Measurement is top of mind for marketers and the organizations they serve, but it’s rarely a cut-and-dry matter.

That’s particularly true for healthcare marketers.

According to the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Marketing Development (SHSMD), there are a number of reasons for this.

One is that historically, executives at healthcare organizations have considered marketing to be a cost center and not a profit center.

Another is that in healthcare, marketing has a narrower purview and marketers are disconnected from strategy and product management.

But times are changing and SHSMD says that tightening margins are forcing healthcare marketers to prove that their efforts are paying off.

To help healthcare organizations quantify the effects of their marketing campaigns, SHSMD, which is a personal membership group of the American Hospital Association, formed a Marketing Metrics Committee to help establish a standard framework and metrics for measuring healthcare marketers’ contributions.

SHSMD recently released a white paper, Life Beyond Promotion: Core Metrics for Measuring Marketing’s Financial Performance, that details the committee’s recommendations.

The committee identified four areas where marketing plays a role – growth, brand and image, stakeholder engagement, and marketing communications – and sought to define where marketing has responsibility and influence.

It then developed a list of 17 core metrics that financial executives and healthcare marketers believed were of the greatest importance and how frequently they should be evaluated.

These metrics include Volume Change, Increased Revenue, New Patient Acquisition, Brand Awareness and Patient Satisfaction.

Metrics related to Marketing Communications, which seek to “influence utilization and loyalty,” distinguish between different types of media (paid, earned, owned, etc.).

Not surprisingly, a poll of 34 senior healthcare marketers reveals that growth and brand metrics like Volume Change and Organizational Reputation have been widely adopted, while adoption of a number of Marketing Communications metrics, namely Owned and Paid Media, lag. 

Most worringly, just 57% of the healthcare marketers surveyed indicated Patient Satisfaction is being measured.

This suggests that many healthcare organizations may not currently be connecting the dots between how customer perception of their services can work for or against marketing efforts that directly and indirectly influence the metrics they weigh the most.

Also not surprising is the fact that CFOs were big on measuring marketing’s contribution to growth, brand and image, but weren’t as enthusiastic about measuring its contribution to stakeholder engagement and marketing communications.

Again, this suggests that there could be a disconnect between how all of these areas relate to and impact each other.

The good news is that the SHSMD’s white paper provides healthcare organizations and marketers with practical, actionable recommendations and next steps that can be used to advance the measurement conversation in a meaningful way.

As the white paper’s authors note, “marketing, like any discipline, needs a solid context within its organization” and ”the absence of measurable standards is no longer acceptable.”