Social Distancing Shifts Hospices Toward Digital Marketing

Hospices are using virtual communication to support the health of their businesses as well as the health of their patients during the ongoing pandemic. In a time of social distancing and sheltering-in-place, providers have had to up their games when it comes to digital marketing. 

Traditional hospice marketing has largely relied on methods such as face-to-face sales calls with referral partners, including nursing homes, hospitals and physicians’ offices. During the COVID-19 outbreak, nursing homes and hospitals nationwide have severely restricted access to their facilities, often disrupting hospices’ marketing efforts. Hospice clinicians have even had difficulty accessing patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 

“Staying on our referral partners’ radar, marketing liaisons for hospice agencies are in that community. We are face-to-face. We are feet on the street. We live in our cars. We were in agencies; we’re in assisted living facilities,” said Kelly Anderson, administrator for Louisiana-based Canon Hospice Northshore in a Net Health webinar. “We’re going to hospitals, seeing our case managers, visiting our physicians, doing lunches. We can’t do this face to face anymore; we have to do this from a distance. I think you really have to think outside of the box.”

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Many hospices are turning to social media to promote their brands.

Social media offers marketing opportunities that few businesses can afford to underestimate or ignore, particularly as the tech savvy millennial generation are increasingly engaged in purchasing, health care and end-of-life care decisions. The average person spends more than six hours hours online every day, according to a report released in January.

Using the internet and social media offer hospice organizations a way to: centralize communications, discover more cost effective ways to drive revenue, build a company knowledge base, collaborate more effectively, leverage staff and customers in new ways, drive traffic and increase leads and enhance recruiting efforts, a 2007 study indicated.

“My social media presence has upped its game a lot. We’ve had to use Facebook, and we’re actually doing some podcasts now. That was not it was always something that was on our radar. I feel like this crisis has put a fire under our feet to do those things kind of similar to telehealth,” podcast last said. “But now we need to do this.”

The Canon Hospice Northshore podcasts cover topics such as general information about COVID-19, infection prevention and control and strategies for dealing with mental health concerns that arise due to isolation. The podcasts are posted to the organization’s Facebook page. The hospice also did a virtual tour for its soon-to-open inpatient unit. 

Hospices have also adapted some of their more traditional methods to comply with social distancing recommendations.

“We’re also mailing out care packages [to nursing homes and assisted living facilities]. In the past, you’re going to hand out all of your items, your hats or your pens or whatever you’re going to do,” Anderson said. “We’re putting those together as packages and we’re either mailing them or leaving them with the front desk so that they can pass them out.”

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