Customers. Not Patients.

As I talk to healthcare groups about the new world of healthcare marketing, I emphasize one point that’s sometimes well-received and that’s sometimes cast aside: The healthcare industry must stop thinking of terms of “patients” and need to start thinking in terms of “customers”.

These “customers” have choices: to participate in the treatment, go across the street to another healthcare provider, find alternative treatments, or not be treated at all. Healthcare marketing will influence the decision they make.

I was encouraged by this recent article in Wired magazine The article talks about a few hospitals “getting it” and taking notes from the hotel industry.

It’s a lesson that all businesses can take away. Even if you deal in a commodity that the consumer “has” to have, there’s a need for marketing. And marketing doesn’t necessarily mean more advertising and promotion. The best marketing you can do is to improve the customer experience. The dividends will come soon after that.

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