Develop a community-building mindset for effective healthcare marketing

If you’re a healthcare marketer who is still spewing one-way communication with radio, TV, newspaper and direct mail advertising, it’s time to shift gears and develop a community-building mindset. 

That’s the main message from Jennings CEO Dan Dunlop. 

“Healthcare marketing is facing a crisis of relevance,” says Dunlop. “The world of marketing is being transformed by the adoption of new digital platforms and technologies. Yet, most healthcare organizations continue to market as they always have.”

Much healthcare marketing holds little relevance for patients today

He goes on to say that “the traditional model of healthcare marketing, where we primarily push content in the direction of the consumer, is not sustainable. It’s short on value and holds little relevance for patients and consumers.”

Instead, says Dunlop, “we should look to online community development as a foundational element of any engagement strategy. We need to build niche online communities of shared interest, organized around specific topics, conditions or diseases, that our patients can join and where they can interact with others facing similar health challenges.”


Great advice for any health systems looking to strengthen relationships with patients and their families. 


Upcoming webinar: A vision of healthcare marketing as online community building

One of my favorite presenters is Dan Dunlop, president of Jennings.

I acknowledge my prejudice, since Dan and I partner in this wonderful work of developing online communities for patients. But it is true. Dan is warm and personable and informative and just plain smart with great stories to tell. I love to hear him talk about healthcare.

That’s why I’m excited to announce an upcoming webinar. Dan will present “A Vision of Healthcare Marketing as Online Community Building” on January 28, at 1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST. I’ll play the stress-free role of Dan’s webinar host! Read more

Look before you leap: 5 things you must know before you launch an online patient community                  

Yesterday I presented a webinar with Dan Dunlop, my partner at Jennings, packed with practical steps you should take before you launch an online patient community.

In the webinar I covered:

  • the critical research you must complete before you launch your community. 
  • the biggest mistake most new communities make — and how to avoid it. 
  • how to tell if your stakeholders are really on board.
  • the importance of gaining buy-in from both executives and clinical staff.

Dan did a great job setting the stage by presenting his thoughts on the changing face of healthcare marketing and why Return on Community is a more important concept than Return on Investment.

Bonus: Download Dan’s e-book The Value of Return on Community.

The webinar takes just 35 minutes. Watch it here, and let us know what you think. In the webinar I offer the useful research PDF document 20 Essential Questions to Ask Potential Members of Your Online Patient Community. You can download that here as well. 


Why are Hospitals Slow to Develop Online Patient Support Communities?

Jennings Principal Dan Dunlop, has written an insightful article that addresses the question: Why are hospitals slow to develop online patient support communities?

In Dan’s article, Paul Speyser of CareHubs identifies three key factors:

  • CEOs and other healthcare executives are already stretched thin by changes in the healthcare industry and therefore reluctant to add any new initiatives
  • Fears that these communities would be prohibitively expensive.
  • Concern and misunderstanding surrounding privacy and HIPAA.

Inspite of these concerns, Dan outlines some compelling benefits to participating in online patient support communities. 

It’s a good read.

The article, titled The Connected Patient: Information Currency in Online Communities, was published in eHealth Strategy and Trends. You can download a PDF of the article here.

photo credit Flickr: Redbraz

Study: The striking difference between managed and unmanaged online patient communities

Our partner Dan Dunlop at Jennings posts a fascinating study on the difference between managed and unmanaged online communities. 

It’s the story of two online communities, launched within seven months of each other. These communities are sponsored by hospitals located in the same region of the country, only 49 miles apart.

One of the online communities has been actively nurtured and monitored daily by a dedicated community manager, while the second community was left to operate on its own. The result?

The community that was actively managed has experience nearly three times the volume of visitors and has become a great asset for its hospital sponsor. The other community has languished and is barely clinging to life.

This is definitely a cautionary tale! To read the full story, read A Tale of Two Online Communities