This article is part of a series on targeted healthcare marketing, highlighting the stories of people in the trenches of the industry. Read it First of all And second stories in the series.
Mariza Hardin grew up as an intermediary between her family and the healthcare system in rural New Mexico.
She has experienced firsthand many of the barriers faced by Latinx patients living in the United States.
And throughout his nearly 20-year career in health care, Hardin has been plagued with difficult questions, including: what can be done to make health care more accessible, especially for populations vulnerable?
An ounce of prevention
According to a 2022 Pew Research Center study, Latinx and Hispanic Americans have the highest rates of uninsurance of any American racial or ethnic group. They are also less likely to have a primary care physician or seek preventive care and often report negative health care experiences.
In 2021, Hardin co-founded Zócalo Health, a virtual healthcare startup serving Latinx patients in California and Texas. The “culturally aligned” healthcare business aims to connect with a community that has historically been difficult to reach, due to barriers such as language, culture and accessibility.
Hardin met his co-founder, Erik Cardenas, when they were both part of the founding team of Amazon Care, Amazon’s now discontinued healthcare delivery program. Cardenas, who grew up in Houston, also helped her family navigate the healthcare system and “feel heard,” Hardin said.
To put patients at ease, Zócalo hires a mix of “promotoras” and healthcare providers who speak Spanish and understand the culture and traditions of Latinx patients. ‘Promotora’ is the term for a lay health worker who works in the community to facilitate access to health-related resources.
Be aware, be aware
Many Latinx patients are interested in home remedies and traditions passed down through many generations of their families. Rather than dismissing these home remedies, a culturally aware physician can recommend treatments that work in concert with what patients already feel comfortable doing.
Likewise, a care provider can understand patients who might come to a doctor’s office unable to describe exactly what is wrong or how to seek help. Rather than rushing to assign patients specific medical labels, a better plan is to get to know them as people first – their lifestyles and priorities – and then figure out how to get them the care they need. need.
Patients do not have to provide identification or any other documentation to use Zócalo’s subscription telehealth services. They pay a monthly or annual fee directly to Zócalo rather than going through insurance companies.
Hardin spoke with AdExchanger.
AdExchanger: What tactics do you use when advertising to vulnerable and underrepresented populations?
MARIZA HARDIN: Some brands and industries translate their content into Spanish, but most of the time individual translation doesn’t work. Health care is notorious for missing the true meaning of words.
We don’t just rely on simple translations. We tailor our messaging, content, and marketing experience to the Latino demographic. We are also designing our brand experience to align with the needs of the community outside of healthcare.
Health is everything that happens outside of a doctor’s visit. We think about where our main population spends their time, what music they listen to, and what food they eat.
How do you incorporate people’s daily habits into healthcare marketing?
We focus on Millennial Latinas, who are a group that our research shows make many health care decisions for the family. She takes care of her children, her parents and her grandparents. She’s probably also caring for a husband or partner who doesn’t want to see a doctor or get health care because he doesn’t think he needs it. We want to empower Latina millennials to make better healthcare decisions.
One thing Zócalo offers that most healthcare brands don’t is a membership experience where this demographic can come in and say, “I need help with this healthcare issue,” and we can put it in touch with other resources in the community. We can get her a doctor’s appointment, but we can also put her in touch with a yoga studio that’s offering free classes this month.
We pay close attention to what’s important to this Latina as she makes a health care decision and tries to meet her needs.
For targeted ads, how do you decide if something should be in Spanish or English?
Most of the young Latinos we focus on consume their content in English. They are very loyal to Latin American brands and businesses, but they want to consume their content in English. Much of our content is currently in English, with Spanglish to help customers feel that sense of culture and connection.
This will evolve over time as we have parents at the door who prefer Spanish. But first we need to build trust with the primary health care decision maker in the family. Young Latinos, who are our main customers, are really loyal to brands that can flex in both languages but are mostly in English.
Are there any big do’s and don’ts when targeting healthcare marketing to a Latinx population?
Do not rely on a computer program or AI to perform translations. They don’t work 100% of the time, and if you get one word wrong, you lose confidence.
You have to work to understand the community you are trying to target on a very local level. What is your community? What do they value? What content are they already consuming and how do you align with that same brand and feel?
It’s not enough to find stock photos of people eating tacos at the table.
This interview has been edited and condensed.