How Not to Market Your Healthcare Service, Part 1

She was perfectly professional and polite.

The woman in charge of scheduling patient appointments for a major clinic nearby was my access point to a doctor. She probably didn’t realize that she was a critical brand ambassador, and from how the call proceeded, “Big Health System A” hadn’t trained her as such.

I hadn’t seen a doctor in quite awhile, so I called this nearby clinic to see if I could come meet with one of their physicians. I asked if they had evening or weekend hours. “No,” she replied. “We’re a normal doctor’s office.”

“OK, thanks. Bye.” Thud. This isn’t 1972 or even 2002. The normal doctor’s office is dead.

“Big Health System B” had a clinic in my neighborhood, and it was open two evenings per week and every second Saturday. And it was staffed with internists and family practice doctors, as opposed to “mid-level providers” found at most convenient care centers.

It was no contest. In the battle for my business, the “normal doctor’s office” struck out. It was a complete brand breakdown on every front. Even though “Big Health System A” had a chief brand officer. What went wrong in this age of health care consumerism?

  • Their hours were for the convenience of their staff.
  • Their front line employees taking calls clearly hadn’t been trained in what to convey about their clinic. Does any health system want its clinics’ message to be, “we’re a normal doctor’s office”?
  • It was five months before I could get a scheduled appointment. Yes, five months.

Normal is beyond dead. And health care providers that move at their customary glacial pace will soon be seen at a museum near you.

Across industries, sales and distribution take place on the customer’s mobile device. That’s already the doctor’s office of today for a large and growing percentage of patients. Health care is no longer about delivering at the “point of care.” It’s on the customer’s terms, at the point of need and convenience.

Every customer touch point is a moment of truth for a health care brand. It’s no longer about your doctors. It’s about your customer’s experience. Zoom figured that out more than a decade ago. So has everyone else in digital health and delivery innovation who’s working at the fringes to strategically migrate into the lucrative business where you currently sit back, open your doors at 9 a.m. and let money blow in until 5:00.