By Erin Minsart, Vice President Strategic Services
For most of us working at, or supporting, organizations in rural healthcare, 2020 has been an unpredictable year to say the least because of COVID-19. Despite the struggles of dealing with the ever-changing world around us, there is an important lesson to be learned from these last nine months. That lesson is, we need to push our best laid plans aside, pivot and adapt in order to thrive.
And how can we thrive right now in rural healthcare, particularly with the marketing used to target and speak to our patients? The answer is by reaching out and connecting with the people around us even with social distancing and other COVID-19 safety regulations in place.
Before COVID-19, making those connections was relatively easy; yet now, we need to adapt and get creative with our marketing. That’s where storytelling comes into play.
Use storytelling to build relationships
As humans, we all have our own goals, hopes and dreams. We live our lives trying to achieve them, leading to experiences and stories that we want to share with others. Sometimes, these stories will inspire and resonate when they’re shared, helping to form common bonds, shape ideas, and build trust.
In short, to have and to tell stories is what really brings us all together. By harnessing the power of storytelling, you have a simple, yet highly effective way to personally connect with someone.
Why embrace storytelling now?
With the continued emphasis on social distancing and how it’s vital in preventing the spread of COVID-19, people are looking for personal connections they can rely on. Through storytelling, rural healthcare organizations can create a personal, reliable connection with people and patients, showing the organization is:
The basics of a good story
Basic stories contain a beginning, middle and end—a familiar arc that draws people in and makes them invested in the outcome. By sharing information through storytelling, you capture the attention of potential patients in a way that feels natural and appeals to their emotions to create a lasting, positive impression.
Some examples of different story arcs to use in healthcare include:
- Testimonials – They work to form relationships because they let people “walk a mile in someone’s shoes” and vicariously live through a positive experience with a rural health facility. As someone reads, watches or listens to a testimonial it helps build trust that if they were to have a similar healthcare need, they would also have a positive experience.
- Process Stories – For example, explaining the steps your healthcare system is taking to ensure patient safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, allows people to get valuable insights into what they could expect as one of your patients. These insights can help answer questions and alleviate potential sources of anxiety, increasing the likelihood of someone entrusting their health to your care.
- Employee Profiles – These are ideal for humanizing healthcare providers and making them seem approachable (versus clinical). By sharing stories about employees, people can make a direct connection with a real person instead of a system. They might find these employees share similar values and interests and that creates a sense of familiarity and trust, which makes choosing your healthcare services a natural fit.
Curious to learn more about storytelling?
As a part of the 2020 Fall Virtual ISHMPR Conference, we are teaming up with Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital to demonstrate the effectiveness of storytelling as a marketing tactic, particularly in the aftermath of COVID-19.
To learn more about how to join us for the presentation, simply click on the graphic to the right!