Integrating IT into Your Hospital’s Marketing Team

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Derek MabieBy Derek Mabie

The process of finding a solution has transitioned to the online realm. We research potential solutions to our needs. We explore the steps involved in a purchasing process. We compare options from the comfort of our couch. Patients are doing the same thing when it comes to seeking health care. Whether exploring the reputation of a prospective physician or reading about different treatment options, patients use available resources to find answers.

Traditional Roles of Marketing and IT

Search behavior permits health systems to connect with current and potential patients in a fiscally responsible way, but marketing can no longer rely on its own skill sets. 

Traditionally, marketing and IT have each been built on a single skill set or goal, generating silos of intelligence and expectations across an organization. Marketing would use patient data to drive growth. Information technology would provide administrative support.

The internet changed everything. With the increased emphasis on the gathering and application of Big Data, chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief information officers (CIO) should now collaborate to plan and reach organizational goals.

How Should Marketing and IT Work Together?

When marketing and IT remove barriers and collaborate, it creates a heterogeneous composition that reduces duplicate roles and advances a health care system’s efficiency. The traditional roles of driving revenue and improving the quality of care are still very much a part of Big Data application. What has changed is the increased involvement of the CIO in the organization’s strategic plan. 

Marketers who are motivated by revenue growth should lean on IT to identify and develop the tools and functionality necessary for attracting, interacting with, and ultimately supporting the patient. Then through an analytics dashboard, both divisions can understand patient insights.

When marketers not only have access to analytics, but are also trained in data application, they can routinely participate with IT in evaluating how the goals are being met and identifying which improvements must be made to meet expectations. 

Communication is a Necessary Focus

An open line of communication between these branches is crucial to make the most of the data received. 

For instance, convincing upper management that a mobile or responsive website is a necessary investment may require months of data that shows mobile traffic trending upward. When determining the effectiveness of a paid search campaign, however, it may only take a week or two to determine that a current landing page is or is not sufficient. Routinely opening communication between IT and marketing enables awareness and prioritization of steps required to achieve goals. 

Infusing Digital IQ into Traditional Roles

Digital IQ, an awareness of how technological improvements can help a health system accomplish goals, contributes toward a more meaningful online presence. A few ways current marketing roles must absorb IT assets include:

Copywriters should work with website designers and developers to improve site content. 

Marketing and Program Managers should dig into analytics to properly target and segment an audience before allocating marketing dollars.

Marketing Strategists should be consumed with using the website as a tool for generating leads online and aligning department projects with the business goals.  

Investing in Tools and Talent

With business and behavior moving to the online realm, health systems can gather and measure success with the right tools. Analytics validate efficiency and spend of marketing, while a customer relations tool (CRM) aids with patient referrals and retention. 

Is Your Team Capable of Improving Outcomes?

It becomes necessary to evaluate the qualifications of current team members and decide whether or not an organization is honestly capable of fulfilling expectations. The U.S. News article, The Evolution of Health Care Continues, addresses how hospitals can meet gaps in Digital IQ. “You can’t hire or promote based on seniority anymore,” says Rita Bowen, senior vice president of health information management (HIM) and privacy officer at HealthPort. “Someone needs to understand how information is used.” Realistically, many health care systems struggle to understand how to overlay new standards of competence on old roles. 

For a hospital to reach its business goals in a data-driven world, there must be an evident integration of information technology into its additional teams, strategy, and business goals.