Hospitals Shift More Digital Dollars to Influencing Physicians

May 22, 2013
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hospital marketingHospital executives say they are increasing their digital marketing budgets to reach and influence doctors.

hospital marketingHospital executives say they are increasing their digital marketing budgets to reach and influence doctors. Close to 30 percent (on average, about $13,000) is aimed at physicians, and the balance targets consumers for the typical small hospital budget.

This data comes from an informative report available from UBM Medica US. Among the findings, hospitals—like other healthcare marketers—are anxious to reach physicians and they are trying more diverse tactics to reach physicians…despite a still-small overall budget for digital efforts.

The survey was primarily among hospital executives at community-centric institutions, not large, regional networks. For the community audience, “general awareness is the main marketing objective, and content for sites and SEO are the main digital tactics. Still, [community, independent hospitals] spend more on non-digital outreach and far less than others [pharma and agencies] trying to grab the hearts and minds of physicians.
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Local search is important to hospital outreach. Healthcare Success Co-Founder Stewart Gandolf spoke with the folks at UBM Medica. “Gandolf thinks most hospital marketers tend to underestimate the power of local search and how powerful pay-per-click ads can be.

“Local search engine optimization used to be hard, he recalls, because search was international in nature. But in the past three or four years ‘it has become wildly more local. Google does a better job of tracking where you are.”

“Small, local reach means simple digital tactics,” UBM Medica reports. 
”Small budgets may reflect the relatively small audiences hospitals need to reach, when it comes to physician marketing. Only so many physicians will refer patients to a given hospital, given geography and established loyalties. Survey respondents said there is only an average of 7,400 physicians in their marketplaces.

“Politically, it’s hard for hospital marketers to fight for dollars that could be spent on clinical upgrades, for example. Plus, he adds, ‘Most hospital marketing is aimed at branding… so [the return on investment] is not well understood by anyone but the marketing department.’ ”

What’s more, “hospitals feel outside experts do a better job at SEO and paid search than they can do themselves. Forty-six percent outsource paid search efforts but most handle social media and email in-house.
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