How well do you know patients in your community? How much do they even consider health care in their daily lives? When’s the last time they gave any thought to the things that you, as a health care marketer, think about all day? Every day.

At Hailey Sault, we’re on a journey to help transform—perhaps to fix—some of the underlying maladies of health care, and health care marketing.

In this short blog, I’ll address just one of them: you probably don’t know why patients give a shit about what you’re selling.

That’s a harsh statement, I know. I’m not being critical of you, personally or professionally. But most health care marketers simply have not considered why the very people you count on to pay attention to your marketing, to consider the message, and to actually choose you even start that process. I’m sure you have a grasp on the latest perception and utilization research from your markets. But too often, those only scratch the surface, and won’t come close to telling you why a patient will leave your competition and come to you. Fortunately for you, we have considered all of these issues.

Let me start with a brief bit of rationale. For years, our agency worked with local community banks. As we went through the discovery process with each new client, invariably our team was impressed with the community bank’s culture of service, responsiveness, local decision-making and use of technology. They openly acknowledged that the community bank was way more appealing than their big, national bank that charged fees for “just looking in their direction,” only offered customer service through an 800-number, and decentralized all decision-making. But when we asked if they would switch to this wonderful community bank, invariably they responded, “Well, that would be too hard.”

That. Would. Be. Too. Hard.

That was always a head scratcher. What we realized, though, was that people just want to make it through their day. (Don’t we all.) And no matter how much logic and reasoning is put in front of us about smarter, better choices—that would cost less and make us happier in the long run—people will generally default to the status quo.

The same is true of patients, and their willingness to change providers, clinics, hospitals or health systems. Generally, they made their choices a long time ago, and are in no hurry to make a change. Unless you can tap into one of several key drivers that “wakes them from their slumber,” you may be wasting your money trying to get new volume or increase market share.

But if you are willing to dig deeper into patient motivation, there’s good news. Patients are willing to make changes, and you just need to know where to look.

If you really want to effect change in your market, here are the first three things you should know:

  1. Patients are tired of being just a number. Of the top ten drivers for change, six are related to good relationships with providers where they feel they’re heard, with doctors who spend time with them, and have options explained.
  2. The lack of transparency in costs is a growing turnoff. Nearly one-third of patients would leave their current provider if they felt another would be transparent, and help them understand the cost of care.
  3. They’re not paying attention to you the way you think they are. About one-in-three has ever switched providers, and one-in-five is thinking about it today. Think about it: one person of every five is thinking of health care, at all, today. Consider that when you’re sharing marketing projections with your senior team.

These small nuggets are just food for thought. They’re important, but please consider downloading the full report here: It is meant to be layered with your existing quantitative insights so that you can really effect change, and drive better outcomes for your organization.

Better yet, call me, and I’ll give you fifteen minutes that’ll change your thinking about the work that you do.

And remember, if you’re not banking with a local community bank, ask yourself why.