A decade ago, Jennings developed its first online patient support community – NCCancerStories.org – a virtual gathering place where patients and prospective patients could connect and share their experiences.
Since then, we’ve developed dozens of online communities in a variety of forms, including hospital sponsored blogs, social networks and freestanding communities. We’ve dedicated ourselves to developing HIPAA compliant communities where patients, family members and healthcare consumers can visit and gather credible health information, share their stories, interact with others facing similar circumstances, access health resources, learn about hospital services and engage clinicians.
Jennings’ partnership with Hive Strategies and CareHubs brings the healthcare industry easy access to affordable, HIPAA-compliant online patient support communities. The proprietary online platform used by the partners was developed by CareHubs and is the leading private-label, online patient engagement platform available today. Together, Jennings, Hive Strategies and CareHubs provide the full continuum of expertise required to plan, build and successfully manage online patient support communities.
There’s a philosophy behind our push for using online communities for consumer engagement: given the changes in the healthcare environment and in consumer behavior, online communities just make sense strategically.
At Jennings, we’ve recognized that this is a new day. The world has changed and healthcare marketing has not kept pace. Today, consumers make the rules. They decide what information they engage, on what platform, at what time, and on what type of screen.
To capture attention, communication needs to have real value and meet the need for entertainment, information and community. By community, we refer specifically to the desire to commune with others who share interests and/or experiences. And while other industries have readily adopted the idea of online community building, hospitals and healthcare systems have been slow to recognize the opportunity to use these platforms to engage the connected consumer and ePatient.
Simply put, we can no longer deluge consumers with advertising and marketing messages and hope to connect. We can’t continue to put vast amounts of resources and time into promoting service lines and medical procedures via one-way communication. We have to involve consumers in ongoing conversations about health, wellness, prevention and lifestyle modifications. The way we’re doing that is in a community setting.
Online community building is one of our most important initiatives at Jennings. It’s the “what’s next” in healthcare marketing. We believe that one of the most important roles within healthcare marketing is to be a builder, manager and facilitator of these online communities.
We look to online community development as a foundational element of any engagement strategy – and build communities of shared interest where patients share their stories, ask questions, access health information and interact with others facing similar health challenges.
And while we strongly believe in measuring and reporting R.O.I. for our clients, we believe even more strongly that we should be focusing on “Return On Community.” That is, you make an investment in community and you will realize a return on your investment – in the form of improved health outcomes for patients and in the overall health of the community.
On a clinical level, healthier communities will mean less of a financial burden due to a decrease in the prevalence of chronic disease and improvements in disease management. On a brand level, investment in community should lead consumers to have a deeper relationship with the sponsoring healthcare organization, leading to brand preference and advocacy. Finally, involvement in a hospital or health system-sponsored online community that addresses a specific chronic condition or health topic will provide the sponsor with an opportunity to introduce the consumer to its physicians, programs or health resources.
Below are examples of online communities we’ve built or are in the process of building.