Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Future of Healthcare Marketing Under Reform

Why do we need marketing?

I can see it now, CFOs and other senior managers in hospitals and health systems around the country going … “Tell me again…why do we need marketing? After all by 2014, millions of uninsured will be insured. Sure we face reimbursement cuts, but we can weather that” and the conversation goes on……

Marketing will be more important than ever!

As we enter the brave new world of healthcare reform, several significant events will take place over the coming couple of years for which most healthcare organizations are not prepared for:

Value purchasing
Demand management
Consumer choice

What will be required is a refinement of marketing strategies, tactics, integrated messaging and excellence in execution for the brave new healthcare world. Marketing needs to be closely aligned with the organizational strategic, business development and financial plans

The new marketing environment.

Competition is not going by the wayside. It will only increase as more for-profit corporations with deeper pockets enter the market. Mergers and acquisitions will not go by the wayside either. As a matter of fact, I would not be surprised to see more mergers and acquisitions by healthcare organizations in preparation for 2014.

The most profound change due to reform is that you really no longer have patients. You have true consumers. The new “patient” is a consumer who is already or will be, price-savvy, quality-conscious, knowledgeable and demanding.

Hospitals have little if any experience in true direct to consumer retail marketing. I believe that reform finally takes the last step in commoditization of healthcare where people will buy on price and quality. The market equation going forward is BtoB, BtoBtoC and BtoC.

Strategic Marketing Plan, Tactical Marketing Plan and Flawless Execution.

You will need a strategic marketing plan leading to a tactical marketing plan for each of the following audiences that you must flawlessly execute. The market is a hash mistress and without these three components, you will find out how harsh the market can be. Your audiences are:

Insurance companies
Medicare and Medicaid
Legislators at the State and Federal Level
Your employees
Other health systems
Pharmaceutical manufactures*
Home Health agencies
Social Service Agencies
Community groups
Retail pharmacies
Ambulatory treatment centers i.e. infusion services

A little explanation about why pharmaceutical manufacturers as an audience is warranted here.

Over 600 drugs in the development pipeline are either infused or injected medications requiring medical administration that fall into what is known as the specialty pharmacy area. The cost of drugs and changes in insurance plans regarding physician “buy and bill” practices find very few physicians participating.

This leaves a market open to the Walgreens, Apria’s and others of the world who already have existing infusion centers and it can be assumed are planning to increase their presence in the healthcare market. Failure to enter this market in a timely fashion means you could be leaving potentially millions of dollars on the table to the likes of Walgreens and others who are refining and expanding those strategies and already have the pharma relationships that will give them access to these drugs.

Moving forward.

There will be more on healthcare marketing and reform going forward. But for now, a lot of work is needed aligning healthcare organizations and marketing departments to the new market under reform. That will require leadership, decisiveness as well as the ability to refine strategies and execute them flawlessly.

I can be reached directly at 815-293-1471 or for healthcare interim executive management, marketing strategy development, public and media relations, and crisis communications services

Monday, March 15, 2010

Experience Mapping Adds Value to Your Marketing Efforts

What is experience mapping?

This is a marketing analytic technique that allows you to identify the communication channels and categories of service that individuals move though in a relationship building process. It allows you to more fully understand visually the relationship, and messaging opportunities. Created originally by the Boston Consulting Group for retail shoppers, I have taken the concepts and applied to healthcare. This analysis can be used for any audience or service-line. For our purposes today, here is a simplified version of a patient experience map.

First create a chart that contains 5 columns or more and three rows. Each column is a different chevron and each row contains different information. Touch points can be in multiple columns.

What an experience map looks like:

The Patient Experience

First column first row box: Relationship Iinitiation

First column second row box: Patient is exposed to hospital information

First column third row box: Referral Touch Points:

Family; Friends; Physician referral service; Wellness program; Advertising; Direct mail; News articles; Web site; Call center; Employees; Community programs; Chat rooms; Social media; Health insurance; Government; Employer; JCAHO etc.

Your matrix of chart should be at least five columns by three rows. Now complete columns and rows for Evaluation- Patient considers information; Utilization - Initial utilization; Patient management - Managing the patient relationship; Payment - Patient action.

What it all means:

Now these chevrons and listings are not all inclusive, nor should they be. This exercise requires the marketing department to lead the discussion seeking input from all corners and levels of the organization. The right chevrons, with the right touch points can lead to aha moments for the organization while providing a not before seen picture of how the sum of the individual experiences work together- separate yet one experience in totality. Think of the possibilities and ideas that this can generate in how you message and coordinate the experience of your medical staff, employees, service-line efforts, referral services, community programs etc.

This simple yet effective tool, done correctly can assist greatly in creating an integrated strategy-based and tactical organizational or service-line marketing plan across the hospital. The end result is a more effective and integrated messaging; creation of a stronger brand and new opportunities to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

If you would like an example of experience mapping, just drop me a line at and I will be glad to send you one.

If you need assistance or would like more information, I can be reached directly at 815-293-1471 or for marketing strategy development, public and media relations, and crisis communications consulting services