Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tired of bad & boring healthcare vendor webinars?

I don’t know about you, but I for one am becoming very tired of attending webinars that for lack of decorum or tack on my part, are frankly, boring. 

All that time spent by the sponsoring organization  developing  the topic and content, PPTs,  marketing slick titles with content learning promises, gaining an audience and then flatness. The speakers show few or any signs of being alive or even excited about the presentation.

Then there is the speaker or speakers attempting to sound professorial as if the attendee is hanging on every word of wisdom to flow from them. Better yet are the slide readers, who are followed by the going over the allotted time resulting in no Q&A. And my personal favorite, 60 minutes of why the company’s solution is the best thing since sliced bread. 

On a separate note, I am writing this as I listen half hardily to several people with a moderator do a preplanned Q&A. It’s as dead as a doorknob.

At least they provided slides which look really interesting but have never been referred to at all.

In an age when executive leadership in hospitals and health systems are looking for solutions to solve incredibly difficult business challenges, thought leadership webinars are a great way to reach that audience and generate Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) for becoming Sales Accepted Leads (SALs). 

Even better if one takes the content from the slides and recorded audio to produce a research or issue brief for after-market use. Better yet for the vendor is when webinar sponsorship is by an industry association, is cobranded and marketed, and has one of a client’s senior leaders to co-present.

One can really have the greatest thing since sliced bread but if it is presented in a flat sounding boring webinar, you may have already lost the sale.

Webinar “boringness” usually happens when marketing acquiesces  control of the development of the webinar and allows the content thought leaders do their thing.  Everyone knows that marketing is easy attitude.

Good webinars require marketing leadership and exercise of control. Period, end of discussion.

Now that being said, I am not saying that development of an engaging webinar is a marketing dictatorship. On the contrary, it is a collaborative shared effort where there is a free exchange between all the parties involved to arrive at the best possible product.
And that means people place their egos in the closet and work together, so that the webinar reflects the value proposition, delivers a problem solution orientation and a  way  for solving the business issue and positions the company with the solution as to go to leader. In turn, the webinar should generate MQLs that become SALs to become closed sales driving revenue and growth.

Stop with the boring, professorial sounding, talking head webinars.

Do make them:
  • Topic timely. Engaging. Enlightening. Participatory. Knowledgeable. Rehearsed. Delivered on time and solution focused. Deliver what you promised in the marketing campaign.
  • With plenty of time for Q&A.

  •  Provide slide versions of  War and Peace, less is more.
  • Tell people what they already know.
  • Give a history lesson of healthcare and how we got to where we are today. The audience is smart.  Read from the slides.
  • Thought leadership in webinars is not about what one knows, but the application of that knowledge is a new and different way.

After all, the end result should be sales, revenue and growth. Not boredom, lack of interest and no sale.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Is it time to make hospital marketing stickier?

With all the things that hospital leadership and healthcare marketing executives have on their plates and keeping them up at night, here’s a new one.  And unfortunately, it’s out of one’s control and no exceptions are allowed.

The economy has shifted from a product and service economy to an experience economy. Hospitals and health systems, any healthcare provider really, are operating in an economy that is radically different then the past.

Being paid for the production of care in fee-for-service model is a product and service approach to healthcare. Marketing to drive utilization to do more things is product and service marketing focused on feature and claims but not necessarily benefits. And with all the healthcare providers taking product marketing features approach, it’s no wonder then, that little differentiation exists in the market resulting in provider marketing that is not sticky.

Nobody remembers the advertisements.  But the healthcare and patient remembers what they saw on social media or the Internet. The healthcare consumer is talking and searching for healthcare information to learn and make choices.  But is the hospital or health system listening?

Welcome to the experience economy, where the experience of care trumps the products and services of care.

“In an experience economy, it’s not about what you do, but more about how you do it.”, Grant Leboff, Sticker Marketing- How To Win Customers In A Digital Age.
Now what?

Time for change.

To grow and thrive in the experience economy while all else is in flames around the hospital or health system, it means moving from traditional marketing, to experiential marketing that addresses  needs of and meets the experience expectations of the healthcare consumer and patient.

Making provider marketing sticky is all about the care experience and engagement of the person on a very personal level. And given the multitude of ways, one of the most effective will be social media.

Social media is about amplification. Amplification of the experience. Amplification of the brand messaging. Amplification of marketing that is sticky. 

Time to go where the healthcare consumer and patient can be found:

59 percent of adults look online for health information
39 percent use the Internet to figure out their diagnosis
53 percent discuss the information and their diagnosis they found online with a clinician
41 percent of consumer online diagnoses are confirmed by the clinician
41 percent say social media would influence their choice of hospital or doctor
Source: AIS Media, Social Media For Medical Marketing Webinar, August 12, 2015

What the above all represents is how in an experience economy consumers take action.  Not necessarily responding to traditional marketing, they are looking for the experience of what you do, not how you do it with technology, bricks and mortar or smiling physicians accepting new patients.

Here are 10 new marketing rules in an experience economy for making provider marketing stickier:

  • Understand fully and completely the healthcare consumer and person experience. With over 147 touch-points for consumer and patient experience with a hospital. It’s vital in the experience economy that marketing understands what information they are seeking, and deliver it to them at the right experience touch-point with the right call-to-action.
  •  Content is king. Make it memorable. It’s how you drive engagement through effective and compelling storytelling around the experience of care, not the how of the care.  From the web site to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope etc, focus on the experience. Be visual. Be compelling.
  • Identify and work with key influencers.  They need to ample your message through social media. Encourage user generated content.
  • Testimonials about the experience of care and engagement from patients and healthcare consumers.
  • Integrate and communicate the value of the brand, key brand messages and brand promise across all channels.
  • Use social media and SEO to amplify your message. Influencer’s and patients providing testimonials need to complete online reviews to raise your placement in Google and other search engine results.
  • Integrate the information and experience across all channels and platforms that consumer will use- desk top, smartphone or tablet for a seamless experience. No disconnects. The healthcare consumer moves freely between all three devices expecting the same experience across all three.
  • Traditional marketing needs to focus more on the price, outcomes, experience and drive engagement.  No more pretty building, smiling doctors, shiny new equipment. 
  • Teach employees how to use their social media channels to amplify the provider.
  • Teach the healthcare organization that marketing today is no longer about transactions but value.  Transactions will come after the value is understood.

Many traditional healthcare consultants and firms will say this is just all nonsense.  That marketing really makes has no place in the experience or engagement management process.  But then when you look at that advice, have any real, tangible, and measurable results been accomplished outside of hearing what one desires to be told? Or, it just treading water until the next healthcare market move slaps one upside the head?

There is no escaping or slowing down the experience economy as it overtakes healthcare.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Defiant to the end, hospital closes. Nobody cares?

Dateline Anywhere USA. Hospital anywhere closed today after serving the community for 80 years. Beset by changes in reimbursement, competition from retail medicine, telehealth, innovation and an empowered healthcare consumer, hospital leadership and Board of Directors could not adapt to the new healthcare market.  Several hundred employees lost their jobs.  No one in the community seemed to care… as reported in the local paper.

Is that the headline of a story being written across the country fueled by provider leadership? It’s a scary thought and unfortunately it is being written all too often. From a marketing perspective it’s not entirely avoidable but could be. 

In the end, the inability to adapt quickly enough and meet the needs of the healthcare consumer and patient utilizing less costly treatment alternatives and innovative services that meet their needs along the dimensions of price, outcomes, engagement and experience will write that story.

Blaming declining reimbursements as the sole contributor to the closure of a hospital would be a mistake. An important contributor as the leadership could not adapt or guide the healthcare enterprise through the transition to a quality based reimbursement system, yes.  But not the sole reason as some may have you believe.

Will anybody care if the hospital closes?

Unless the healthcare enterprise is the sole community provider probably not, there are always alternatives. If leadership is being honest, this is a new reality for many.

What to do.

This isn’t about P4P, capitation, risk-sharing, ACOs, Bundled Payments or any other of the myriad of reimbursement models being proposed, tested or put into operational practice.  This is about what providers can do from a marketing standpoint to mitigate the risk of that headline becoming a reality.

Marketing is an asset and not just there to make things look pretty.

Survival in today’s environment requires focus beyond readmissions, patient safety improvements, elimination of preventable deaths, cost reductions, quality improvements etc.  All very important business critical mandates as well as the cost of doing business in today’s healthcare world. While doing all of that you still have to find ways to grow.

Here’s how to grow along the four dimensions of price, outcomes, engagement and experience:

Become the customer focused organization in reality not thought.
It’s about focus on the healthcare consumer and patient, not the hospitals. It’s an external market focus compared to an internal focus. It’s about becoming the healthcare consumer/patient focused hospital. And saying that the healthcare enterprise is doesn’t make it so.  Measure the healthcare enterprise against the 20 MAKKOR scale attributes of a customer focused organization.  Then and only then will one know what it takes to be the customer focused organization and the improvement steps needed for that journey.

Evaluate the healthcare enterprise brand and competitive position.
Consumers and patients are ready for transparency and convenient technology-enabled access to care. Healthcare providers that are capable of identifying meeting these needs and how they want their healthcare needs meet though technology focused on them, will gain new patients and the next-generation of physicians. 

Engage healthcare customers and patients all of the time.
An individual is only a patient 1/3rd of the time they come in contact with you.  That is during the diagnosis, treatment and recovery phase.  Pre and post this experience, they are a healthcare consumer not a patient.  So why then is it the only time one chooses to meaningfully engage them is during the period when they are a patient?   Engaging the healthcare consumer on a continuous basis builds loyalty and importantly keeps them in network, which has some pretty significant financial ramifications in a risk-based reimbursement model. 

Engage the physicians.
No matter the payment model the hospital or health system still needs a physician or physician extender’s order to get anything done in a healthcare setting. That means engaging physicians in meaningful ways, using the methods, technology and systems that will make their life easier, improve their productivity and protect or increase their income. An effective and efficient physician has more to do with the impact of cost and quality in the hospital than any other factor.

Improve the physician experience.
How hard is it for a physician or physician extender to practice medicine in your organization?  Have you looked at the hassle factor that physician’s encounter when they try to get things done in the hospital setting?  Understand how the physician experiences your organization at every touch-point they encounter the hospital. Understand their experiences overall from beginning to end, not just in an isolated segment. Fix what is broken, keep what is working. The more satisfying the experience, the better you will do financially. 

Make the healthcare consumer/patient experience memorable.
A healthcare provider's ability to deliver an experience that sets it apart in the eyes of its patients and potential patients from its competitors - traditional and non-traditional - serves to increase their loyalty to the brand. One needs to actively manage the customer experience in totality by understanding the customer's point of view.  That is, all touch points internally and externally that a customer/patient comes in contact with which in turn creates the experience. Exceptional experience means gains in market share, brand awareness, and revenue. 

Embrace and join the retail healthcare movement.
Traditional ways of delivering healthcare will go by the wayside in many cases.  Price convenience, access and outcomes are the drivers in retail healthcare.  Find the need, understand the consumer’s behavior drivers, design offering around the consumer not the hospital in a convenient location and price it appropriately. If you can't compete in this way market position, share and revenue will erode.

Social media is the currency for reaching audiences.
urn to social media and networks to engage, manage the experience and drive adherence. As healthcare continues the evolution to a healthcare consumer dominated semi-retail environment, social networking is a healthcare marketing channel that is underutilized and underperforms today, but holds great potential to improve engagement, experience and adherence.

All of this takes organizational change, leadership, vision and meaningful action.  Unless things change its over and done. The headline will be a reality.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Divided confused markets? Healthcare provider marketing in a quandary?

I used quandary as the word choice in the title because providers are caught between two worlds, it’s still a fee-for-service environment shifting to fee-for-value and risk.  Two very different reimbursement models but both are having significant impact on utilization and revenue. 

Another quandary is the clamor in the market from government, employers, healthcare consumer and patient with the desire for price and outcome information to make informed decisions.  Then there is the whole experience and engagement that healthcare consumers are demanding in many ways mirroring the level of experience and engagement that they have with Amazon and others for example.

Faced with several seemingly contradictory market requirements and needs internally and externally, what is the healthcare marketer’s answer?

I propose to the healthcare provider marketer that in reality, these markets for one’s strategic marketing purposes to drive growth, revenue and appropriate utilization are not that dissimilar.  Especially in a market that is bifurcating where the need to drive fee-for-service utilization still makes the hospital a revenue center.  And this does not mean that two strategic marketing approaches need to be taken.

The healthcare consumer, is the healthcare consumer, is the healthcare consumer….

That is the focus, not the reimbursement model.

They don’t change because they are in a fee-for-service model/plan or a quality/risk model. That really impacts the provider’s revenue. The healthcare consumer/ patient still have to pay premiums.  Still has to pay deductibles and co-pays.  Still has to make choices such as selecting a narrow network or obtaining care in or out of network for example. In that regard the healthcare consumer will shell out of pocket over $300 billion in 2015 for premiums, deductibles and co-pays. They are paying attention.

In either model, provider marketing comes down to meeting the healthcare consumer and patient needs along four dimensions:  price; outcome; experience and engagement.  

As one designs the marketing strategy and key messages for the brand by fully understanding the retail healthcare consumer driven market, one can have the best of both words.  That is if there is a willingness to lead and stop the nonsense brand messaging of we are the best, look at our awards, have all the technological bells and whistles and we care more messaging that still goes on today.

If provider marketing began to focus the brand and marketing messages in these four dimensions now, while still in a fee-for-service environment they will accomplish several things.  Be the first in their market to do so and take the high ground with competitive positioning.  Secondly, everyone else becomes an also ran and me too, it’s called a Blue Ocean strategy. Third,   the needs expressed by the healthcare consumer and others are meet. Fourth, you have the momentum in a competitive retail medical, healthcare consumer driven market place. And lastly by doing this now, no need to spend great sums of money coming up with strategic campaigns along these four dimensions because you now have too.

This model of four dimensions for provider marketing can be effective in any kind of market, for any kind of reimbursement mechanism.  Especially as early indicators are that Bundles Payments may actually work better than ACOs.  Bundled Payments bring price certainty to the healthcare consumer.

Focus on the needs of the healthcare consumer and patient along the dimensions of price, outcome, experience and engagement to build the brand, drive revenue and growth in a healthcare world full of quandary.

To take a saying from Jake Poore, Founder and President of Integrated Loyalty Systems on patient experience, which I borrowed for provider healthcare marketing, “It’s really simple, but really hard”.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.