While COVID-19 affected every sector of the healthcare industry, it had a unique impact on hospice organizations. Holly Vossel noted in Hospice News that “as facilities and patients closed their doors to minimize risk of exposure, declining accessibility to both referral sources and patient families has negatively impacted hospice admissions and led to drops in revenues.”
While that is turning around, hospice providers are still experiencing increased competition, which is causing them to rethink their operations. This is leading many providers to adopt new technologies as a way to automate their sales and marketing practices.
The challenge is that hospice marketing requires empathy and human connection, while automated processes are often viewed as impersonal. But they don’t have to be..
In this article, we’ll look at two ways you, as a hospice provider, can use automation to support and even increase the empathy in your communications with patients and their loved ones, as well as some best practices for writing automated messages that don’t sound automated.
Two ways automation supports hospice marketing
Follow up with leads immediately, no matter when they come in
People who search for hospice providers, either for themselves or their loved ones, don’t typically have a lot of time. If they’re caregivers, they may only be able to contact providers at night or on weekends, and to get their business, providers need to be available.
Shelley Cartwright, CEO of Apex Hospice, put it this way: “Hospice services must respond rapidly, adopting new ways of working as resources. It is truly that simple; being available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without hours or days of delay…”
With automation, you can follow up with all leads immediately, no matter when they come in. Even just a simple automated email that lets a lead know you’ve received their request and tells them when someone will call them back can make a big difference to their peace of mind and help you earn their business.
Send timely content to prospects and their loved ones
Cartwright noted that hospice providers need to work as resources. This means providing the information that prospects and their loved ones need to make good decisions about end-of-life care, as well as information about what to expect before, during, and even after hospice services.
With marketing automation software, you can set up drip email campaigns to send this information to the right people and the right time.
Here are a few examples:
- You can have landing pages on your website where people can download information about making end-of-life decisions and the benefits of hospice care.
- If you provide at-home hospice services, you can use marketing automation to send family caregivers resources to help them care for their loved ones, as well as themselves, during this difficult time.
Best practices for writing automated communications
Automated messages don’t have to feel impersonal. Here are a couple of best practices you can use to increase the humanness of your communications:
- Segment your audience and deliver customized content. When using forms for your website, be sure to collect enough information to give you a sense of every lead that comes in. Is the person inquiring for themselves or for someone else? What kind of care is required and when does it need to start? Once you have this information, you can develop templates to customize the way you communicate with each type of lead as well as the content you send to them.
- Write for an audience of one. You’ve heard the phrase “If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one.” Whether you’re writing a text message, an email, or a social media post, picture a specific person and write the message just for them.
- Personalize communications as much as possible. Most marketing automation programs allow you to use personalization tokens to customize emails for each recipient. Go beyond just adjusting the name in the greeting. For example, you can insert loved ones’ names or the name of the facility where the prospect lives. Be creative about this — you might find you can personalize quite a few elements using custom fields.
- Be human. This sounds obvious, but when people write marketing emails, they tend to revert to marketing-speak. Avoid doing this! If you write automated communications in the same tone and style as you would personal communications, the recipient might not even know they’re automated.
There are many advantages of using technology in hospice care, from automating communications to capturing referrals and improving CAHPS scores. To learn more about our solutions, visit our Hospice & Palliative Care page.