Best practices for running an educational campaign
With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in effect, Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia wanted to find a new way to reach out to its members and educate them on healthcare and what the ACA really meant to them.
“The methods most businesses are choosing to communicate no longer work,” said Matt Gillin, CEO of Relay Network, the agency Independence Blue Cross hired to complete this task. He noted that direct mail has proven to be ineffective, that consumers receive too many e-mails and that text messages aren’t secure enough.
In response, Relay created IBX Wire, a private online communication channel similar to a private Twitter feed that was secure and personalized. When members received their health insurance card, a sticker on it directed them to dial a number to confirm the receipt of the card and to sign up for the channel.
“They’re now able to rise above the clutter to educate their user base about medicines, aftercare or a specific product,” Gillin said. So far, roughly 33% of Blue Cross’ members have signed up.
In general, an educational healthcare campaign isn’t supposed to promote a specific brand or compete against others. Instead, it should shed light on important and often complex topics.
Education initiatives have become much more important to the healthcare community as that community has placed more emphasis on preventive care. To that end, a successful campaign not only raises the level of awareness among the public and helps people make better decisions about their health, but it also drives healthcare costs down.
Best practices to run an educational campaign include:
Keep it simple. The healthcare field, of course, is highly specialized, but a successful educational campaign should avoid getting lost in technical language. At the same time, it shouldn’t be too vague. “Don’t assume your audience has the baseline knowledge about the issue or the technology or you’ll totally miss the mark,” said Ross Toohey, president at 2e Creative, which worked with Siemens Healthcare on its “Breast Cancer Density/Destiny” campaign for technology that can detect tumors earlier. “Your creative team has to be very cerebral, speak that language and translate it visually.”
Personalize your message. People will be most responsive to messages that speak directly to their experience. Independence Blue Cross’ IBX Wire is a strong example of delivering customized communication to customers based on their medical history and demographics. In Siemens’ cancer detection campaign, the personalization came in a different format: 2e Creative picked mostly volunteer women who had actually faced breast cancer to appear in the spot, making it much more relatable for viewers.
Make it actionable. Online surveys can help healthcare marketers understand whether the target audience digested the message, but the real goal is to produce an action—whether it’s changing someone’s health habits or prompting that person to make a checkup appointment. In the case of IBX Wire, Independence Blue Cross was able to track whether a short video about the importance of a flu shot was effective in several ways, including when patients gave their insurance card at a doctor’s office for receiving a shot.
Don’t be afraid to provoke. Unlike promotional campaigns, an educational campaign can be darker and more focused on the devastating consequences of poor healthcare decisions, including death in some cases. Such an approach may be especially appropriate if attempting to raise awareness about issues like smoking or texting while driving. “Sometimes, you need to show something more graphic,” said Cynthia McCafferty, senior vice president and senior partner at FleishmanHillard in St. Louis.
With such a sensitive subject as healthcare, the main advice is to make a campaign more human so people would start thinking about their health instead of avoiding the subject and delaying care that could save their lives.
“It’s really about taking a complex subject and boiling it down to a compelling narrative,” Toohey said.
The IBX Wire channel delivers secure
personal information to
Independence Blue Cross members.