When Looking For The Right Answers, Try Looking For The Questions

Over the course of work days, weeks, months and years, it’s easy for health care marketers to lose direct contact with their primary audience: patients. There are, of course, people in your organization whose job it is to stay in constant contact with these people. Maintaining a system to stay connected with these colleagues can provide a win-win for marketing departments looking for great content and for patients who are trying to navigate their own healthcare needs.

I was reminded of this recently when the topic of health care came up among me, my wife and some houseguests. Among the group were a recent survivor of breast cancer, a patient with a chronic disease and a mother of two. There was a lot of talk about medications, diseases, alternative therapies and reasons one might follow a doctor from one practice to another.

There was also talk about things like online health records, the nature of various medical partnerships and understanding and managing billing procedures. Complicated topics to be sure. This got me thinking about the wealth of information medical marketers could aggregate and disseminate about these very vital areas of modern medical care.

So often, complex organizations make marketing decisions based on what “messaging” they want to convey. That’s fine, and there’s definitely a need for that. But as more of us are more thoroughly connected, there’s a growing need for more answers to questions that can be presented in simple language, and posted in places that people can actually find quickly.

Touchpoint check-ins

Every day, every health organization is charged with answering questions from its customers. (For example, “Why do I not pay a co-pay at the time of visits but receive a bill in the mail later?”) And every day, many of those questions are asked repeatedly, on the phone. However, it can be very difficult to find those questions answered in a searchable format online.

These questions are asked and answered by a wide range of people within an organization, and it should be the responsibility of the marketing department to have a direct connection to those people on the front lines of customer interaction.

By keeping a frequent dialogue with receptionists, people in the billing department and others, marketing teams can compile a treasure trove of frequently asked questions. Most can be answered quickly.

Marketing help for customer service

Other questions and answers, however, might be better handled by the unique resources available in the marketing department. This occurred to me when a guest was trying to explain the complicated nature of her primary care provider’s partnership with the hospital that heads up her cancer treatments. If ever an infographic could come in handy, this would be the time.

Obviously, there are some pieces of information an organization understandably would not want to share online with everyone. However, the nature of its relationships with other organizations should be one of those times. Patients have a lot to deal with between their appointment, medications, insurance and more, so spending mental energy on how your organization works and how that relates to them should be made as clear and easy to understand as possible.

Posting answers where people are looking

So you’ve done it! You’ve talked to the right people and have oodles of questions that they’ve been asked and you’ve worked with them to create written answers to those questions. Now what?

It’s time to start getting those answers out into the world.

With each question / answer combo, ask yourself, “Where would people be looking for this piece of information?” If it’s parking-related, could it be added to your Google Maps listing? If there are a lot of items, could they make their way into a Twitter editorial calendar? If there are multiple infographics that explain your organization, could they be added to Slideshare?

Do these questions/answers exist on places like Quora or GetSatisfaction? Note that I haven’t even mentioned your main company site or your blog yet. Obviously, these are good choices, too, but as more and more people search for answers in places where they search for everything else, too, it’s a good practice to keep these spaces top of mind.

Tags: health
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