The Importance of Advocacy in Health Care Marketing

Healthcare is constantly evolving, redefined almost annually through regulatory changes that can be overwhelming for even the most successful of care providers. As the foundation of care continues to shift from what care providers are and are not allowed to provide, the defining and redefining of market strategies in conjunction with these changes can leave a marketing and development team without a clear sense of direction.

Quarterly reports and plans of approach, can end up making as much sense to their executives as a Rorschach test. The potential of exposing a nerve, creating a disconnect between the executives and the marketing team is significant, but this can be prevented. Finding stability in an unstable environment begins with the simplification of approach. So it is important for a marketing team to ask the question “What is the concern of the patient, their family, their friends, and what can our company provide to better alleviate those concerns?”

Initially the answer is almost never the product from which your company is providing. This is not a negative affirmation on your product, rather a general consensus for the lack of awareness the patient or their family has in your product. This is common in all provider forms from skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, personal care homes, home care, hospice care, and medication, which to date represents nearly 18 percent of the hospital readmissions due to medication mismanagement.

So how do you bridge the gap in awareness for the needs of your prospective patient or their family? Well Rome was not built in a day, and neither is the trust of a patient or family member. Trust is earned, not with an elevator speech or a fancy brochure, rather through time and effort, through the individualization of the patient and the empowerment of their community. The ability to educate is one of the greatest opportunities one has as a healthcare marketing professional.

It is grossly underestimated and rarely executed with the necessary precision it deserves, but if a genuine effort is introduced to a prospective patient or family wither it is through think tank forums, community awareness programs, case studies, or just spending the extra time, no matter the time, with that patient or family, you will develop that much needed trust. The opportunity to educate and to be understood is far more effective when the one providing the information is looked at as an advocate or equal rather than a marketer or salesman.

Healthcare will continue to evolve, as will marketers, but the advocate will always remain the same in the eyes of the patient, so ask yourself this question, “If your health began to decline and you had to make a choice in some element of your care, not knowing if it was a life or death decision, who would you rather speak with, a marketer, or an advocate.” If you were a physician or a skilled nursing facility, or a personal care home, who would you rather speak with, a marketer, or an advocate of your patients?”

Michael Monsour Jr.