjust Your Pricing
The next component of the mix is the price. This one is the most challenging, as, on the one hand, you want to keep your hospital profitable, on the other, offer a fair point and ensure your services are affordable. What’s more, in the healthcare context, there are many factors involved in establishing the final price for a product/service. These include government controls, reimbursements, or individual patient’s benefits.
Some of these aspects are beyond your control. But think about opportunities where you can offer the best care to your patients at the lowest price. Remember about the varying patient groups and their needs, and offer various service tiers to accommodate each of them. Lower the cost of simple tests and procedures to encourage patients to use your services and gain their trust. A great number of hospitals and practices leverage various incentive programs run by insurance companies to reduce treatment fees for their patients.
The average hospital stay costs $10,000.
[Source: Business Insider]
Place - Make it Easy to Reach Your Hospital
In the Marketing Mix framework, place refers to providing easy, convenient access to products and services. While you may not have much impact on the physical location of your facilities, you can definitely leverage the Internet and mobile devices to make your hospital easily-accessible to your patients at any time.
Here are some ideas to facilitate access to your healthcare services:
- Offer walk-in or same-day appointments.
- Provide 24/7 phone access to your services.
- Enhance communication with your patients via social media.
- Make it easy to get to your hospital. Share driving directions and guidelines for public transport.
- Review your front desk procedures and optimize them to streamline patient onboarding. Enable pre-registration to further expedite this process.
Promotion - Embrace Modern Marketing Tactics
The last component is the promotion. It refers to the process of establishing communication with your patients and other companies. While traditional marketing tactics such as radio commercials, billboard ads, or direct mailing may still hold value in some cases, they won’t work for the new generation of patients who treat hospital like any other commercial outlet and rely predominantly on the digital media.
41% of patients say social media impacts their choice for a specific hospital or doctor.
The number of digital tools and solutions hospitals can use to up their game is virtually unlimited. We’re presenting some of them to get you started.
- Responsive website. No 21st-century business can make it without a website. It doesn’t have to be fancy and elaborate. For a few hundred dollars you can get a modern, responsive website with minimalistic design and all pertinent data. At a minimum, provide your contact details with a map, explain the hospital structure, list available treatment options, and include some pictures of your staff and facilities. Check this website for more inspiration.
- Social media profiles. A vast majority of marketers see social media as the most efficient marketing channel. Facebook or Twitter allow you to connect with existing and potential patients and share valuable information about your facility. You can use them to share information about your hospital, connect with patients, and establish authority and trust by sharing useful, professional content.
- Geofencing. This is a hot topic in the world of marketing. Geofencing is an ideal method to capture new customers within a specified geographical radius. The technology uses the global positioning system (GPS) or radio frequency identification to define geographical boundaries and then targets people who enter those boundaries. Thanks to this modern tactic, you can reach out to patients in specific districts.
Healthcare is a fast evolving industry and hospitals now compete for patients based on the cost of service and service quality. The four Ps of the Marketing Mix provide a stable foundation for them to start innovating their marketing strategy, increase patients, and position themselves for growth.