Healthcare Marketers: Expand Your Reach with Online Videos

In our last blog post, we discussed the importance of giving patients what they want to see on your healthcare provider website. As you plan your content strategies, think about the rapidly growing reach of online videos. They’re an effective way to build your brand by engaging your audience.

Check out these related insights from a health consumer study by Google and OTX:

  • One in three people (32 percent) watch health videos online. That outranks the number of people watching videos about food, celebrities, beauty and fashion, sports and many other content categories.
  • More than half (54 percent) of patients want information on specific conditions when they watch health videos online. Additionally, 49 percent express interest in videos featuring experts, e.g. physicians (like these videos we helped create to introduce the doctors of Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s affiliated OB-GYN practice).
  • Four in 10 patients (43 percent) say they used a search engine for more information on health topics featured in online videos. Many took further action as well: 21 percent signed up for a health-related newsletter, 12 percent clicked on an ad, 10-16 percent recommended a website or forwarded a video link to someone, while another 7 percent shared a video via chat or blog. When you look at it this way, it’s easy to see how online videos make a very effective ‘gateway’ touch point between your organization and the people you want to reach.

In addition to being easy and relatively inexpensive to distribute, online videos excite and resonate with people who prefer to learn by watching (roughly two-thirds of the population). For your audience, videos are more closely linked to a storytelling experience than text on a screen, which makes video a more engaging and memorable medium by its very nature. Videos also offer a great deal of flexibility when it comes to production and execution:

  • They can be made on any budget. If spending is an issue, consider using a flipcam in a quiet work space with an attractive backdrop and good lighting. Feature your physicians speaking naturally (albeit from a well-prepared script) to deliver a clear, concise message with minimal post-production editing.
  • They can be repurposed for a variety of applications. Think outside your website and YouTube – your video content could be integrated into a webinar, included in e-newsletters, featured on your facebook page, displayed on tabletops at recruitment fairs and more.
  • They make very compelling online ads. If your budget allows it, go beyond educational videos and into the advertising arena. Video ad spending is projected to increase by 40 percent this year alone. Public service announcement videos are also effective at building brands by reaching out to people in meaningful ways – like this PSA we produced for Saint Luke’s Muriel I. Kauffman Women’s Heart Center, an oldie but goodie that moved the dial on heart awareness among Kansas City women.

If you’re new to video content creation and optimization, contact us for some useful tips. Then start planning – and producing – to establish new connections using online videos.

Healthcare Marketing Has Real Life Impact

It’s easy to get wrapped up in ROI and profit-building strategies. After all, as healthcare marketers, that’s what we’re hired to do. We drive growth. We build brands. And when we do, we often save lives.

Every day I wake up thinking about the consequences of our work. If you’re the chief executive at a healthcare organization, you and I have that in common. In healthcare, we know far more is at stake than the bottom line. Real people are affected by what we do and say about your brand.

Just one short post may have been the most important thing I did the other day. I read a forum chat between two men who had testicular cancer—one a survivor and the other a young man searching for information about the best doctors, treatments and cancer centers. Armed with knowledge and confidence in the medical care at Indiana University, I inserted myself into the conversation and posted a recommendation. I connected the young man to an oncologist and researcher I was fortunate to meet in 2006 – the same physician who saved Lance Armstrong’s life a decade earlier.

Just a personal story?  Not really. In many ways, this is what we do for our clients every day. We convince patients, patients-to-be, physicians, suppliers, manufacturers and healthcare organizations of all kinds to make better, more informed choices. We convince people to choose our clients’ brands. We encourage people to make connections that save lives. These are the consequences of healthcare marketing.

Here’s what I mean:

When we promote cardiac care, we say the heart center can reliably and consistently open blocked arteries in notably less than the 90-minute national standard.  As our clients know, we won’t execute a single ad until we absolutely, positively know the promise can be delivered. When we produce white papers, webinars and campaigns to convince pathology labs and blood banks to adopt new patient safety technologies, we know that patients can benefit. We also know failure to do so can have devastating consequences.

I could go on and on with examples like these, but the real bottom line is this: everyone deserves to make informed decisions about healthcare. That’s why Dobies Healthcare Group exists, and it’s why we are so passionate about everything we do for our clients. As a healthcare CEO, you deserve a marketing partner like us – experts who know how to drive new patient volume, sales, and market share, and who wake up every morning thinking about the consequences of what we do for your brand.

The Internet Says I Have WHAT?!

We’ve all done it:

We suffer from a sniffle that lasts a bit longer than usual and we’re off to a search engine to self-diagnose our mystery illness. Depending on the search results (and our levels of persistence and paranoia), either we are comforted that we’ve simply contracted the common cold…or we’re convinced that we’ve developed a CSF leak and the fluid that surrounds our brain is escaping through our nose!

Those of us who believe the second diagnosis are likely falling victim to cyberchondria:

“… the unfounded escalation of concerns about common symptomatology, based on the review of search results and literature on the Web.”

And as health content on the Web continues to grow, we risk becoming cyberchondriacs with every Google or Bing search query.

To help curb cases of cyberchondria, some believe it is the responsibility of the search engines to provide results the public can trust. While I agree the search engines play a role, I believe the solution begins with healthcare marketers and Web writers. We have the responsibility to work with physicians, nurses and other medical professionals to produce complete, accurate and understandable information for the search engines to deliver to the online community. Studies show this kind of quality information is not always available for certain conditions, which leads medical experts to warn against relying too much on the Internet for education.

Ultimately, however, it falls to healthcare consumers to do their part.  While it is important to be vigilant advocates for our health and make an effort to educate ourselves, we must be prudent in our research, both online and off, and remember to balance our findings with the first-hand opinions of medical professionals.

Social Networks Providing Health Info, Support

Earlier this year, I showed how online engagement after the earthquake in Haiti helped prove that people are using social media to connect with others in meaningful ways. Today, I bring you yet another example, this time in relation to healthcare.

A new study reports that 40% of online consumers are turning to social media for health information. And they’re not just talking about medical conditions, diagnoses, treatments and news. The study found the primary reason for using social media was emotional:

“…many healthcare social media users want reassurance, support, and a sense of intimacy from people who are going through a similar experience.”

But according to a recent New York Times article and Pew Research report, this won’t come as a surprise to the many Americans affected by chronic illnesses. Over the last few years, social networking has become a lifeline for many who are living with a chronic disease or life-changing condition. By blogging, chatting and engaging with others on social networking sites like PatientsLikeMe, Diabetic Connect and CureTogether, they are able to share advice, war stories and empathy with others in similar situations. Best of all, this can all happen from the comfort of home, a great advantage for those whose illness has left them homebound.

As social media continues to grow, look for more hospitals and physician practices to better connect with patients (and ultimately improve the patient experience) by complementing their informational web content with virtual support groups and online forums.

How’s Your Heart?

A few years ago, I worked on an ad campaign that educated women about heart disease. During this process, I met some great women with incredible survival stories. It was an eye-opening experience for me, and it inspired me to become an advocate. Now, I tell everyone and anyone who will listen about heart disease in women because it’s very important to become proactive in your heart health rather than reactive.

The statistics of heart disease are staggering! Nearly twice as many women die from heart disease and stroke than from all forms of cancer combined, including breast cancer. Why? Because most women ignore the signs or don’t know what signs to look for. The symptoms of heart disease are very different for women than they are for men. Many women don’t have the crushing chest pain like you see in the movies. Instead, women may have nausea, back pain or even heartburn.

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