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5 Healthcare Personalization Marketing Strategies to Save Time, Money, and Lives

A doctor in a hospital goes over a treatment plan with a female patient / healthcare personalization strategies
Personalization gives your patients better care faster and it creates less of an administrative and scheduling load, too. [Sturti / Getty Images]

From improving efficiency to preventing trips to the emergency room, personalization is healthcare marketing’s surefire remedy.

All marketers are under pressure to reduce costs and drive revenue, but healthcare marketers have the extra pressure of dealing with life or death. How do they balance those business demands while also keeping patients’ and members’ well-being as their top priority? Making sure that personalization is a core focus of healthcare marketing strategies.

It’s a tough job, but new technologies are paving the way for stronger communications that benefit both the company and the people who need care.

Let’s look at 5 ways a personalized healthcare marketing strategy can help keep patients and members engaged and informed — from acquisition to coordination.

New service line strategies at your fingertips

Learn more about how marketers at Ochsner Health and Memorial Hermann are using data and AI to personalize engagements and save money.

Strategy 1: Service line optimization creates efficiency for all

Service line optimization is a strategy that allows healthcare providers to identify the correct department for their patients. For example, does your patient need emergency room care or just an orthopedist? Figuring this out efficiently guarantees the best care and cuts down on administrative time and costs.

In traditional marketing terms, service line optimization is the healthcare version of multi-channel engagement and journey optimization. It’s reaching patients across different channels with personalized messaging to get them into the service line that can help them the best – and then guides them toward the correct lines for their follow-up care and any other medical needs. 

In practice, it could turn a single primary care visit for an injury into a lifelong relationship with an orthopedist, a physical therapist, and a mental health specialist. It’s better for the provider, keeping the patient within the health system, and it’s better for the patient because they have low-friction access to all the care they need. 

Let’s look at a real-world example. Ochsner Health is the largest healthcare system in Louisiana with more than 40 hospitals and 4,500 physicians. For years, Ochsner was using postal service mailings to reach their patients. They wanted to innovate and work faster.

Ochsner began using Salesforce Marketing Cloud to unite all their data sources, from web to diagnosis history to records of how a given patient prefers to engage with their provider. This gives them a “patient-centric” view of their customers, allowing them to more efficiently guide patients into the ideal service line. 

Now instead of one general mailer, they send out more than 70 personalized email campaigns per day, each speaking to the specific needs of individual patients. They’ve seen a 10% increase year-over-year in CRM-driven appointments and a 34% year-over-year increase in CRM-based revenue.

“Building personalized patient journeys was a game-changer not just for us as providers, but for our patients, too,” said Kylie Worley, Marketing Supervisor at Ochsner. “By using the data we already collect from our patients in the course of providing care, we were able to show them that we really do listen, and that’s led to increases across virtually every relevant metric, both in terms of our own ROI and patient experience.” 

Key takeaway for healthcare marketers: Personalizing your healthcare marketing strategies gives your patients better care faster and it creates less of an administrative and scheduling load, too. 

Strategy 2: Personalized outreach gets patients to show up for appointments 

Something to keep in mind as you build your healthcare marketing strategies: Appointment adherence is one of the largest headaches for healthcare providers – 18% of patients no-show for appointments. This costs providers more than $150B annually. Many patients also attend their appointments but don’t do the necessary preparation, rendering the visit useless. 

Most patients don’t want to miss their appointments. According to Salesforce’s Connected Healthcare Consumer Report, 88% of patients want personalized appointment reminders but only 28% receive them.

Memorial Hermann is a leading not-for-profit healthcare provider in Texas. For years, they sent joint replacement patients a 44-page guidebook, along with videos, handouts, quizzes, and emails. They were trying to help their patients be prepared for their joint replacement surgery and follow-up appointments, but the approach was too general and intimidating.

Memorial Hermann now uses Salesforce Marketing Cloud to build new, personalized patient journeys. Instead of that monstrous guidebook and 30 videos to watch, a surgery patient’s journey starts with a personalized checklist to prepare for the procedure. 

A welcome email is sent 45 days before their appointment, a pre-appointment testing reminder is sent a few weeks before the surgery date, a surgery prep email nine days before, a home prep email six days before, and one last reminder three days before the surgery. 

The journey doesn’t end with the surgery itself. Afterward, the patient gets an email with recovery tips and another with what to expect three days after that. All these communications are short, practical, and relevant, helping the patients way more than any 44-page tome was ever going to.

“Improving the consumer journey from paper to digital was huge for our service line, but most importantly, it helped our patients understand what to expect better and our nurses and admin staff be better equipped to meet care outcomes,” said Lucky Rai, VP of Digital Channel Experiences of Memorial Hermann.

“Fewer missed touchpoints with patients in preparation for surgery or needed follow-up after surgery leads to a trickle-down effect where nursing and admin can spend less time putting out fires and more time providing a higher level of personalized care.”

Key takeaway for healthcare marketers: Make it as easy as possible to help your patients make their appointments. Reach out to your patients by engaging them with personalized outreach across multiple channels. 

Strategy 3: A complete customer view is the key to Medicare providers and payers retaining their customers 

Finding Medicare coverage is an extremely cumbersome task for people approaching retirement. Too many payers offer the same generic outreach or bury their potential customers in mostly irrelevant information. Even more thoughtful payers can struggle with cutting through the noise of so many competing (and similar) offerings. 

The good news is 1:1 personalization is helping healthcare payers (insurance companies, for example) build relationships with their members to retain them into their golden years. 

Examples include providing plan recommendations based on their medical history and sending updated recommendations if they move to a different primary care provider – and even sending proactive messages as the customer approaches the eligible age.

Key takeaway for healthcare marketers: Every member counts! Get proactive with your healthcare marketing strategies and engage with members across all their favorite channels. You can have personalized marketing offers and watch as they get and stay connected with you. 

Strategy 4: Personalization leads to increased member satisfaction – and better Medicare star ratings

Medicare star ratings rate payers’ Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans. A five-star rating is a massive difference-maker in the eyes of the average customer who might not know much about the specifics of different Medicare plans but does know a five-star rating means the best of the best.

Maintaining a high rating requires a year-round effort to drive better member experiences. That means healthcare marketers need to understand the whole view of the member, anticipate their health needs, and drive better health outcomes.

Personalization is the key to this. Nothing fatigues a member faster than burying them in irrelevant messaging (or, as they call it: spam). According to our State of the Connected Customer report, nearly two-thirds of modern customers in any industry expect companies to adapt experiences to their changing needs and expectations. This is even more crucial in healthcare and insurance, where patients and members have significant personal stakes in the product and its outcomes.

Key takeaway for healthcare marketers: When you take advantage of your customer data and AI personalization to guarantee every message a member sees is relevant and specific, you’re meeting their expectations and solving their problems. These are two of the main drivers of satisfaction – and a higher star rating.

Strategy 5: Understand high-risk patients to save lives (and money)

Long-term treatment plans and emergency care are some of the most expensive line items for payers. Preventative care greatly reduces those costs by keeping members healthier (and out of the emergency department). 

The challenge lies in incentivizing high-risk members to seek preventative care and take advantage of those benefits. Payers want to help their members avoid emergency room visits, but knowing who’s at the highest risk for such a visit – and how to help them – is easier said than done.

Real-time personalization helps reach high-risk members. By building a customer data platform to combine claim and demographic data, risk-based segmentation, and engagement histories, payers can get an accurate idea of which members are at the greatest risk for an ER visit at any given time. 

From there, contextual engagement and personalized messaging encourages those members to take advantage of the preventative benefits that can save them from serious risks or complications. It’s a win-win for payer and patient alike, saving the payer the cost of an ER visit and the patient the stress and medical consequences of a worsening condition.

Key takeaway for healthcare marketers: You can’t keep patients from getting sick or hurt, but you can proactively connect them to care options before issues escalate to urgent levels. 

Start personalizing your healthcare marketing strategies

What do all these examples have in common? Trusted data and AI-powered personalization. A strong understanding of the patient allows you to anticipate their needs and exceed their expectations. It spares them from irrelevant messaging or information overload, and guides them toward the smoothest solution for their needs.

This is a win for patients, providers, and payers alike, and that sort of “everybody benefits” approach represents the brightest possible future for healthcare marketers.

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Jay Wilder
Jay Wilder VP, Product Marketing

Jay and his team empower Salesforce customers to make every moment count with Marketing Cloud’s industry-leading data, AI, and activation innovations. With nearly two decades of experience, Jay has led teams and brought products related to customer data, personalization, engagement, and analytics to market to make marketing more personal, relevant, and impactful. He’s a musician, avid reader, sports fan, and lifelong enthusiast for traveling to new destinations.

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