The Importance of a Connected Hospital

July 9, 2018 Michael Johnston and Natalie Scarella

“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it’s not open” Frank Zappa 

OK, we know it’s hard to listen to someone who names their child Moonbeam but go with us on this for a few minutes and we think you will understand our concept… 

In May, we were lucky enough to help curate a healthcare marketing summit at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Hospital marketing and philanthropy teams from across Southern California gathered to explore the concept of the connected hospital and to learn why healthcare organizations should foster connectivity. It was a chance to have an open conversation on the technological, social, demographic, and marketplace changes coming fast and furious to the healthcare sector – and apply them to the healthcare marketing space.

Some of our main takeaways and areas for your consideration are: 

1. The connected hospital is completely designed around patients and their preferences. While it’s not uncommon to hear stories of siloed hospital marketing and foundation teams, we do come across the benefits of these teams working together. Sharing consumer data can help both marketing and foundation teams learn more about key consumers, and enables both teams to develop cohesive strategies for patient and donor acquisition, using prescriptive and predictive analytics. With cohesive campaigns and brand strategies, the connected hospital can increase patient engagement and maximize support. 

2. Artificial intelligence is not something out of a Terminator Movie! It’s clear in many fields of endeavour – from defence to retail to energy to healthcare – the rise of immense computing power is on the verge of changing much of what humans do. We were lucky enough to listen to the ‘two Nathans’ at City of Hope, who shared how they’ve jumped right into what they properly call ‘machine learning’ and have begun to create machine learning applications to create what they call predictive philanthropy. There’s no doubt that we’ve created a problem in the social impact marketing space – lists. Big lists of lots of supporters who may or may not have the potential to give much more. Traditionally, we’ve done data audits or analysis that are handed over to our staff. The analysis lays out giving potential that is dated from the moment it’s received. For City of Hope – and other organizations that are exploring the predictive philanthropy that comes from machine learning – they will have an ever-learning partner to give them new predictive opportunities that they can act upon (e.g. visit/call). It’s a big new world with machine learning, , so let’s jump in together. 

3. Mobile Phones are our intimate partners in life. It’s a sad but powerful reality that the powerful computing machines in our hands influence so much of who we are and what we do – and it’s growingly important in philanthropy and in healthcare. For some Scandinavian countries, over 50% of all healthcare consultations (e.g. biometric readings) are done through someone’s mobile phone – not in a doctor’s office. And did you know that when you go to sleep at night and leave your phone on to charge, marketing organizations are using the stillness of your phone for multiple hours to tell them where you live and apply marketing techniques with that information. This may now make you turn your phone off at night but it should also remind you that healthcare marketers need to open their minds to the powerful opportunities that the mobile phone gives us to our healthcare consumers and donors. 

4. Healthcare brands are now performance brands. It’s not just NIKE or Adidas or an NBA team that project brands that make the hair on the back of your neck stand out. For healthcare institutions to stand out – to find new patients or to find new donors – they’re changing how they are talking to their market about themselves. They’re not asking people to give or sign up, they are asking them to join a movement.  

5. Personalization is key as consumerism plays a larger role in healthcare. Many trends are driving big data in healthcare – evolving payment models, emerging healthcare technologies, and care delivery improvements – to name a few. The resulting landscape of consumerism is a powerful force, and now healthcare providers need to compete for consumers. These consumers are smart, mobile, and savvy. Healthcare organizations must efficiently use big data to embrace consumerism, enhance patient relationships, and drive sophisticated intelligence into patient acquisition. They must also provide unrivaled insights into the vast array of social determinants to assist in population health strategies.  Implementing healthcare consumer analytics solutions gives a personalized, comprehensive view of the targeted consumers, making the marketing reach more effective. On the consumer side, predictive and prescriptive analytics can give the who/where/why to segment and target key groups that fit an organization’s unique profile, makeup and service lines. On the patient side, big data can uncover the socioeconomic factors that contribute to 80% of a patient’s overall health, as well as give insight on how or when to contact them and what messaging to use. On the fundraising side, data can be used to predict which donors and prospects are likely to give and how much. This connectivity helps complete the healthcare lifecycle of consumer to patient to donor.  

6. Design Thinking is here to stay. The commercial sector quickly applied the discipline and thoroughness of CX Design Thinking to their customer’s journeys. Places like the Stanford Design School’s approaches to journey mapping were adopted by companies like Oracle and Microsoft and this ‘structured empathy’ approach make incredible improvements to the customer journey. It’s only now that this approach is being adopted by the healthcare marketing sector to improve patient journeys and supporter journeys. We’re five years behind and it’s time to catch up! 

These key concepts were covered in our webinar Introduction: The Connected Hospital.” Watch the recording and become that parachute for your healthcare institution! 

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