Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How Will You Market Your ACO Solution?

Now that the final rules for ACOs have been released by CMS, it seems that there is more positive interest in the ACO model first proposed under PPACA. The basic premise remains the same, to engage the patient, aka the healthcare consumer, in the care and treatment decision making process. Medicare ACOs remain open networks, meaning that members can go outside the ACO for service.

The marketing challenge before you is to attract members to your ACO, engage and retain them.

You must be prepared to deliver an individualized experience that meets the needs of that patient. A mass customization, of your patient experience process, down to the individual level. One size does not fit all.

In entering the brave new world of ACOs, here are some things that you need to consider for marketing:

1.) Clear and easily stated Value Proposition. Not a mission statement, this is crucial for communications and focusing the message to members, employers, payers, government and community. Not flowery or full of jargon. It's your elevator speech that can be delivered in 30 seconds about your ACO, what you do and the value it brings. Twenty-five words max.

2.) Transparency and Quality dashboards. This is about improving care, using best practices, learning and improving as a system to the individual level, and by engaging the patient. If you do not plan to report back on at least a quarterly basis to your audiences, you will not be successful. You must be prepared to provide individual level utilization and quality patient reports, to engage the person in a meaningful way, to create change health behaviors, foster appropriate utilization of services and reduce costs.

3.) Voice of the Customer (VoC) program. You gave to be in constant contact and monitoring member attitudes, beliefs and reactions to you. VoC. It's all part of the patient experience program and process. These are open networks, if you are not fully and completely customer focused, trouble will ensue and it won't be pretty,

4) Ongoing customer experience management program and process. This isn't just about delivering a exceptional customer service at the point of care. You must identify all customer touch-points, from beginning contact to end point, and mange that experience across all of those touch-points. Here is what a customer experience program looks like:

5.) Highly integrated marketing plans. You will need to integrate your messaging like never before across the traditional, online, mobile and social media platforms. You can't afford not too. You also need a presence in all platforms. One that is sustainable over time through dedicated marketing resource allocation. One shot ads won't work; develop sustainable, integrated campaigns.

6) Comprehensive member communications. Ongoing communications beyond health and wellness tips. Communications that are individualized, engage the patient and are meaningful. They must also be delivered the way that the member wants them, be it on an Ipad, member web portal, email, hard copy etc. One size does not fit all.

7.) White pares and case studies. This is about transparency and quality that is data driven. It's about accountability to your members, payers, employers and physicians. Medical device, pharma and specialty pharmacies have been engaged in white papers and case studies driven by data for years. And it works. But, it will make you uncomfortable if you have never engaged in this type of activity and communication vehicle .

8) Marketing leadership. Marketing especially in most, not all hospitals and health systems, needs to move from the basement and take its seat at the senior management table, reporting directly to the CEO.  Marketing now needs to be seen in hospitals and health systems as a defined, accountable strategy , that is fully integrated into the business plan. That doesn't happen if marketing is not present and engaged in the discussions at the highest possible level.

9.)Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI). In an ACO, there is just no doing things because someone wants them. Every action must be measureable against a defined goal and objective. Every action must have a call to action. Every action must evaluated against a predetermined ROMI. If you are not held accountable and your activities are not measured, then how will you know you were effective and produced result?. What gets measured get done.

10.) Marketing automation systems. Need I say more. Marketing needs these systems to understand markets, track activities and campaigns, as well as produce various marketing reports and dashboards. This really in concept, is no different than financial reporting, clinical reporting, quality reporting systems etc. Capital budgets will have to be allocated to marketing in order to automate marketing functions and planning.

11.) Marketing staff evaluation. This is probably the hardest activity, but few have the level of staff with the expertise and capability, to operate in an ACO environment. You don't know, what you don't know. Clayton Christensen understands and says, " ACOs are a disruptive business model and they must compete for consumers. Providers that are not accountable and transparent will lose, and those that meet patient needs and improve care will win." Your marketing staffing, organizational structures and resources will be to be changed and adjusted in order to meet new market conditions.

Is there more? Yes. But you have to start somewhere. Marketing can't be just an after-thought. Too much is at stake.

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