Hospital Impact—A healthcare provider's guide to promoting telehealth for seniors

Businessman video-chats with doctor on laptop
When promoting your telehealth services to seniors, don’t talk about features, talk about how you make customers’ lives easier by solving a problem. (Getty/AndreyPopov)
Holly Rollins
Holly Rollins

The 21st century is all about convenience, and physician practices and specialty health organizations are responding by providing great telehealth options for seniors.

If you’re one of these organizations, rest easy knowing the hard part is done: developing a tool or appointment system for seniors to access remotely. If you haven’t, it’s time you join the online health revolution, which is expected to reach 7 million users by 2018, per a report by IHS Technology.

The question is: How do you promote this new offering effectively? We know seniors are online, with 34% of people ages 65 and up saying they use social media, according to the Pew Research Center. The focus should be less on where you promote, however, and more about which message will resonate with your audience. Seniors have different concerns and online habits than younger generations.

RELATED: Telehealth expansion takes a step forward with Senate’s passage of CHRONIC Care Act

Use the following ideas as a starting point for your telehealth promotion strategy.

Teach them how to use the service or product

The Pew Research Center also found that seniors are less confident than younger generations when using technology, with 26% saying they’re very confident and 39% being somewhat confident; 34% reported “only a little confident” or “not at all.”

To promote your product to seniors, you have to give them the confidence they need to try it. This is where tutorials become helpful. Luckily, we’re living in the age of video, and you have a wide variety of outlets to promote your telehealth tutorials. If you already have a large YouTube following, start there and be sure to experiment with Facebook Live as well.

In addition, create FAQ pages or text-based tutorial pages on your website. Not all seniors are on social media, but they do like to research online, as Anita Kamiel, R.N., explains in a contributed piece for The Huffington Post. Set FAQ pages up for SEO success by choosing highly searched keywords and placing them in the header, URL, and beginning and end of the content.

The telehealth education page from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is a great example of how all of these educational materials can work together. The page hosts videos, images and explanations, all of which could also be parsed out as individual marketing materials.

Build trust by answering common questions

Telehealth is still a relatively new concept, and for seniors, it may seem as foreign as artificial intelligence. To effectively promote your product, you must build trust among seniors and alleviate concerns surrounding ease-of-use and privacy, the latter of which is a significant concern for seniors.

In fact, 61% of those 65 and older say they are “very concerned” about businesses and people they don’t know getting personal information about them or their families, compared to 46% of Americans between 18 and 29, according to a Pew report.

Start by talking with your customer care team: What questions do they get asked most often? What are common reasons for stopping usage of the product? What are typical pain points?

Put the answers to these questions into creative marketing assets, like social imagery, blog content and informational emails. Better yet, find a current senior user to answer those questions for you, like in the example below from Providence Health and Services. It put helpful information into a blog post, used video to make it easily accessible, and then shared it on a social platform to spread awareness of the service.

Identify the problem you’re fixing

Every great business solves a problem, and your telehealth solution is no different. That makes this a great marketing strategy: Don’t talk about features, talk about how you make customers’ lives easier by solving a problem.

Beltone is a great example, as the specialty health organization is making great strides in this area. It recently began offering “Remote Travel Care,” which allows customers to use an app to request personalized hearing aid adjustments, in real time, from wherever they are, rather than going to multiple appointments—a major pain point for hearing aid users.

In this case, the solutions Beltone is promoting include:

  • Personalized service, catered to customers’ needs
  • Convenient care when they need it most.

These solutions and benefits are made clear in the organization’s promotional video, which is just one minute long. The video is both easily accessible to all seniors and can also be used for promotion elsewhere—uploaded to Facebook, embedded in promotional emails and even added to the Remote Care landing page.

Bring it all together

Don’t let your convenient services go unnoticed by a segment of the population who can benefit from them the most. Use these ideas to effectively address important questions, solutions and concerns with your marketing efforts. Appeal to the needs and worries of seniors to remind them that telehealth will make their lives easier.

Holly Rollins has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and public relations. As president of 10x digital, she has facilitated successful content marketing and digital marketing/PR for variety of sectors, including healthcare.