Thinking Outside the Doc: Holistic Marketing Checklist

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Open empty box with a small red ladder coming out of it Frequently, we teach the value of micro planning—using precision, personalized online marketing means and methods that zero in on the single-person at a point of need. Increasingly, technology enables this fine level of timely, local and immediate messages.

But you also need to consider the macro view—the holistic perspective that doesn’t lose sight of the micro touches. Effective healthcare marketing is also a wide-angle endeavor for hospitals and medical groups. There are many buyer and influence personas to track. While the solo consumer profile is vital, “outside the doc” target audience thinking considers many others.

In other words, both the patient (ideal customer) and the provider (service line or care point) are primary considerations. But a comprehensive plan also includes additional players. Here’s a checklist of holistic tips to identify critical touchpoints—and useful marketing opportunities—in the patient decision process.

  • Map the patient journey. Allow for variations in the pathways from the patient’s initial need to after-care and follow-up. Is Internet research the first resource? Would this path be self-referred or a professional referral?
  • List the closely-held influencers. Friends and family top this list, but often include social network “friends,” opinion leaders, patient reviews and rating, and medical professionals. Which of these has the greatest impact or the most interaction?
  • Sketch the multiple personas. Begin with existing patient demographics, buying and behavior patterns, personal preferences, goals, etc. Provide as much detail as possible, listing the characteristics of each of your ideal customer. Likely there are several profiles.
  • Document your most active referral sources. Use recent and realistic tracking data to identify the inbound referral sources. These can include both patient- and professional referrals, as well as caregivers, case workers, paraprofessionals, and others. It’s vital to track and use actual source data and not “intuitive” or “guesswork” assumptions.
  • Document the patient’s entire care team. Here’s where it’s critical to think beyond the doc. Who are all the (many) others—in addition to general and specialist physicians—who are the care continuum? Each of these people—from clerical to medical professionals—are responsible for outcomes, the positive patient experience, and ultimately for referrals, reviews and reputation.
  • Draft the post-care and follow-up process. Who represents the patient’s interest in coordinated care? In addition to tabulating outcomes, track the stages and steps of after-care. Who connects with the patient following a resolution or discharge? The interaction here is often neglected. What are the steps in the follow-up process? Who is responsible and how is this documented? Is the patient referred back to a primary care doctor?

In each of these steps, assume the perspective of the patient to start. Initially, ignore the “traditional” and well-worn process steps. How can the needs and interests of the patient best be served by the holistic list of participants in their care journey? Thinking “outside the doc,” what is the most influential message to achieve the macro and micro marketing goals and objectives.


Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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