Sunday, July 15, 2012

How can you successfully market your ACO?

Now that PPACA is the law of the land, private and public ACOs will be springing up like weeds in a field. It may really be the last best chance to bend the cost and quality curve of the American healthcare system which is unsustainable. After all, its now about the right care; at the right time; for the right cost; in the right care setting.

In the end though, the basic premise remains the same, to engage the patient, aka the healthcare consumer, in the care and treatment decision making process. The marketing challenge before you is to attract members to your ACO, engage and retain them with outcome and price transparency delivered with an exemplary customer/patient experience.

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

1.) Transparency and Quality dashboards. This is about improving care, using best practices, learning and improving as a system to the individual level, 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.

2.) 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,

3.) 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.

4.) 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.

5.) 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.

6.) 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 .

7.) 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.

8.)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 results. What gets measured get done.

9.) 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.

10.) 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.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.


Barbara Dickens said...

ACO's are springing up out of nowhere. However, I ask the long will they last? Let's face it, if they do ot make a profit, they will shut down.


Barbara Dickens, Account Executive-
Director Managed Care

Michael J. Krivich, FACHE, PCM said...

Actually, I thyink its a very interesting dynamic. The real questions is can hospital figure out the model of providing complete care and not just inpatient or outpatient care as well as linking care provided in the community into a single unfragmented approach. Doubtful at best, unless they make massive investments in technology, which some are doing like single-view patient record, HIE, analytics for population health, etc. If they don't its a financial loser.

In the end, I think the most successful ACOs will be those that are created by insurance companies partnering with doctors. Both alredy know how to coordinate care for complex and chronic medical conditions in and out of the hospital.