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Hospital Marketing Strategy Can’t Afford to Ignore This Patient Group

Willfull Endurers are self-sufficient patientsThere are thousands of unknowns in the future of American health care.

How will it be structured? Who will pay? How much will it cost?

But there are few unknowns more significant than the group of patients our team here at c2b solutions call the “Willful Endurers.”

They’re younger. They’re unattached. They’re independent. They skew male.

They’re Willful because they can appear almost stubborn in their attitudes. They’re Endurers because they can withstand anything life throws at them, and they wear it as a badge of honor. And they’re the segment of the population with whom your hospital most needs to communicate.

According to our healthcare market research, these Willful Endurers represent a staggering 27% of the potential healthcare-consuming public — the largest single segment of that group.

A segment hospitals and care providers can scarcely afford to ignore

Healthcare professionals are very familiar with the patient type we’ve named Willful Endurers. They know this segment is difficult to motivate. For the Willful Endurer, professional healthcare is an unnecessary expense — a thing for their parents and their grandparents.

This segment of the population is the least likely to visit a doctor, as this self-sufficient group will wait to seek professional care until they absolutely have to. However, when they get sick, they may have a difficult time pulling themselves through it without a lot of help.

These are patients you want to reach right now.

With the Affordable Care Act mandating that all Americans have health insurance, the large percentage of uninsureds in this segment will soon find themselves looking for a health plan and a care provider.

Make sure it’s your hospital group.

These are patients who, once they begin coming to your organization for care, will remain with you for many years to come.

Now is the time to strategize

While it’s critical that your organization reach out to this group now, the traditional hospital marketing strategies for healthcare communication are unlikely to resonate with a group that’s unlikely to visit a physician until they absolutely have to do so.

As with any group of patients, if you’re going to connect with them, you need to speak as they speak and think the way they do. With all the media noise surrounding the Affordable Care Act, your message must stand out from the crowd, especially with this group of people who are so determined to remain outside the mainstream. They have an inherent distrust of big or unfamiliar organizations, so how do you build goodwill with them?

They probably are not going to be as receptive to the traditional marketing avenues. They don’t sit through commercials or listen to radio broadcasts. They don’t read newspapers or respond to direct mail.

If you want to reach this segment, you’ll need to tailor your message to their unique motivations and engage them where they are familiar. 

They rely mostly on friends, family and coworkers for their healthcare information — peer influence is critical to a population skeptical of anything that is not “in their circle.” Their employer is also a source of credibility. While they may be suspicious of their employer’s motivations, there is a degree of loyalty here.

Consider all your options, then engage

Many Willful Endurers are young parents. So you can extend your reach by finding ways to connect with these patients at the places they frequent — shopping at children’s clothing stores or attending a back-to-school program aimed at young parents. 

They key is reaching them where they feel they are among others who are like them, with similar interests and experiences.

And when you do reach this group, talk to them about things that matter to them. For the most part, long-term care and extended illnesses aren’t issues that will resonate.  If they are managing an extended illness, they are only concerned with today, not the long term aspects of care.

What will interest them is how to navigate the Exchanges.

22% of Willful Endurers are uninsured, the leading segment without insurance. Given that they are also the largest segment, Willful Endurers represent a large population of patients in need of help.

Talk to them about the plans that use your hospital group. Explain how tax-credit subsidies can get them better care for a lower cost.

Remember, these are patients with short-term concerns. They aren’t planning 30 or 40 years out into the future, so they want to know how you can benefit them now.

This is a moment to be creative — to think young, to think aggressive and to be ambitious.

The important thing is to develop a well thought-out marketing strategy. You probably won’t see these patients in your hospital immediately. Perhaps you’ll have to wait until the second or third year of your marketing campaign to see them start trickling through your doors. 

Extremely loyal to brands that they trust, your hospital can only benefit from reaching out to Willful Endurers. And your message will be heard if you say the right things to the right people in the right places.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change

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