Nick Ragone

As healthcare transitions to become more consumer driven and digitally focused, healthcare organizations need to change how they market, communicate and deliver care. That’s the message of Nick Ragone, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Ascension, in a guest commentary for Modern Healthcare.

“Consumers now have instant access to information about their choices, which has heightened expectations about what a seamless, end-to-end healthcare experience looks and feels like,” he says. “And it has intensified the need for true direct-to-consumer marketing to win these consumers at every point of engagement.”

Nick says healthcare marketing is about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time, and then measuring the result. This is a change from traditional healthcare marketing, which uses tools such as broadcast advertising, billboards and sponsorships to raise awareness.

“Healthcare marketing is no longer about qualitative awareness, but rather it’s about quantitative, targeted tactics and prescriptive modeling,” Nick says. “For large, integrated systems such as Ascension, it means doing grass-roots research and consumer behavior and language testing so that we can fully understand the populations we serve and anticipate their needs before they even enter our doors. It also means having a strong, accessible brand that consumers trust and find convenient and connected.”

But more than targeting messages to consumers when they’re looking for healthcare, digital technology needs to be engaged throughout an individual’s healthcare journey, he says.

“We must also be committed to more-accessible, more-convenient and more-seamless care delivery. We need to make it easier for consumers to navigate our sites of care, both physically and online, and with mobile devices,” Nick says. “This is no longer a nice to-do; it’s a must-do.”

That means putting consumers at the center of both healthcare marketing and service delivery.

“As an organization, we have begun to readjust our marketing and clinical focus to see our hospitals through the consumer lens,” he says. “Consumers are no longer peripheral to the equation; they are the equation. Consumers have begun taking their encounters in other industries and applying them to healthcare. This is a new approach that we wouldn’t have considered a few years ago, but we’re evolving in response to the dynamic needs of consumers today.”

Click here for the full column on Modern Healthcare. A log-in or subscription may be required.