Marketing Your Telehealth Services to Your Community
Marketing is first and foremost a strategy. Marketing itself is not advertising and cold-calling, glossy brochures and sweepstakes, although all of those could be good (or bad) marketing tactics that are part of an organization’s strategy.
Marketing is the strategy for getting those who can benefit from your service to know you and trust you enough to become a customer (a.k.a., patient).
Healthcare is becoming an increasingly competitive space, especially since so many healthcare services are now available online, eliminating the traditional barrier to entry of a physical location close to the patients. In addition, the expectations of the Modern Healthcare Consumer have changed dramatically over the past 10 years and even more so in response to the Covid-19 health crisis.
Whereas it was previously sufficient just to be “known” in the community, the multitude of today’s advertising channels (TV and YouTube; Radio and Podcasts; Newspapers, Magazines and Billboards; Social Media) make it difficult for smaller health centers to budget and decide appropriately where to invest their limited “marketing” dollars.
Tactic 0: Internal Telehealth Marketing
As my consulting mentor taught me many years ago: the first sale is to yourself.
The same holds true for marketing your telehealth services: You first need to convince your organization – your clinicians, staff, leadership that the telehealth service offerings you have are valuable, clinically efficacious and financially sustainable.
You can’t sell what your organization does not believe in.
Thus, your first Telehealth Marketing Tactic is to ensure that everyone involved in telehealth (from the schedulers, the front desk staff to the nurses, clinicians, and billing team) is convinced that telehealth, under the right circumstances, is a valuable service to offer to patients.
This shift is best achieved by consciously following a change management approach to make sure that everyone is on board.
For clinicians, training on how to best use the technology to “deliver care at a distance” (e.g., on webside manners) is critical for successful marketing of telehealth. If your clinicians are not convinced, then no marketing dollars will help to increase utilization.
Tactic 1: Your Clinicians are Your Best Salespeople
After you’ve invested time and money to make sure that the organization is supportive of telehealth, the single-most effective marketing tactic to increase the utilization of telehealth is through your clinicians.
When clinicians recommend the use of telehealth for future visits to their patients, it is very likely that patients will take them up on their offer. Trust between clinicians and patients is typically very high, and consumers will “buy” from those they trust.
If you want to increase the use of telehealth by your existing patients, then investing in making it easy for clinicians to recommend telehealth will provide you with the best return on your investment.