What Women Want From Hospital Marketing

An understanding of how women choose hospitals can help shape your marketing messages.

Consumers are shopping for healthcare in ways they previously haven’t. Thanks to the proliferation of sites like www.Healthgrades.com, www.ClearHealthCosts.com, www.PatientsLikeMe.com and more, patients are finally getting windows into cost, quality of care and patient experience, metrics that greatly influence their choice of hospitals and healthcare providers.

Before we look at what women want in marketing from hospitals, it’s important to examine how they choose them.

Women often choose hospitals based on what their insurance includes, which is unfortunately not under our control. Gallup has listed other important metrics patients consider when choosing a hospital as well. Those include the hospital’s expertise, its history of medical errors, and the patient’s doctor’s referral or order. These are areas where marketing messages can have some sway.

Healthgrades published data that shows positive care outcomes are the top priority when choosing a healthcare provider. Updated technology and modern facilities, which many hospitals tout in their marketing, show up in the bottom four variables, much lower than metrics like doctors’ experience and patient satisfaction ratings.

The Journal of Patient Safety published a study that showed 97 percent of all consumers prioritize hospital safety rankings over cost. Notably, higher incomes, higher health literacy and being female correlated with a stronger preference for hospital safety over cost.

So, knowing the criteria women are using to choose a hospital, what do women want to see in hospital marketing? It’s actually quite simple.

  • Women want messaging that answers their questions around patient outcomes, safety, doctor quality and expertise.
  • Information on costs compared to other hospitals is always useful.
  • Testimonials about patient experiences go a long way toward making women feel they can trust a hospital with their care or the care of someone they love.
  • They appreciate information about the treatment they can expect.
  • Women want messaging that prioritizes personalized, holistic care.

What they don’t want:

  • Anything that stereotypes them. Remember when The Milk Board tried to market milk to men as a solution to women’s PMS symptoms? Just in case that needs to be spelled out, they learned it was a bad idea to stereotype women as irrational and to mock them for going through symptoms of a miserable female experience — especially as a way to sell a product to men.
  • To be spoken down to. Women already know they’re strong, independent and capable. They don’t need marketing messages to tell them this. If you’re using language like this simply to sell a product or service, they’ll see right through it.
  • Unnecessary or pointless gendering, such as silhouettes of purses and stilettos on an ad for a women’s health screening service. Don’t “shrink and pink it.”
Kathy Selker
I’m Kathy Selker. My work as managing director of Stratos and previously as CEO of Northlich, has taught me a great deal about how hospitals and health systems can best connect with women to make the most positive impact in their lives.
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