Insights from Google’s BrandHealth Conference: What Mountain View Says About the State of the Healthcare Industry

Several of us on the Fathom Healthcare team recently had the opportunity to attend Google’s first BrandHealth conference in Chicago. With open eyes and ears, we rolled up to Google’s offices in the Windy City on a cold February morning, unsure of what to expect of this first-ever event—and were blown away (no pun intended, Chicago) by the insights and data that were shared.

We’ve attempted to boil down our notes into a few concise points—no easy task! Here’s a few of our key takeaways.

  1. Function > Form

Google knowledge graphThere was a time for a beautiful, artistic website that impressed your visitors and invited them to stay for a while, exploring your content and walking through your virtual hallways admiring your impressive CSS design skills. That time ended in 2006. Now, your prospective patients want “Just the facts,” and they want them fast. In 2015, 60% of patients (all patients, not just digitally-acquired patients) said they used mobile in choosing a hospital. Of this 60%, 86% said mobile search specifically impacted their decision. Have you seen the Google Knowledge Graph?

In separate Google research on the value of video, those surveyed said there were 2 key factors that they were looking for in a health video: It had to be relatable, and it had to be comprehensive. Medical jargon is out; honest, straight-talking advice is definitely in. If your website isn’t speaking the same language as your patients (read: they can understand it), you’ve got some work to do.

  1. The Local Train Has Already Left the Station

“You need a local strategy” is not groundbreaking advice anymore; but you might be surprised how many hospitals still lack an effective way to reach potential patients right down the street. In 2015, 60% of the time someone searched “hospital near me” in Google, there was no health system bidding on that query. Your new patients are quite possibly working harder to find you than you’re working to find them. The same was true of emergency room care; 40% of “ER near me” searches had no paid response, in spite of research showing that ⅔ of all ER visitors used search to find that emergency room. Overall, “Near me” searches are up 34X since 2011 (3,400%) and still climbing.

  1. Your Patients Don’t Care About Your Brand

Let’s be honest: We as hospitals are notoriously proud of our brands. We’ve got clean, concise logos and mission statements that veritably whisper “trust” and “compassion” to our patients. The reality is that your patients, or at least the majority of them, don’t really care. Nearly 40% of searchers have no preferred health facility when they begin their online search. Even once they’ve received care, 60% of patients go home and validate their doctor’s information with an online search. However impressive your branding, and however world-class your doctors may be, your patients can go online and get advice from the Mayo Clinic in seconds. Who do you think wins the trust battle?

  1. Video is the Future

YouTube health searchesChalk this up with other things you’ve heard before, but we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t mention this here. When it comes to complicated and sensitive health information, patients are going crazy for video. 2015 saw more than 1 billion health-related searches on YouTube, up 92% from 2014. But they’re not just looking for any video; as mentioned above, they’re looking for video that is both relatable and comprehensive, that speaks their language but gives them solid answers to their questions. Check out this video, “How to Calm a Crying Baby,” that has received more than 18 million views having been online for 80 days as of the time of this writing, and has received national news coverage.

This research is still being released, so check back again soon for an updated version with more findings and detail!

What do you think? Have you made any of these a priority for your organization in 2016? Tell us in the comments.


Did you like this blog? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog “Fathom’s Healthcare Team Shares Healthy Resolutions for 2016” to see where you should be focusing your healthcare marketing efforts this year.


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