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Online Cancer Program Marketing

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Traditionally, cancer patients have not acted like consumers. But a new type of cancer patient is emerging—one who is more active in researching providers, more likely to challenge providers’ recommendations, and more interested in having a seat at the decision-making table.

This study provides five sample marketing messages to attract today’s self-guided cancer patients along with three tactics to improve providers’ online presence.

Download the study

How do we attract the new cancer care consumer?

Cancer has long been a referrals-driven business, but the results from our 2015 Cancer Patient Experience Survey revealed that today’s program leaders also need to appeal to a growing number of self-directed patients who view their referring physician’s recommendation as just one of many factors when deciding where to receive care.

That's why we're giving you marketing tools that are broken down into two strategies: the first strategy provides effective marketing messages that align cancer programs' strengths with the priorities of their target populations, and the second strategy offers tactics for optimizing providers' presence where it matters most—the web.

Speak directly to cancer patients' concerns

Message 1: Physicians are people too
Because cancer is a personal experience, patients want to connect with their physician on an individual level. Cancer programs should strive to make physicians' unique personalities, interests, and philosophies of care known to patients.

Message 2: We're putting our whole team on this
Cancer patients are increasingly aware of the importance of team-based care, and cancer programs can benefit from highlighting their approach to coordination.

Message 3: The doctor will see you now
Cancer programs can set themselves apart from their competitors by promoting speedy access to care, as Tanner Health System did when it guaranteed patients a three-day turnaround to complete diagnosis and treatment planning.

Message 4: Your time is valuable to us
While seeing a physician immediately after diagnosis is important to cancer patients, they also value efficient, timely care throughout their treatment experience.

Message 5: Only the best for you
More patients are searching for quality information through platforms like HealthGrades, Yelp, and ZocDoc, but they struggle to find metrics that are specific to cancer and easy to understand. Cancer programs should take advantage of the opportunity to shape conversation around available data, its strengths, and its limitations.

Special report: Second opinion clinics
Nearly half of oncology patients obtain a second clinical opinion on their diagnosis. While most cancer programs offer second opinions on an informal basis, few are leveraging them as a channel to grow their volumes.

Meet cancer patients where they are

Give patients the information they want
To design an effective website, cancer centers need to collect patient input and make sure they understand the wording, phrases, and imagery that appeal to their market.

Make your website easy to find
Programs that invest resources in developing a best-in-class website should maximize its benefit by ensuring that consumers can easily find it.

Put yourself in your patients' shoes
Social media can be an effective online strategy, but cancer programs need to make the most of it by delivering content in a format that appeals to consumers.

Additional resources

  Cancer Quality Reporting Decision Guide

  Cancer Program Website Redesign Toolkit

  Marketing Department Discussion Guide for Cancer Programs

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