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How Healthcare Marketers Are Engaging With Patients in a Digital Age

Imagine this: You wake up. You check your sleep pattern on your watch. You eat your breakfast. You track your calories on your phone. You walk to work. How many steps was that? You grab a coffee on the way. You ordered ahead on the coffee shop’s app. A latte with almond milk – your favorite. You check the calendar on your phone. You have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. You go to work. You check your emails. You step into a couple of meetings. You take notes on your laptop. You head out for your doctor’s appointment. It’s your first one with this doctor. Your doctor’s appointment goes well. The waiting room was clean. The nurses are friendly. Your doctor is helpful and answers all of your questions.

Now, you choose your own adventure.

Adventure A
Your doctor’s office has a tablet at the check-out desk. They ask you to rate your experience with emoticons. You pick the smiliest one – you loved your new doctor. You get a text message the next day asking you to fill out a brief survey about your experience. It says your anonymous review might be posted online. You’re also asked if you want to sign up for emails to receive healthy tips & tricks from your new doctor and other physicians in their network. These emails remind you how much you loved your new doctor, so you sign up. You tell your friends at work about the great new doctor you found. You go on with your life – checking your steps on your watch, ordering coffee from an app, going to work, checking your emails. You receive an email in a couple of weeks asking you to set up an account within their online portal. From there, you choose your primary care physician and browse specialists. You need to book another appointment. You go to their website.

Adventure B
You leave the doctor’s office. You go to the check out desk. They hand you a small paper with your next appointment date on it. You put it in your pocket. The paper goes through the washing machine the next day. Oops. You’ll call and ask for the date again. But you’ll do that later. You go on with your life. You receive a postcard in the mail a week later inviting you to visit their website and browse for primary care physicians. You set it on the kitchen counter. Three weeks go by. The postcard becomes buried in a pile with other mail you told yourself you’d look at later. You throw the whole pile away. It’s all junk mail, anyways.


In today’s world, incorporating digital communications into the patient experience is no longer a “nice to have,” for healthcare providers. It’s a must.

Today’s patients are more empowered than ever to manage their healthcare via digital channels. With seemingly endless options for apps, websites, video chatting, and digital devices, patients are now able to connect with healthcare professionals and monitor their own health at the touch of a button.

With these advancements in healthcare also comes the immense opportunity for healthcare providers to better connect with their patients and provide a more personalized experience – something patients nowadays not only prefer, they demand.

Leading healthcare organizations are innovating their patient experience leveraging marketing technology such as email and SMS journeys, online reputation management and scheduling tools, artificial intelligence and 3rd party data, and social media to connect with their patients at every touchpoint.

However, many healthcare marketers are operating within complex healthcare systems, disparate data systems, and are unsure of how to leverage digital marketing tactics while staying HIPAA-compliant. These hurdles can sometimes seem insurmountable, leaving healthcare marketers to continue relying on more “traditional” methods of engaging with their patients.

Because of the hurdles many healthcare marketers see with digital tactics, healthcare organizations often allocate minimal budget to invest in elevating their digital experience. However, the healthcare organizations that are adequately investing in digital are seeing an ROI of tenfold – with many Lev customers experiencing results such as:

  • Reducing patient attrition by nearly 8k patients per month.
  • A 50% reduction in spend on direct mail.
  • A 25% decrease in missed appointments.

Leading healthcare providers are leaving the days of disparate data and direct mail behind them, and leveraging tools such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud to integrate with 3rd party systems and automate imperative communications with their patients – ensuring their patients are receiving the right messages at the right times.

Forward-thinking providers are relying on cohesive and integrated digital experiences to become a core part of their overall patient experience.

By engaging with new patients and ensuring they set up their online portal accounts and choose primary care physicians, providers are able to reduce patient attrition, and ultimately – build patient loyalty.

Leading providers understand the value in engaging patients throughout their entire lifecycle, and want to be a comprehensive health partner their patients.

Providers are in the early stages of embracing these marketing philosophies, but have endless opportunities to make a big impact. By investing in the right tools and strategies to capture, interpret and act on patient data, providers can optimize the ways in which they acquire, engage, and retain their patients. Those providers that can get it right stand to earn a truly loyal patient – one that looks to a provider first, avoids seeking care outside of a provider network, and becomes a brand advocate for the provider. When Lev works with our customers to design and execute effective patient journeys, we look not only within the healthcare vertical for best practices, but also to industries such as retail, CPG, travel & hospitality and entertainment for ideas and new ways to create patient engagement and loyalty. It’s not only healthcare where personalization and digital engagement are demanded; it’s everywhere.

Overall, healthcare providers have significant potential to leverage digital communication tools to open and improve engagement with their patients and key stakeholders. Although risks exist, the benefits that come with more intentional, targeted, and personalized communications make adoption crucial to provider growth. The ways in which patient data and digital tools can improve the overall experience means the question for providers is no longer “should we?” but “how should we?” Platforms such as Salesforce, enhanced by expert consultants like Lev, can help providers fully understand what is possible, and what makes sense for them.

If you want to learn more about how healthcare providers are leveraging Salesforce Marketing Cloud to innovate the patient experience in the digital world and how you can transform your patient experience, contact us for more information.