While working on a health care account, we conducted research on how people choose a health care provider or hospital. We found that when it comes to their health, consumers consider several factors and take the time to ensure they are making a good choice.

For starters, convenience is only a factor after consumers determine that the health institution they are considering is a good fit for them. Otherwise, they don’t mind traveling far.

Other considerations include:

  • Has the health care provider or hospital had success with the consumer’s specific condition?
  • Do they have a successful track record?
  • What are their range of services?
  • Do they have the top doctors in their field?
  • What is their reputation?
  • What insurance do they accept?
  • How modern and clean are the facilities?

SpadeaPatients also listen to advice and recommendations from their physician and will often try to experience the facilities firsthand before making a decision.

Consumer reports show that a variety of even more factors come into play here, including patient experience, patient outcome, hospital practices, safety scores and adverse events in surgical procedures.

Notice I haven’t mentioned marketing yet.

Does marketing make a difference? The short answer is yes. We have always wondered why so much of hospital advertising lacks facts about who they are, their quality of care and their facilities. This actually would work better and resonate with consumers more than featuring patient stories in ads.

As the agency of record for a Medicare Advantage plan for more than eight years, we saw firsthand how important it was to educate potential customers with advertising that provided facts about the health plan. (Again, when it comes to health care consumers are willing to do the research to ensure they are making the right choice.)

In campaign after campaign, we featured benefits and highlighted the quality of plans, the hospital’s accessibility and the choice of doctors available. The results were tremendous. When we began work with Medicare Advantage, they had 6,000 members; they had 36,000 members by the time the company was sold for more than $400 million dollars just a few years later.

The end result was clear. When it’s time to select a hospital or a health plan, people don’t choose based on convenience, or because it’s pretty or they have a friend who works there. They choose the option that offers quality of care, a solid track record and the top specialists and doctors. And marketing can make a difference.