Friday, January 13, 2012

Is it time to tell consumers how they can afford your healthcare services?

Two reports came out this week. One about the slow growth of healthcare costs. The other, that people are delaying treatment, not filling prescriptions, nor taking meds etc., for a variety of reasons. Some reasons for this include the economy, loss of employment and health insurance, more high deductible plans, employers moving to defined contribution and so on.

Volume is down. Revenue is down. Marketing scaled back in some cases, or increased, attempting to drive selection and utilization from people who just may not be that interested because simply, they can't afford it.

Don't take me wrong. You have to run marketing campaigns. The economy is slowly turning around and there is a lot of pent up healthcare demand. You have to maintain brand image and awareness. You have to maintain your position in the marketplace.

But, is messaging all the shiny new equipment and facilities, "best docs", awards etc., the way to entice selection, leading to volume and revenue increases?

I don't think so.

If your audience has no interest in you because they can't afford it, then maybe you need to adjust your messaging. Become creative in communicating how people can afford your healthcare services.

That doesn't mean advertising and campaigning that you have all these charity care programs, (it may help you with your State's Attorney General and legislatures hot buttons regarding hospital charity care expenditures) but by being creative and developing alternatives so that individuals can become your healthcare consumer.

Take a look at Walgreens, CVSCaremark and Rite Aid on how they are tackling this issue. Let's get past shall we, the "well, they are drug stores pushing pills so it's different" argument. The point is, is that they have seen the challenges in the marketplace that healthcare consumers are having. They have responded with affordable healthcare solutions. And it's not only pills, it's physical exams, some tests and vaccinations. Specialty pharmacies have answered the bell. So have pharmaceutical manufacturers and others.

As healthcare providers, you need to start messaging solutions to the healthcare consumers health issues. You need to change your focus and attention from the here we are doing great things, to here we are and this is how you can afford these great things. That means new programs, new services, all focused around convenience, assistance with the cost and affordability issues, coupled with real demonstrated quality.

If you want to stop "surviving" and grow revenue and volume, you have to provide affordable healthcare solutions. It's like the old marketing lesson and question about railroads. Are you in the railroad business or the transportation business? Same for hospitals and others. Are you in the hospital business, or the healthcare business? You can't say you're in the healthcare business and only message about the hospital etc.

Today's healthcare market demands that you understand the needs of your consumers and develop those services and programs that allow them to afford you.

Do it now and you will have a customer for life.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments: