Healthcare marketing can be hard. But if it was simple, then everyone would be doing it. Producing an effective healthcare marketing plan shouldn’t be too difficult. But for many people, it can become a real challenge.

A health care professional who already uses marketing wants to improve and grow their practice, but the resources needed to do this are scarcer than ever. The practice may already have a number of resources, but your competitors have increased what they can offer patients. And then there are hospital advertising and marketing budgets that need to be split between a number of departments and (sometimes competing) interests.

How Can the Lean Principles Work in a Healthcare Organization?

Lean is designed to help get rid of waste while increasing value to customers. Waste is any process that reduces value to a client, or the client doesn’t think it has any value.

The Lean methodology identifies these wastes:

  • Inventory
  • Transportation
  • Waiting
  • Motion
  • Over-processing
  • Overproduction
  • Defects

The Lean methodology is usually associated with the manufacturing industry, but healthcare organizations and hospitals can use it to reduce or eliminate waste. Some of the areas that could be improved through these practices include:

  • Medical errors
  • Billing
  • Providing staff with the correct equipment to serve patients and stakeholders
  • Reducing the waiting times in offices and emergency departments

Many hospitals and healthcare organizations are now using this methodology to improve patient care and achieve more with less. Click here to learn more about lean principles in health care.

How do Lean Principles Improve Health Care?

There are a number of ways in which the Lean principles can help improve the healthcare industry including:

  • Reducing patient waiting times – this is one of the main complaints of patients accessing health care organizations or hospitals. Lean methods look at how we can reduce the amount of time people spend waiting – for example, by delivering test results through technology instead of a member of staff collecting them.
  • Manage inventory – having too much stock can lead to issues with storage, expiration dates for medicines and increased overhead costs. Technology could be used to keep track of supplies that are used regularly and order them accordingly.
  • Decrease defects – one of the best ways to reduce defects is to change to an information system that is technology-based. Doctors will be able to keep track of their patient records without having to rely on a patient’s memory.
  • Reduce overproduction – overproduction in healthcare includes providing higher levels of care than needed, ordering unnecessary tests, higher level doctors performing tests that less qualified (and cheaper) staff could perform.
  • Limit movement – movement identifies how information, inventory and staff move between different departments. Rooms that have the correct supplies and equipment on hand will reduce the amount of movement and time needed.
  • Reduce costs – all of the principles above will help reduce costs in the healthcare industry. You can also apply the lean principles to your marketing and advertising efforts.

The annual budget in healthcare settings and hospitals often challenges people to do more with less. Lean principles can help improve your marketing budget and plan in a number of different ways. Below are some of the best tips to help you create a lean and mean marketing budget and plan:

1. Work Out What Your Goals and Objectives Are

You need to work out what your marketing and advertising priorities are. Work out which priorities are the most current and likely to affect your bottom line. Sort them into actionable, specific and measurable numbers. Don’t just follow your competitors; you need to stand out. You need to focus on ensuring you get a positive return on your investment.

2. Know What Counts and Play to Your Strengths

Marketing efforts that don’t have enough money spent on them often fail. Find out what tactics don’t work in your marketing plan and change them. Concentrate resources that can be measured and quantified and where the impact is at its peak. It’s better to focus on a small number of amazing marketing ideas rather than attempt a large number of mediocre ideas and not spend enough money on them.

3. Times Change and You Need to Too

The tide of patient consumerism, healthcare reforms, hospitals acquiring practices, and many other changes mean that you need to constantly examine the marketplace, the target audience and the competition. Your marketing efforts need to change and leverage meaningful market trends while recognizing and avoiding fads that will pass.

4. Outsource if Needed

Most businesses assume that they will save money by doing everything themselves, but this isn’t always the case. In many cases, getting professional advice and help for a short period of time during a project is usually the most time-efficient and cost-effective solution.

5. Training is Important

The main objective of all healthcare marketing endeavors is to increase custom. Therefore, it’s extremely important that individuals within each department understand and support the plans and have the tools and knowledge in order to achieve them. A marketing budget that doesn’t include training is incomplete and won’t help convert opportunity into revenue. Improving employee knowledge and training will help to increase overall performance.

6. Changes May Need to Be Made

Nobody can produce a perfect plan or budget. It’s hard to anticipate everything that will or could happen. Opportunities often present themselves suddenly, and disaster often occurs without any warning. It’s always advisable to budget in a way that allows for changes to be made in case unforeseen circumstances occur.

7. Budget Annually, but Analyze and Alter the Budget Monthly

It’s important to produce an annual budget, but you need to make sure that you continually review what’s working well and what could be improved. It’s advisable to schedule a time (at least once a month) to analyze your marketing efforts and how effective each part of the budget and marketing has been. Spend any additional money on areas that are working well, and re-think, change, re-design or get rid of parts that are underperforming.

Marketing is important in all business in order to attract customers. Marketing in a healthcare organization or hospital can be extremely tricky, particularly when you only have a small budget to follow. Follow some of these top tips above to create a lean and mean marketing budget for your healthcare organization.