Marketing service lines through storytelling

Once upon a time

When the marketing team is brainstorming about how to promote hospital service lines, a key component of that is to load up on patient stories.  Even though people get online to do research, what they really want after any diagnosis is to know they are not alone.   That is why the successful patient testimonial is so powerful.

Obviously, hospitals don’t want to violate HIPAA laws by disclosing information while patients are being treated.  But people can tell their own health care story anytime (in fact, they already do).  In other words, the story comes from the patient, not the hospital.  But these experiences – with permission, of course — can be highlighted on the hospital’s social media sites, and patient testimonials (formal or less so) should be a prominent feature of any hospital’s online presence.

For example, with more oncology practices becoming part of the hospital clinic, a logical way to highlight the skills of oncologists is to relate the ever-growing number of stories of triumphs over cancer, large and small.  This also provides a benefit to the clinicians who don’t have the resources to market their services.  Consider these cases: the woman who beats back a recurrence of cervical cancer; or, the retired man who has overcome prostate cancer .  These stories inspire others, improve collaborative relations with physicians, and build your hospital’s brand.

Speaking of personal stories, I’ve just passed my own 2-year mark of receiving the dreaded diagnosis of breast cancer.  Karen originally wrote about this in Oct. 2011, and I wrote a follow up about the self-directed health consumer.  Since it’s such a widely-known side effect of chemotherapy, I thought I would share a photo history of my hair (!) which I lost during treatment, and is now back and as unruly as it’s ever been.  One small triumph illustrating the body’s ability to heal – that’s a compelling patient story, yes?

susan-hair

Photos, L to R:

1) My hairstyle before chemotherapy; 2) I’m “over the hump” with infusions, but note the loss of eyelashes and eyebrows (they come back quickly!); 3) I dressed as Sinead O’Connor for Halloween (2 months after last infusion); 4) our holiday card and 5) my current hairstyle.   I’m patiently trying to grow it out, although curls are a new hair challenge for me!

1 Comment

Filed under Healthcare Marketing, Oncology Marketing

One response to “Marketing service lines through storytelling

  1. I recently heard a speaker refer to patients becoming “micro-experts” about their disease. As health care marketers, we need to remember that these testimonials not only can convey patient experience of the disease, but also can often speak to the science of the disease as well.

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