Thursday, June 24, 2010

A hospital admission as a defect in the process of care

A short while ago, I had a conversation with a colleague who relayed his conversation with a hospital executive around business development, innovation and growth. Hence the comment "We are in survival mode here."

My colleague also brought up the point to this same executive that somewhere, a group of entrepreneurs was looking at the process of care and have come to the conclusion that a hospital admission is a defect in the process of care.

Now that one stopped me dead in my tracks. Think about it.

The hospital admission as a defect in the process of providing care.

An attitude, much often too common in hospital executive leadership that we are just trying to survive. This is sad really, when innovation, growth opportunities and new business development initiatives are being left on the table because hospital executives can't get out of the "we're just trying to survive" mentality. Yep, leave it to the Walgreens, CVS/Caremark and Walmarts of the world to figure it out. Hint, they already have.

If your just trying to survive today without looking for market opportunity and finding ways to be more consumer-focused, innovative and non-traditional in providing care, then you are not going to survive.

The hospital is no longer and really for a very long time now, has not been the center of the healthcare universe.

Hospital executives can't seem to get out of the 70s and 80s mentality of build another patient bed tower. That will fix the problem. Instead, their response if they were providing any leadership at all, would be to the physicians, senior team and Board of Directors, let's find new and innovative, non-traditional ways to deliver care.

Infusion centers, retail clinics, pharmaceutical advances, free-standing surgery centers and diagnostic clinics, remote monitoring, home health care, sub-acute services, discharge management to prevent readmissions, medical device technological advances and many other services when taken together, have the potential to so significantly change the way that healthcare is delivered, it will make the hospital admission of today, a defect in the process of care tomorrow.

Does that mean hospitals will go away? No, there are limits to this concept of the hospital as a defect in the process of care such as surgical procedures that can only be performed in a hospital, and emergencies requiring an ER will always be needed. But the rest of it, maybe not.

Unless hospital executives and their marketing and planning departments start seeing the forest from the trees, just trying to survive is leading them away from innovation, opportunity and growth at a time when others, with non-traditional entrepreneurial backgrounds, will relegate the hospital to a place in the care continuum where an admission is a defect in the process of care.

So, are you still just trying to survive?

You can reach me at 815-293-1471.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Integrating Brand Messages Into Your Public and Media Relations

How much more effective would your marketing campaigns be if you made a conscious effort to frame your messaging in your Media Relations (MR) and Public Relations (PR) campaigns around the main brand messages you use in your marketing campaigns?

More often than not, brand messages in healthcare PR-MR rely on the "about us" statement to carry that weight. Little if any attention is given to using public and media relations as a strategic and integrative vehicle in the overall marketing effort.

And that is a missed opportunity.

As healthcare organizations, we are expected by our audiences to advertise, write white papers, create case studies, write impactful sales materials, partner with leading market research organizations to present "groundbreaking" topical surveys and results, as well as other materials. That is a given. People see and read, they (hopefully) advance the brand, maybe generate some sales leads or in some cases bring a sense of accomplishment to internal audiences because in the end, all of these materials are "about us". Activity measurement as opposed to outcomes measurement.

Now think. What is the value of these same messages being crafted in such a way through PR-MR to your organization? The more people say they don't believe what they read and see, the more that they believe what they read and see. A positive news story online, print or electronic carries with it a measure of credibility conferred by the publication, news organization or web content carrier that the story has some measure of truth and validity. Can't buy that in advertising, direct mail or contests.

PR-MR can be summed up by the following:

Presence Builds Preference


Perception- Leads to Opinion- Becomes Fact

PR-MR can provide you with a continuous brand presence in the market that you cannot afford through traditional or online paid efforts. It can successfully build positive impressions, solid opinions which after a while other companies and individuals will come to believe about your organization and, this is an important and... build relationships with the media and audiences that can be leveraged to your benefit in times of crisis.

In my experience, it is not uncommon to generate on an annual basis for small healthcare organizations $1 million plus in equivalent advertising through a PR-MR program. For larger companies, an aggressively planned and consistent PR-MR program generates $10s of millions of equivalent advertising dollars. Ask your Executive Suite for that kind of money for paid advertising in this or any economy and see what happens.

If you are not integrating your brand messaging into your PR-MR efforts, your losing the opportunity of a lifetime and potentially your markets.

PS. It's just not writing press releases.

If you need assistance or would like more information, you reach me directly at 815-293-1471.