Medical providers have a very unique set of needs when it comes to effective digital marketing.
In many cases, the medical providers themselves need to understand and meet a significant list of potential obstacles before handing over further development to their chosen professionals. For example, many medical providers neglect to ask the appropriate questions that directly relate to their goals & expectations. In fact, many simply can't define their goals and without goal definition, expectations will end up being far to elastic. At this point, only luck will ever bring together performance with a strategically developed marketing plan.
As a digital marketing professional, I work with many different medical providers. One of the first conversations we have revolves around the need to establish tangible goals. One of the realities that makes this understanding even more important is the unique limitations that most medical providers have to deal with on a regular basis. These limitations or regulations (HIPAA) can significantly affect the goal development process. This is why taking the time and working with a professional to create realistic goals is a good idea and in some cases, necessary. Many times, there are very obvious business goals that have to be approached differently because these regulations simply demand it.
One of the more prevalent situations that reflect this quandary is determining what, if any HIPAA regulations affect the marketing process. In more than a few of the medical practices my teams support, they haven't yet understood how to identify what constitutes a "patient" in digital marketing terms. If they collect an individual's name through their online marketing efforts, when is that individual considered a "patient" should they become one 3 months down the road and as a direct or indirect result of their marketing campaigns? Because it's the "patient" record that is at the heart of many HIPAA regulations, it's critical to know when a contact or lead is technically considered a "patient".
In many cases the software or applications used within a digital marketing system can answer these questions. Think about all the different technologies or applications might be used to support a comprehensive digital marketing solution. The more of these components that start out with HIPAA compliant designations, the more of these dilemmas can quickly be avoided from the start. Reaching realistics goals is difficult enough so recognizing those systems and/or professionals that can help the medical provider recognize potential pitfalls becomes an important first step.
The piece of advice I normally discuss with a medical professional at the beginning might seem fairly simply but as many of my digital marketing colleagues will confirm, it is never safe to assume a client (or prospective client) understands anything, no matter how simple it may seem. Digital marketing vs. traditional marketing. There have been many bottlenecks my teams could have avoided simply by explaining to a client the differences between digital marketing strategies and their already existing traditional marketing strategies. It is quite natural or easy for an organization to develop a new digital marketing strategy without considering the problems that exist or ongoing tasks of its current marketing efforts. After all, they have their finger on the pulse of the advertising and sales campaigns for years so starting up a digital strategy need not affect what is already working, right? Not right. Not only do these two different strategies need to work together, both marketing strategies need to work in support of the sales activities.
To wrap up this line of thinking, it is important to take the time needed at the start of developing any marketing strategy to recognize these realities and consider all the variables of these different but dependent systems. As a medical provider, ask your marketing agency or professional how your new digital strategies affect the mailers or magazine advertising campaigns you have in place. How can the events you hold experience more success through the use of your digital resources. How can your online campaigns generate and provide new leads to your sales team and so forth. The more these three components are closely aligned, the more effective and efficient your overall marketing efforts will be.