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Rural Health Information Hub

Marketing Considerations for Telehealth Programs

Successful telehealth implementation often involves making patients aware of telehealth options and encouraging uptake of services. Rural programs will need to market new telehealth programs to community members to promote participation. For example, the Virtual Infusion Project created posters for local providers' offices reminding patients to ask about the possibility of receiving infusion services close to home. The Alaska Veterans Telehealth and Biofeedback Services program used local newspapers, radio stations, sponsored Facebook posts, and word-of-mouth referrals to reach its target audience. Having a self-referral option is also important in rural areas to ensure confidentiality.

Rural communities may need to consider the following questions when marketing telehealth programs:

  • What kinds of communication channels reach patients in this community? Options for engagement may include local newspapers, radio stations, and social media. When determining the appropriate communication channel, rural programs should consider the characteristics of the target population (age, primary language, and other factors).
  • What kinds of partnerships can be leveraged to reach patients? Rural communities can engage a range of stakeholders to market telehealth programs. Other providers could be interested in making referrals for their patients. For example, emergency care physicians can refer patients to telemental health services. Social service agencies, community-based organizations, and faith-based institutions could also help make patients aware of telehealth programs.
  • What kind of internal marketing strategies are needed? In addition to marketing telehealth services to people outside of the organization, telehealth programs may need to make internal staff aware of services and offer training about how to use them. Other staff members can refer patients to telehealth services and facilitate warm handoffs.
  • What kinds of benefits of telehealth will resonate with the target audience? Some populations may prioritize convenience and the ability to receive care close to home. Others may be interested in additional tools to manage chronic health conditions. Understanding the target audience for telehealth will help rural programs develop the most appropriate messages to disseminate.
  • What kinds of concerns about telehealth could affect adoption? Programs may need to address potential concerns associated with telehealth in their marketing materials, including privacy, confidentiality, and safety. Rural communities should also consider stigma associated with certain conditions, including mental and behavioral health conditions.

Resources to Learn More

Telehealth Marketing Plan Development: A Step by Step Guide
Serves as a template and provides information and tools to identify, develop, and implement strategies for hospitals and clinics to promote telehealth programs.
Organization(s): California Telehealth Resource Center
Date: 2021

Telehealth Marketing: The Path to Patients, Profits and PR
Describes the key elements of marketing telehealth programs. Reviews common marketing mistakes and methods to improve marketing strategies for telehealth programs.
Author(s): Desai, N.
Organization(s): National Consortium of Telehealth Research Centers
Date: 11/2012