Don’t feel snubbed. The vast majority of patients don’t really want hospice care from anybody. To them, it’s an admission that they’re dying. And it’s only human to resist that outcome, even though it’s inevitable for us all. (“Do not go gentle into that good night…rage against the dying of the light,” as poet Dylan Thomas famously wrote.)
That’s why marketing hospice care is immensely different than marketing the rest of the entire spectrum of your other services.
Your other healthcare system services offer treatments and cures to fix what ails the patient, or to better diagnose the problem for more effective treatment. Your other services offer the hope of relief, the hope of better quality and quantity life. That’s the kind of care patients crave. That’s the kind of care that appeals to their very instincts of survival.
Most patients don’t understand that hospice care also offers better quality and quantity of life as well as relief from symptoms. Hospice care offers a different kind of hope – the hope to reach life goals before the end, the hope to see that new grandchild, attend that special person’s wedding, the hope of saying goodbye with dignity.
Without that understanding, patients don’t want hospice care. So trying to market hospice care the same way you market curative care doesn’t work. It’s not just another health system service line, another specialty, another department.
Ernesto Lopez, administrator of Hospice of the Comforter (Altamonte, FL near Orlando), agrees. Hospice of the Comforter became part of the Florida Hospital family in 2014, and Mr. Lopez has considerable experience in promoting both curative care and hospice care.
“Marketing hospice care is very different than marketing hospital services,” Mr. Lopez said.
“Hospitals in the Orlando area tend to use a lot of billboards and radio for awareness of a brand and its services. With hospice, marketing tends to be more effective if it educates consumers over time, creates value with that education and works to build relationships. In fact, several hospice providers in the area have stopped using the word ‘hospice’ in their advertising to consumers. They talk more about providing ‘home services’ rather than end-of-life care.”
As Mr. Lopez implies, it’s wise to promote valuable information and assistance that lead to your hospice care. Share education and insights for coping with a chronic serious illness at home – beyond your hospital walls. Market your willingness to help patients and families understand their options and navigate your healthcare system as well as their insurance coverage (providing, of course, you have the staff members to do so.)
Helping patients and families understand that the services related to your hospice program meet their exact needs and wishes will guide them to accepting the actual hospice care.
How do we know these things? Transcend Hospice Marketing Group has interviewed more than 10,000 family healthcare decision makers about perceptions, knowledge and preferences regarding end-of-life care. We have many other insights that can help you successfully market hospice care – and palliative care, if you offer it. Let us know if we can help you better promote your hospice services. Because it’s not like marketing any of the other services in your continuum.