A Strategic, Proven Formula to Grow Service Line Revenue
Over the last 20 years, the role of service lines and healthcare systems’ dependence on them as revenue generators have grown tremendously. In an ever-changing healthcare landscape with a push toward heightened transparency, likely transition to value-based reimbursements, and healthcare reform top of mind across the nation, the importance of a strategic approach to service line growth by healthcare executives and marketers has never been more important.
Service line marketing begins with recognizing a need, developing a strategy to meet that need, and ultimately delivering a beneficial service that ensures loyalty.
Create a valuable service for patients.
This strategy starts with understanding the competitive landscape, identifying a gap in your market, and developing bundled services that are either better or different than those of your competitors. Don’t be afraid to be bold about what sets your program apart.
In the case of University of Mississippi Medical Center, the cancer service line, later branded University Cancer Care, was identified as an area with opportunities for growth. University Cancer Care offered the full suite of services, world-class specialists, and strong outcomes. However, so did the two competing hospitals, which all stand within a three-mile radius of one another. Consumer perception studies identified that each hospital had their strong points across different key performance indicators – perception of physicians, nursing staff, patient experience, facilities, etc. University Cancer Care soared above others in its ratings for treatment of rare and unusual cancers. It is also a part the state’s only academic medical center where a multi-disciplinary team approach to treating cancer made them unique in the market.
Thus, a strategic healthcare marketing campaign was built around University Cancer Care’s differentiators. The campaign played to their strengths and lifted other areas where perceptions were low. It showed the value of the University Cancer Care approach to treating the patient and the disease.
Ultimately, this effort led to significant growth for University Cancer Care: a 21% rise in consumer preference compared to the leading competitor over the two years of the campaign.
Engage consumers with breakthrough creative advertising.
Research from a 2017 Nielsen Catalina Solutions study outlined here found that 49% of a brand’s sales lift can be attributed to the quality of the creative, 36% to media and 15% to brand attributes. The creative quality of service line advertising must be strong to invoke emotion and connection with your future patients and caregivers.
While it was long ago considered taboo to market healthcare services at all, the healthcare industry is now one of the top ten advertisers in the United States. Not surprising, two-thirds of those advertisers are pharmaceutical companies, but that still leaves a significant third, which includes advertising by healthcare systems, hospitals and clinics.
Healthcare ads are often easily recognized as featuring a physician’s face on a billboard or a patient testimonial video highlighting compassionate care. While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this sort of creative, to break through in a crowded market, the creative approach must be interesting, fresh, and even provocative at times.
In the case of UMMC Cancer Care outlined above, the marketing campaign My Life is Proof showed a pediatric cancer patient, Noah, in the “before and after” cancer state.
It was raw, emotional and compelling. It reached people on a different level than had previously been seen in the market. Not only did the campaign lead to noticeable results for University Cancer Care, but the imagery of the ad continues to be an inspiration for cancer patients throughout the world.
Deliver a beneficial service and build brand loyalty.
Central to a service line’s success is the patient experience. From the time a patient makes an appointment, to the greeting of the check-in personnel, the flow throughout the clinic visit or inpatient stay, each doctor and nurse with whom they interact, to the follow-up care and billing – every touch point matters. Building a streamlined, patient-centered approach to coordinated care requires a commitment by nearly every area of the healthcare entity. It’s imperative that physicians and staff have pride
in the service line and buy into the value they as member of the health care team bring. As such, healthcare marketing campaigns are far more effective when they’re integrated into the workplace.
Patients who have a good experience are loyal patients. Building a service line that consistently delivers on its brand promise will ensure patients return to you for episodes of care within the service line and across the organization.
Service line development and growth require an investment of time and resources organization-wide. Whether you’re looking to build business in the Oncology, Cardiovascular, Orthopedic, Weight Management or any other service line, it is critical to set your program apart, connect with your audience and deliver on your promises. It is a simple formula that has worked time and time again.
At Ramey, we believe that healthcare marketing needs to be held to the highest possible standard. We will be continuing this series about our approach to meeting goals across the issues that plague so many organizations, so make sure you are registered for our newsletter and check about more details at Ramey.com/health.
Contact Michelle Hill at MHill@Ramey.com with any questions or to learn more.