So this is Susan Lilly, recently “outed” on this blog as a breast cancer patient, and now, a survivor. My experience over the past year has given me some fresh insight into trends that we’ve been talking about here at Corrigan Partners, most notably the rise of the self-directed health care consumer.
After my diagnosis last spring (Stage 2, invasive ductal carcinoma), I pretty much created my own treatment path by assembling a disparate, but top-notch medical team. Why does this matter to health care marketers? Because I did this without the sway of traditional marketing messages. In fact, I decided to go out of area for part of my treatment because I found out about a unique surgical procedure from a top hospital’s online forum for breast cancer patients.
The irony is that the hospital’s discussion board was nothing fancy, but it was moderated by a nurse practitioner who counsels newly diagnosed breast cancer patients from all over the country. Yet, by suggesting the out-of-area hospital as a destination for a second opinion – and touting its unique approach to a common illness – she planted the seed in my mind to go out of area to have a look.
This is why the digital space can be so effective at growing the business. From the comfort of home, during a frightening time, people are searching for the best, most compassionate care after a serious diagnosis. They (we) do this by searching for answers online, and seeking others who are going through the same thing.
Looking for a digital welcome mat, really . . .
Hospitals, with their mission to serve and available resources, are perfectly positioned to put out such a welcome mat. Every single institution, from the rural community hospital to the academic medical center can set up such programs by building on their unique strengths in caregiving, and supplementing their internal resources with outside expertise – anything from marketing assistance to more technical matters.
The self-directed consumers are out there, and they’re looking for your help. Will they feel welcome when they find you?
Next post – a challenge to the oncology field, and how marketing can help.