3 Location Marketing Lessons That Healthcare Brands Can Teach Other Industries

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You often see the healthcare industry singled out as a location marketing follower. When the location marketing experts discuss best practices, they focus on industries like retail. When healthcare systems get mentioned (if at all), you inevitably read comments such as, “Healthcare is still playing catch-up” or “Healthcare systems are getting better at local marketing because they are adopting retail best practices.” In fact, the healthcare industry can teach many other industries a lot about location marketing. Partly because healthcare faces constant turmoil, healthcare is a source of constant reinvention. Here are three lessons healthcare can teach other industries:

Creating a Great Human/Digital Interface
Integrating digital into the store remains a challenge for many retailers, but progressive healthcare organizations are doing so already. In San Francisco, a startup known as Forward provides personalized wellness care for a monthly subscription. Forward acts like a digital patient concierge. Patients sign in using a tablet at the reception desk and then walk into a body scanner that collects and reports each patient’s biometric data. Within seconds, Forward sends the data to physicians who provide on-the-spot wellness counseling using an interactive screen that shares wellness data in a highly visual format. Forward relies on artificial intelligence to collect smarter, more refined patient data and share it with physicians. Consequently, physicians can focus on providing patient services rather than managing records.

Forward is an example of how change creates opportunity. In healthcare, physician compensation is changing from rewarding providers for outcomes, which means physicians are incentivized to keep patients healthy. So medical providers have been pressured to figure out more effective ways to provide wellness care. Forward is an attractive model for providers to manage wellness visits in a more efficient, cost-effective way. But Forward also demonstrates that digital need not make the location experience impersonal — far from it. Forward relies on digital to create a warm, inviting environment, which businesses in many other industries struggle to do.

Maximizing the Value of Mobile
At a time when consumer mobile usage has outstripped the desktop, healthcare is getting better and better at managing the mobile experience to provide patient care. For example, Johns Hopkins Medical Center provides epilepsy patients Apple Watches embedded with a customized app to manage their condition. Patients use the wearable to track seizures and possible triggers and report seizures to loved ones. Johns Hopkins also relies on data collected from the app to better understand epilepsy and anticipate what might trigger seizures.

And Johns Hopkins is not the only healthcare system applying mobile technology. A growing number of healthcare providers are partnering with Apple to develop apps that physicians can use with iPhones and Apple Watches to treat patients. Another compelling example comes from Duke University, which has developed an app that works with an iPhone to screen children who are at risk for autism and anxiety disorders. Providers share with children short videos and track their responses in order to better understand the mental health of children and identify at-risk children.

These applications of mobile are integral to providing better care. Mobile can also make medical providers more efficient. For example, a software company known as Simplifeye helps medical practices improve administrative tasks by providing caregivers Apple Watches that store patient medical records and administrative details. Physicians rely on constantly updated information about the patients they are seeing, which reduces the number of times they need to stop what they are doing and consult with support staff for medical records. Simplifeye promises to improve workflow and reduce wasted effort in the doctor’s office.

Creating Better Digital Discovery
How often have you used a store or ATM locator from a retailer or bank and failed to find what you needed — or came across a location whose hours and address were wrong? Probably more often than you’d like. Healthcare systems are making major improvements to assist in patient discovery, especially by developing find-a-doctor directories that make it easier for patients to locate in-network physicians. Healthcare systems need to offer a find-a-doctor directory that relies on elegant, user-friendly search and drop-down menus for patients to narrow physicians using important filters such as specialties and insurance covered. Again, massive industry changes have been a catalyst for change. As high-deductible plans become the norm in healthcare, patients must be more selective when they seek care. Healthcare providers are responding by helping them through the discovery process.

My advice to anyone seeking to improve your location-based experience is this: look outside your industry for inspiration. Finding ideas from other industries forces you to think about your own differently. You get knocked out of your comfort zone and better understand the true state of the art, not just the best your industry has to offer. And you just might be surprised at what you find.

As CEO and founder of SIM Partners, Jon Schepke collaborates with his team to pioneer the future of digital marketing for national brands at a local level. The company’s Velocity technology is a SaaS-based local marketing automation platform that helps enterprise brands with multiple locations drive customer acquisition everywhere.