5 Marketing Priorities of Hospitals & Health Systems

The modern hospital and health system marketer must meet their audience where they are. Having a digital-first approach is critical for success.


Now more than ever hospital and health system marketing teams are feeling the challenges of being under-resourced to accomplish an ever-growing list of priorities. In speaking with hospital and health system marketing leaders across the country, the following priority themes have emerged as they push towards delivering outstanding healthcare to the people who need it most.

1) Patient Acquisition

Many hospitals and health systems have historically focused their marketing efforts on brand awareness within their specific geographies – be it local, regional, national, or global. And while brand awareness is ultimately critical for all strategic priorities, patient acquisition requires a different set of strategies and tactics that are aligned to clinical departments and services. Even though demand from healthcare consumers is expressed in their digital search behavior, hospitals are often under-invested in meeting that consumer demand for discovering, considering, and making decisions about receiving clinical services. Ten years ago most hospitals didn’t have a digital patient acquisition strategy. That is changing and sophisticated hospital and health system marketers have robust patient acquisition strategies and tactics in place.

Today’s consumers have high expectations to be well informed when making decisions and are most likely reaching for that information through their digital devices and that expectation includes healthcare. As C-Suites of healthcare organizations are leading a digital transformation of their service delivery and operational management, they must also consider if they are meeting or exceeding the experience standards of the modern healthcare consumers pre and post-digital marketing click. 

Patient Acquisition Success Story
A children’s hospital exceeded its performance goals when Parallel Path launched a social media advertising and display campaign for an innovative 3D cast for active kids. This was the hospital’s first social media advertising campaign that specifically marketed clinical services. Leveraging the targeting capabilities of social media, the campaign reached mothers during the summer months. The campaign was optimize
d through testing imagery, headline and description copy, and audiences for top performers.

2) Employee Recruitment

It’s an understatement to say that the pandemic placed a heavy toll on our healthcare workforce. Hospitals are now challenged to recruit healthcare professionals more than ever, and traditional methods are falling short. A digital employee recruitment campaign outside of the typical job directories gives a boost to healthcare recruitment efforts in this highly competitive recruitment market. Hospitals that deliver their employment value proposition to potential hires outside of traditional HR channels are able to make connections and stand out from the competition. 


Employee Recruitment Success Story
At Parallel Path, we support healthcare organizations’ recruitment by pushing awareness through social media advertising and display advertising while capturing high intent demand through paid search advertising. A recent campaign for diversity recruitment exceeded applicant goals by 293%.


3) Awareness Marketing

The core approach of many hospital and health system marketing strategies is generating and maintaining brand awareness that keeps the value proposition of the organization front of mind with its broad audience. Ultimately, awareness marketing is essential in building audience confidence and trust. Awareness creates a lift for all strategic priorities, be it patient acquisition, foundation goals, recruitment, etc. Hospitals and health systems with mature awareness strategies are growing their awareness through integrated digital-first campaigns across paid, earned, and owned media.

4) Marketing Data and Analytics

We should all know the old adage that marketers often know half of their marketing is working but they don’t know which half. While that was true in the past, today’s hospital and health system marketers need to be confident that they have the marketing data collection infrastructure in a place that enables the visibility and communication of performance that builds confidence with day-to-day program leaders and key C-Suite stakeholders. We can only optimize what we measure, and attributing the key metrics of impressions, brand lift, traffic acquisition, user behavior, engagement, and conversion/goal attainment is essential for the incremental improvement and growth of a modern hospital marketing program.

5) Foundation Marketing 

For those hospitals and health systems with active foundations, competition for charitable giving, be it from corporate donors or individual campaigns is highly competitive. The ability to communicate a compelling human-to-human story that reaches your charitable giving audience is essential to resonate and inspire action. A digital-first foundation marketing strategy focuses on leveraging channels and tactics that create awareness and inspire action giving a lift to all foundation priorities.

Foundation Marketing Success Story
Parallel Path leverages multiple tactics to achieve foundation goals. Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategies enable foundations to target specific corporate audiences. Social Media advertising to previous donors as well as prospecting for new donors makes contributions a frictionless digital experience.


Parallel Path’s marketing approach provides healthcare-specific strategic consulting and project management coupled with deep channel-level expertise for best-in-class integrated marketing execution. Delivering a digital-first marketing strategy and service offering that supports the key priorities of leading hospitals and health systems enables Parallel Path to partner with under-resourced healthcare marketing teams for specific projects, campaigns, and always-on initiatives.

About the Author

Hardy Kalisher has been on the executive leadership team of Parallel Path for 10 years and brings over 25 years of marketing experience to our client partners such as UnitedHealthcare, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, OhioHealth, Craig Hospital, Olive, and Rocky Mountain Health Plans. Hardy is a respected industry thought leader in health, wellness, and lifestyle brand marketing.

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