Top 3 Problems with Healthcare Organizations’ Content Strategies

June 10, 2018

Virtually all healthcare leaders recognize the value of content creation, yet the use of a well-defined content strategy is rare. Here’s how to get yours.

Today, many healthcare companies are treating content strategy as an afterthought, instead creating loads of content-an archive of disconnected messages without strategic business purpose. When working with healthcare companies, we often discover different functional teams creating their own content in silos. This leads to disjointed messages and inconsistent experiences across websites, events, pitch materials, social channels, and traditional advertising.  Others have struggled to realize or identify the impact of the resources they dedicate to content. Content has become a primary growth driver in many industries, and healthcare organizations are looking to harness their content to accomplish their brand and business goals. 

As healthcare companies revisit their content strategies, we see them struggle with the following three issues: 

  • Lack of strategic vision.

Most healthcare organizations today are creating content.  A lot of it. But content creation doesn’t equal strategy. And while content goes well beyond social media, all it takes a quick scan of your social feeds to spot symptoms. Does it range from recipes to health plans to blockchain trends?  If so, you might be lacking a well-defined strategy, grounded in audience needs. Based on Altimeter research, the best content strategies typically fall into one of five archetypes. Novo Nordisk is a great example of using one of the archetypes, Content as Community, using passions and lifestyle content as a way to connect diabetes patients and professionals with shared interests. The value it gets from these efforts is that customers see the brand as a real member of the community. A common vision ensures that content produced across the company takes a unified approach to meeting brand and business needs

  2.  Lack of test-and-learn culture.
Ongoing measurement and optimization of content is a challenge across nearly all industries. This challenge is compounded for healthcare companies due to leaner marketing budgets and a cultural aversion to rolling out a pilot and adjusting as you grow. The practice of medicine requires leaders to rigorously test and prove new ideas, formats, and channels when it comes to engaging and treating patients. Similarly, healthcare companies need to test new messages, channels, and formats to best engage audiences with their content. When it comes to creating great content, these organizations need to embrace the modern digital practice of launching a ‘minimal-viable-product’ and use in-market performance to refine and optimize it. Oscar Health continues to be a leader in driving relevance through its content, and is constantly learning and refining their marketing, messaging and platforms. Moreover, your current customer experience management (CEM) platform-whatever system you’re already using to create and measure your content – is designed to help you optimize it.  A clear understanding of performance goals paired with the right CEM platform helps iterate and optimize content to ensure it’s getting the results outlined by your content strategy vision.

  3.  Lack of dedicated governance.
Most organizations don’t have a central content-creation team. Nor should it. Healthcare companies need content created by an array of experts for patients, healthcare professionals, B2B audiences, investors, etc. and an operating model to efficiently and effectively create and distribute it.  However, as you layer-in sub-groupings of those content creators a proliferation of uncoordinated content emerges, meaning some audiences may be experiencing your company and brand in a variety of disjointed-or worse-conflicting, ways. Governance becomes very important for large, complex organizations, ensuring there is a balance of strategic consistency and appropriate adaptation to drive relevance with a specific audience. Prophet helped Encompass Health with their content strategy and governance, and you can see it come to life on its homepage with consistent, yet audience-aligned content for investors, job seekers, patients, and healthcare professionals. Formalizing and centralizing content governance can drive internal efficiencies & and enhance content performance for healthcare companies.

Virtually all healthcare leaders recognize the value of content creation, yet the use of a well-defined content strategy is rare. A content strategy is building the “why, what, and how” to deploy content to contribute to an improved experience.  It’s critical to delivering your brand strategy, delivering experiences customers value, and driving growth by attracting and retaining more customers. 

And would this work in helping “their content woes”? 

The first step any organization can immediately take in creating a winning strategy is to know your customer. The primary questions to answer before moving to the next step are “Who is your customer?” and “What are their biggest pain points?” Then you’ll need to gain an understanding of their content consumption behaviors and preferences in terms of format, device, timing such as:

  • Where do they go to get the information that will solve their problems?
  • Who is influencing them?
  • What content formats do they prefer?

These questions will help determine the “who” and the “what” of the content vision, and organizations often recognize immediate adjustments they can make to their existing content efforts. 

Paul Schrimpf is a partner in Prophet's Chicago office, developing and implementing marketing, brand and customer experience strategies that are rooted in deep consumer insights and analytics. He is also a leader in Prophet’s healthcare practice, working with providers, payers and pharmaceutical companies.

Nicolle D'Onofrio is an engagement manager in Prophet's digital discipline transforming customer experiences and optimizing enterprises with digital tools, and ways of working. She has worked across industries and in healthcare has specifically focused on working with pharmaceutical companies.