Sunday, December 22, 2013

Have you made your healthcare marketing resolutions for 2014?

New Year's Resolutions, for the most part, play an important role in most everyone's life.  To lose weight. Live life more fully. Be a better husband, wife, or significant other etc.  Value more what we have in our family and friends.  And many more that I have missed. But have you ever considered New Year' Resolutions as a part of your business and managerial life? 

So my last Healthcare Marketing Matters blog for 2013 is about New Year Marketing Resolutions.  My own Top 10 list to get things started.  What are yours?

10.  Focus on meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer aka the newly insured.

9.  Learn from the healthcare retail giants like Walgreens, CVS Caremark and others. Healthcare continues to evolve into a semi-retail market and what has worked in the past won’t work anymore.

8.  Marry price to outcomes and be transparent to the healthcare consumer. Prove value.

7.  Integrate traditional, online and social marketing strategies. All are complementary to one another and drive multiple successes.

6.  Innovate- again and again and again;

5.  Foster a spirit of and demand marketing excellence in the marketing department.  Good enough is not good enough.

4.  Focus on the data and show ROI. If it doesn’t work then stop doing it.

3. Stop using the words "unique", "state-of-the-art", and anything that is considered “buzz word" terminology in my marketing communications.  Unique can be duplicated easily. State-of-the-art refers to yesterday's systems as things change so fast. Buzz words quickly fall out of favor.

2.  Bridge the divide between sales and marketing.

1.  Serve and be humble, for working in healthcare is a privilege, not a right.

It’s been a most interesting year, HMM went over 5,000 page views a month and is now read in 52 countries around the world.  There was a lot of spirited discussion in LinkedIn groups about several of the posts. I fielded calls on various topics from Bloomberg Weekly, Reuters, Associated Press, Crain’s and Strategic Health Care Marketing (published December 2013).  It was all appreciated and fun.  But most of all thank you for reading, for that is what really makes doing this worthwhile. I am taking a couple of weeks off. See you in 2104.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Have a healthy, safe and prosperous year.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger read in over 52 countries worldwide.. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The great healthcare experiment; will consumers buy on value or price?

It’s the great healthcare experiment really when you stop and think about it.  Today, thousands of individuals are going to public and in some cases private exchanges to purchase health insurance for themselves and families. Different levels of plans, varied coverage’s, deductibles and copays with open or limited networks, drug benefits etc.

So the healthcare consumer is now making the grand choice. Will they choose value by what they perceive based on experience, relationship and no real outcomes data to make a rational decision to keep the doctors and hospitals in their network? Or, will the healthcare consumer now shopper for care, decide to choose by price and consider value as a given among all providers.

There probably at this point no definitive answer to the question. The signs are all around that healthcare is evolving to a semi-retail market.  And the decision now facing healthcare consumers of choosing healthcare via insurance by value or price will only accelerate change.

When an individual is facing a decision with multiple price options, they will exhibit consumeristic behaviors and shop on price when all else is perceived as equal.  And healthcare for all intent purposes, is the ultimate (and pardon my use of a sports analogy, just can’t help myself) example of league parity in the minds of consumers.   Seen one doctor, seen one hospital, and seen them all.  For years healthcare providers have offered up platitudes of world class care, best doctors, high tech, Centers of Excellence and so on, that value is totally undifferentiated. In the absence of information, markets like nature abhor a vacuum. Price fills the void.

Now that the barn door is open and no getting the horse back in, what can a healthcare provider do? No simple answer this time around. Healthcare consumerism is a new phenomenon in healthcare. To adjust to that seismic shift, the healthcare provider regardless of type will now need to get serious about brand, outcomes, value, experience and price.  Total transparency really.

Oh and one other thing, the conversation with the healthcare consumer and newly insured is going to have to change from just stating that we are the best, to here’s why we are the best and what you are the best at.  Can’t be great at everything and the healthcare consumer already knows.

This is going to be a struggle for most healthcare providers.  It will be as much about changing internally as externally.  Going from being in control of the process, to being subjected to the needs and wants of consumers on a value, quality and price basis is not an easy transition.  Some will make and others will fail.  That’s life. That’s the nature of markets.

Take a look at the marketing strategy and organizational readiness as well as the consultants that you hire. Are they telling you here is your best customer go forth and fill the beds, or are they preparing you to be a responsive healthcare consumer-centric organization in how you approach the market and win the confidence and dollars of the new healthcare consumer?

It’s the great experiment; healthcare choice purchased on value or price. Something tells me that price will win the day. The horses are out of the barn.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

How do you market the employed physician?

With dynamic changes taking place in the healthcare as it evolves to a semi-retail environment, employment of physicians is seen as central to the success of hospitals and health systems surviving in an era of reform.   A side note to physicians, I believe that there will always be independent practitioners, but that is a discussion for another day.   

With this new opportunity to reinvent, revitalize and recapture what previously before had been an adventure on the part of hospitals with mixed results, its time to discuss how one goes about marketing the employed physician.

It's easy to look at this and say we'll just do what we did in the past in promoting employed physicians and be done with it.  That is a dangerous mistake in the age of healthcare consumerism.  The newly insured are expecting to have some level of choice, are social media networked and will be controlling many of the purchase decisions where previously, the healthcare provider drove many of those decisions. 

What is needed is a new look at what you are doing and changing to meet the needs of the newly insured healthcare consumer.

With great change comes great opportunity.  That is if one is willing to embrace that change and find new ways of moving forward and creating value. 

Brand. Value. The Healthcare Consumers Choice.

Communicate very strongly how your brand and brand promise are associated with the employed physician.  Doesn't matter if he or she is in a Medical Office Building (MOB) you own, Accountable Care Organization (ACO) or Medical Home (MH) or a multispecialty group practice.  Bring your brand to the forefront and brand the doc to you. The physician represents the healthcare providers brand at an individual level.  Capitalize on that credibility transfer opportunity and leverage it.

Communicate the value that the employed physician brings to the community and the healthcare consumer.  Communicate the value that the doctor brings to the brand.  Stop talking at people, talk to them. Talk to them with compelling value driven reasons and stories as to why they should select that doctor, or even why they should even considering switching physicians. 

Stop wasting money putting ads in papers that expect people to take action simply because the doctor is on your medical staff. That treats the healthcare consumer like they are idiots.  They're not. They are demanding value and acknowledgement that they have a say in what's going on.  If you won't meet their needs they will go somewhere else.

The newly insured healthcare consumer is gaining market power as they reach into their pockets to pay those high deductibles and co-pays.  As the economic cost rises for the healthcare consumer, so does their attention to outcomes, quality, experience and price.

If you're not communicating brand, value and what's in it for them for selecting the employed physician, then you can put it in the bank that the healthcare consumer is will pass on by  and go where they perceive the value to be greatest for them in line with the price they are paying.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

How can service recovery impact the patient experience?

Mistakes happen; for as healthcare organizations we are only human. And those errors whether they are care or everyday decisions can impact the patient experience positively or negatively. So the question becomes do you recognize when service recovery is needed acting swiftly and decisively, or do you wait until there is a complaint and then act after it was already realized that an error occurred?

I think it’s a valid question from a marketing standpoint for several reasons. With the growth of social media and actively engaged adults, they have become the new paparazzi and can do wide spread reputational damage in literarily the blink of an eye.  Taking accountability and doing what is right improves the patient experience and satisfaction scores. And finally, when everyone is talking about what a high quality provider they are and to look no further, service recovery can positively impact brand by reinforcing the brand promise and brand message.

For example, I take 4,000mg daily of pharmaceutical grade fish oil to help me manage high triglycerides.  I am also in an auto ship program with omegavia. Lovaza is not on the drug formulary for my PBM so I worked with my physician to find a suitable replacement. Well in November I received two emails on the same day that my monthly supply has shipped. I thought that maybe an error had occurred and a duplicate email was sent out.  Sure enough the next day I received two separate shipments of my fish oil.

I contacted omegavia and talked to the off hours answering service and was told I would receive a call the next day. I also explained in the initial call that I wanted my December shipment suspended until January 2014.

The call did come the next day, but it wasn’t the please explain to us what happened call. The call was the customer service representative apologizing for the double shipment.  They were suspending my shipment in December and would resume in January 2014. Oh and that there was no charge for the second shipment because it was their error. Not only did I receive the call, but a confirmation email as well.

The omegavia service recovery effort was: timely; accurate, responsive, courteous; exceedingly satisfactory; improved the experience; and made me a customer evangelist.

And it does have a financial impact to the company in terms of the free months dose, the suspension of one month shipment, as well as shipping and handling costs of probably around $120 or so. I know it’s not a great amount of money in the grand scheme of things, but the point is there was no hesitation on their part to make it right.

The real kicker in all of this was when they told me that they were proactively working with their shipping department to understand the root cause of the process failure and understand how the double shipment resulted to fix the process.   Notice here that they did not throw anyone under the bus or say it was some unnamed person on the back office somewhere or a computer error. They owned up, realized the process had a built in error potential and saw this as an opportunity to improve.

Now when was the last time in a hospital or health system service recovery efforts did all of the above take place?

Please don’t go down the, “well this is pharma and retail and we are different argument”. Not really. While omegavia operates in healthcare retail environment, hospitals and health systems are moving to a semi-retail environment. In this  environment where the healthcare consumer with high deductible plans are paying higher premiums with significant out-of-pocket expenses,  they will be expecting more from providers in the service recovery effort and patient experience. It is no longer about what the hospital or health system wants do, it’s about making the healthcare consumer, aka the patient, a customer evangelist and that can only be done through the patient experience and a service recovery process that is second to none.

Repeat after me, service recovery and experience is about the healthcare consumer not the hospital or health system.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did not receive any kind of remuneration either in payment or in-kind gifts.  This post was about my experience and where I believe hospitals and health systems need to go in their service recovery efforts as part of the  patient experience management program.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Is your healthcare marketing driven by HIPPO?

I saw something the other day that really commanded my attention.  It raised that old question related to marketing effectiveness and efficiency.  Is your marketing regardless of the type of industry, driven by HIPPO?

Sounds interesting you say? What is this marketing by HIPPO?  Get ready because you may not like the answer.

HIPPO = Highest Internally Paid Person’s Opinion

And the marketing that I witnessed drove this point home. And the not so funny thing about it is that the marketing department will be blamed for the nonsense when really, the question should be was it a bad decision and performance by marketing, or was this driven in a large extent by a highest paid person’s opinion. 

That happens a lot in healthcare.  No marketing science, no qualitative understanding of markets, just opinion, hearsay and flavor of the day from reading an article or seeing a competitor’s advertisement. No primary or secondary market research or understanding customer needs except in the most superficial level. One maybe two people say something and then it’s the whole universe acts that way.  I am the highest internally paid person here, so go do this. A competitor does this, so you do this. I have made up my mind because I believe this to be true and I am the insert title here- CEO - EVP – VP, etc.
 
Do you work in a HIPPO marketing organization? Be honest now.

The characteristics of such an organization are as follows:  larger than life executive egos (big fish in a little pond); lack of sustained adherence to mission, vision and values beyond executive decree; short attention span due to constantly shifting plans and priorities; the inability to execute operationally; constant crisis and chaos; and adherence to that “this is the way we have always done it so way we are doing it that way”.  Or what I call slavery to the past because I say so.

As we continue on with HIPPO characteristics: communication is poor interdepartmentally;  marketing is seen as doing “stuff”;  and the best one of all - proposed marketing solutions are seen an “elegant” and not as the right way to build revenue and brand because they aren’t expedient.  It’s all about the HIPPO and what they believe regardless of any lack of foundation in reality.

In today’s world of lightning fast change, social media and the growing power of the healthcare consumer with more of an economic stake, you can’t afford ineffective and inefficient healthcare marketing.  That doesn’t build a strong brand. That doesn’t provide you with a competitive advantage. And most importantly, it doesn’t engage the healthcare consumer in any meaningful way.

HIPPO healthcare marketing is a prescription for failure.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

And how will you be paying for your care?


Seems like an innocuous question/statement.  But it’s a question that can be fraught with staff unease, unexpected healthcare consumer resentment, missed opportunity and bad PR if it is not handled correctly.
It’s not a question of whether not you should ask that question as a healthcare provider. No margin, no mission.  There are very appropriate reasons for asking, and includes walking a fine line with tax exempt status and the legal requirement of caring for all who come through the doors seeking medical treatment. The real question is how is the organization preparing to engage the newly insured, current patients and the healthcare consumer making choices in which healthcare providers to engage?

How one handles the question goes beyond staff training, scripting and role playing. The conversation and ask begins well before anyone ever sets foot in door of the healthcare provider. It may be that the healthcare provider has lost the potential advantage in securing the high ground in this part of the healthcare reform equation.
Individuals and families are selecting high deductible plans to reduce their premium costs. Employers are going to defined contributions, creating private exchanges, increasing employee contributions for not only the cost of insurance, but the deducible and co-pays as well.  And even the newly insured that could be eligible for the expanded Medicaid programs will still have to meet spend down requirements of the Medicaid program before full coverage will kick in. Just because the program is expanded for initial eligibility requirements doesn’t mean in the least that the base regulations of the program have changed.

Several months ago I wrote about the opportunity in the market place that healthcare providers had in educating the healthcare consumer abut exchanges, plans and choices.  It was at that moment in time that those discussions could have begun with the process of the payment ask, connecting it to high deductible plans and general changes in how they will pay for healthcare. Little if any activity on the part of hospitals, health systems and other providers recognized the new dynamics and took marketing and PR steps to head off the coming challenges.
Now that the ship has sailed, how are you going to actively take control of the conversation and educate the healthcare consumer before they ever walk in the door seeking treatment? This is about setting realistic expectations in the context of experience as well as establishing the role and responsibility of the healthcare consumer in all of the discussions.

Easier said than done and we all know that.  But with all the issues around the exchanges and failures therein,  the news that people are selecting high deductible plans and the coming sticker shock because they really don’t understand what they are buying,  you have the chance to hit the reset button and start anew.
So instead of advertising those wellness bus tours, free gifts for a colonoscopy or even connecting with all those high quality physicians on staff without outcomes transparency in any of it, maybe it should be meaningfully engaging the healthcare consumer about the real cost of high deductible plans, prices, the value of the medical service and their accountability and portion of cost they will bear?

The risk is because as we all know, that the process for asking for payment after the fact or even when someone walks in the door and is sitting at the desk, is not going to go well and there will be human error.   As a tax exempt healthcare provider, you will be the evil greedy healthcare provider, and it's a perceptional battle that is unwinnable.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How will you explain pricing to healthcare consumers?

The eight hundred pound gorilla is in the room and it’s not going away any time soon if ever. With the newly insured, current and former patients and the healthcare consumer all facing increasingly larger out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare, how will you explain pricing?

Case in point. A couple of weeks ago I was exhibiting the signs of a heart attack. So after being sent to the ER by my primary physician, an EKG and blood work was done and after several hours I was admitted to the 23 hour observation unit. The other day I received the bill for $23,000 which works out to around $1,000 an hour.  And yes it was sent to my insurance carrier and I have my portion to pay. But there was no explanation of how those charges were determined.  Here is the bill; you owe; so pay it.

But it got me to thinking. I had no idea how the $23K was arrived at and whether or not that was representative of the most accurate value for the care received, especially when the total bill would buy a nice car for that type of money. I mean, a less than friendly radiologist, an arrogant hospitalist who was an internal medicine physician, and a cardiologist who seemed like he did not want to be there added to the wonder if it all. I especially liked being awakened at 12:30 PM for a saline IV that had to be started because a doctor ordered it.  My biggest chuckle was that I could not get a Tylenol for a headache, but there was a physicians order for morphine. Go figure. It’s probably a standard order set and no one is paying attention.
 
I wonder how many meals I was charged for since I only ate once because no one explained to me that I had to order each meal off a menu and never did have breakfast because of that little omission?

As healthcare evolves to a semi-retail model with the healthcare consumer aka the patient at the center of it all, explanation of pricing, what care and test were provided is no longer something that hospitals, health systems and other providers can afford to ignore.  Can you really imagine going to buy a large ticket item and not knowing all charges? And healthcare is a large ticket item.

This is a reasonable expectation for the healthcare consumer, to be able to know all that was done and how much it cost in detail.  The healthcare consumer is paying more out of my pocket. You can bet they want to look at billing by line item. And they really don’t have the time to chase down with your billing department the detail.

It’s called accountability and it’s a two way street.  Accountability on my part to understand the who, what and where of treatment, and accountability on your part to be price transparent. This will lead to some uncomfortable discussions with the healthcare consumer as they seek to understand it all, but that is why you have a marketing department. They need to be involved by understanding the informational needs of the healthcare consumer, design of the bills and training of staff to handle inquiries.

Healthcare is changing and the old ways of doing business no longer work.  Because if you don’t change billing practices and become more price and treatment transparent, someone legislatively, or through the courts will force you too.

Its your choice on price transparency. Inform the healthcare consumer now, or inform them later when you are forced too. Either way it’s going to happen.

Now where is the address for the FTC and my Senator and Representatives?

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Why isn’t hospital advertising changing with the times?



I have to admit, this is a pet peeve of mine, disingenuous hospital advertising. In a day and age where healthcare is evolving to a consumer centric, semi-retail model, some hospital marketers and C-suite leadership continue to treat the healthcare consumer like they are incapable of making informed choices.

With the healthcare consumer having a higher cost stake in the process with larger deductibles and co-pays, your price, and outcomes data readily available, it would seem that the time for change has come.

Remember, when you are marketing to individuals, they don't become a patient until they receive a service from you.  So in one-third of the time in their interactions with you, the healthcare consumer is only a "patient" during diagnosis and treatment. Two-thirds of the time they are not patients, and most likely are arguing with your billing department about the charges.

Arguments aside, what should hospitals be advertising to create an unassailable market position, a strong brand, as well as an enlightened and informed consumer?  

Is it the "we are unique and world-class", best doctors, hundreds of locations, even though The Joint Commission was just there for a sentential event?

Our technology is state-of-the-art.  Never mind that a new technology was just introduced and you don't have it.

Another winner; we have the most shiny trophies and quality awards for several services. Oh, and even though we don't have a quality award for all services, if everybody else was as good as us message to go with it, “a 100,000 lives would be saved annually"! Really.

How about the ever present focus on the physicians with messaging about having the best primary care or specialists in the region that drones on about everything other than healthcare.  Prove it.  Maybe the healthcare consumer will take you seriously when you finally report Dr. Hodad and remove him from your medical staff.

I think, that pretty much for the most part, sums up the current state of hospital advertising.  And when several hospitals are staying all of these things at the same time in a market, do you really believe that the consumer is paying any attention at all, when there is so little differentiation,  it all looks like "me too" and just shouting for attention?

It makes the Board, senior management and physicians feel good, while your audience receives absolutely no information that will help them make some of the most critical choices and decisions in their life.

The time has come healthcare providers to provide meaningful information in the marketplace that will allow the healthcare consumer to become informed, educated and participatory in the care decision-making process. 

You should be transparent and talking about your outcomes and prices.  The healthcare consumer is hungry for information and searching the internet as well as other sources about you and how you perform. They are paying more of the cost. Demanding more say in what goes on. And don't like being treated like they are some small child who can't make a decision.

To use an often quoted metaphor, the wave of change is upon the hospital industry as we move from provider-dominated and controlled decision-making model, to a healthcare consumer and patient-directed, controlled model. 

Your choice so chose wisely, the future of your organizations depends on it.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Does your patient experience fail the test?

True story.  "Well, you can always bring her back to the hospital if she still has trouble breathing", said the home health care nurse sent from the hospital less than 2 hours after a patient had been discharged.  Oh, and did I tell you that her eye was infected, almost fell going to the bathroom in the hospital and informed the nurse, had slurred speech and could barley ambulate?  That patient had been cleared by all to be discharged from the hospital.

And then the family hears or sees an ad about all the wonderful quality care awards from third parties that they receive, and how many lives would be saved if everyone was as good as them.
What do you think the now healthcare consumer, formally the patient thought?

Countless times every day, the patient experience goes fails the test.  Big things and small things alike that take place in the healthcare encounter all add up to one patient experience, good or bad. 
When healthcare executives are surveyed, the majority say that customer/patient experience management is a critical business success factor along with patient safety and cost reduction.  But at the same time, the majority of healthcare CEOs admit that they really don't know where to start on successfully managing the experience.

Experience management is about changing the way you interact with the individual or family from start to finish.  Not just managing the experience at isolated points along the care continuum. It's not about just focusing on service recovery like something was wrong with a hotel stay.  Managing the experience requires a complete understanding of what the patients expectations are, not yours. Experience management is culturally and organizationally uncomfortable. And that is because it's not about you anymore.

So when the patient experience fails, your reputation, your brand and your future in a risk or value-based payment environment fails as well. And then there are those readmissions penalties you face when a patient like this comes back in less than 30 days.

You should see what's being said on facebook and in social media circles from others that chime about how bad their experience was at that particular hospital. Do you still think social media is nothing more than a billboard?

Yep, the chuckle factor is really high when those quality award ads are heard and seen.  Pay attention to the patient experience, and pay attention to the marketing. They are not separated, but closely related.

The newly insured healthcare consumer is paying close attention now. It costing them money, they have too.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Are you using social media marketing for an exceptional healthcare experience?


In the new world of healthcare where price, quality and a newly insured healthcare consumer is paying more out-of-pocket costs for healthcare, social media marketing represents an opportunity that can be used advantageously to meet healthcare consumers demands for a better experience.

Social media represents a great opportunity for establishing a one-on-one relationship with the patient, aka the healthcare consumer, directed by the healthcare organization that breaks from the pack, by creating a social media healthcare experience that is memorable, exceeding an individual or families experience and expectations.

Most healthcare organizations are still stumbling with using social media and the online experience to drive differentiation, meaningful information and experience. Think of this in terms of a channel of communications and engagement that meets the healthcare consumer on their terms but with your messaging.

In any case, when you look at your social media strategy and presence, does your social media experience:

Ø  Delight your customer?

Ø  Create sustainable differentiation?

Ø  Is adaptable to new opportunities?

Ø  Leverages your investment?

Ø  Deliver in every situation?

Ø  Connect with the newly insured?

Ø  Does it engage the healthcare consumer?

Ø  Provide answers or guidance looking for solutions to medical challenges?

Ø  Define experience, outcomes, price and value?

Or, is it just pushing out information that is that you have deemed valuable to you, but carries no relevant meaning for the healthcare consumer?  

This is the lens of criticality needed to objectively evaluate efforts.  If it's not doing these things, then chances are nil in delivering an exceptional social media experience. But for that matter, neither are your competitors. 

Make your social media presence not just "good enough" but exceptional.

On another note, my apologies for missing a post last week. I was out of town with my wife and daughter last weekend. Alex is a left-handed pitcher on a 16U a fastpitch softball college exposure team and we were in Des Moines, Iowa for the ASA 16U A Heartland Showcase Series College Exposure Tournament.   Saturday was playing for college coaches and scouts. Sunday was a single elimination tournament.  There were  27,16U A teams playing. We made it to the final four and a three way tie for 1st place because the final games were canceled due to rain. It was a good time.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

How do you market to the newly insured?

Here comes the newly insured. They are not in ACOs.  Some will have chosen high deductible plans.  Some have even chosen narrow networks to limit their premium cost.  Some of the newly insured will be in the expanded Medicaid program.  What we do know is that it will be a potpourri of ages, sex, income, health status, relationship status and education.  We know that there will be a lot of people who never had access to health insurance.

So how do you market to the newly insured, knowing that the probably haven’t seen a doctor in a few years? They most likely don’t have a primary care physician. And when they needed care as the uninsured, they most likely used Emergency Rooms as their primary source for medical care considering themselves to be ER frequent flyers.  They will be less healthy and in need of navigation though your healthcare system.   They can be a financial godsend to your hospital or a drain depending on their medical condition and source of payment.   
Because you waited until now to start marketing, the chance to establish a relationship with the newly insured prior to the opening of the HIX and that insurance purchase has been lost.  Now you have to compete. And telling the newly insured you have the best doctors and most caring staff is right out of the nineties and meaningless.

The healthcare market is changing and these people are paying out of pocket and they will be paying attention to price, quality and experience. So it is really along these three dimensions that you need to focus your integrated strategic marketing efforts.
Push the newly insured to the primary care doctor.  Pull the primary care doctor to the hospital.

Push the newly insured from the emergency room to free standing clinics and other less costly settings.
Engage the newly insured in meaningful ways along price, experience and quality.

Look out for Walgreens and CVS Caremark, Rite Aid and others whose retail clinic strategy is perfect for the newly insured, and will limit their out of pocket expenses better than you can.  Look out for the hospital or health system that will be the first in your market to engage the newly insured in meaningful ways along price, experience and quality.
The age of semi-retail healthcare is now beginning.  That means the healthcare consumer, aka the newly insured, have some leverage and bargaining power.  Meet their needs and establish a meaningful relationship on their terms, or keep doing what you have always done in marketing and watch them walk away.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Can patient experience and satisfaction drive healthcare marketing?

Patient experience and satisfaction is no longer a nice too have, but a got to have in the evolving consumer-centric healthcare market place.  Consumers are paying more out of pocket and when consumers pay more they expect more.  A better healthcare consumer and patient experience in the end means a more compliant patient pre and post treatment.  Higher level of service and medical process satisfaction brings the healthcare consumer back in a sea of providers who all offer the sameness. 

It is one of the primary drivers for a reason to return. And when all things are equal and undifferentiated, experience and satisfaction become a major determination of return and for their recommendations of you.

Difficult to achieve and tough to competitively beat once you have it, experience and satisfaction with your medical products, clinical services and processes regardless of the vertical, be it specialty pharmacy, medical device,  pharma, hospitals, doctors etc., will drive revenue.  Revenue from the standpoint of Pay-for-Performance (P4P) programs and volume from healthcare consumers aka patients, selecting you in a very commoditized and provider undifferentiated healthcare market place is at stake.

Not everyone will be in an ACO or risk-sharing agreements.  Some will choose narrow networks to save a buck on premium. Fee-for-service will still be around for awhile.  The opening of public insurance exchanges in October, 2013, Medicaid expansion in some states and the now becoming ever more popular the private insurance exchange where companies are moving to defined contribution (see Walgreens, Sears and others in recent times), means that you have a direct to consumer opportunity along very different dimensions then in the past.

The healthcare consumer of today will view your services as: value= f(cost, quality, satisfaction) as compared to the near past where value= f(cost, quality). Value as described by the healthcare consumer here is the result of the function of cost, quality and satisfaction with you.

Why is it important:
  • High levels of experience and satisfaction are a powerful differentiator in your market.
  • Done correctly, your experience improvement and satisfaction program becomes the ongoing Voice of the Customer (VoC) program to drive real organizational change.
  •  It is a strategic and tactical edge for your brand and your marketing communication efforts. 
  • Think customer evangelization.
  • Think of the power of a high-quality experience and exemplary satisfaction and what that can do for your organization. Think of what it can do in your effort to differentiate.
The choice is yours.  Make it before others make it for you.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on  facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn and  Twitter.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The media is calling; how do you respond to PR crisis?

Sometimes, another organizations PR missteps are an opportunity to learn how not to handle a PR crisis.  Just ask the any of the hospitals and health systems that have been in the media the past few weeks with HIPAA violations for data beaches. And what I have seen from the healthcare consumer side in the coverage and their responses have been arrogance, apathy and really stupid responses by senior management.

I mean really, “We had a panic button and security camera.”  Does it matter in your response that the theft happened after hours?  Or the, “We had 60 days under the law before we had to report it.”  How do you think the public reads that answer of hiding behind regulations when their personal data is at stake?

In an age of healthcare model evolution from provider-dominated models of decision making to consumer-directed models, those bygone days of being able to mismanage a PR crisis and response and get away with it are gone.

Is your response to dive for under the desk? Do you send out poorly prepared underlings, to face reporters and the public? Does leadership, make proud pronouncements at the outset, that could come back to haunt you because at this point, you just don't know?   Do you react as an arrogant organization with the, "How dare you question us response"?   Do you think that it can never happen to you? Do you have a crisis communications plan in place?

Every healthcare organization will face a PR crisis. How you handle the communications, will determine the amount of brand damage and length of time people remember, the good and the bad.  In this age of social media and the Internet, there are no, "We just need to wait 3 days to weather the storm", anymore.

Many times organizations respond with:

·         Lack of organizational understanding of the need to handle a situation as crisis communications;
·         Different, conflicting senior management messages;
·         Testy responses to questions;
·         Lack of preparation by speakers in understanding the seriousness of the communication;
·         Poor speaker body language;
·         No overriding organizational message;
·         Organizational arrogance;
·         Lost messaging opportunity;
·         Appearance of blaming others;
·         The organization appearing not accountable;
·         The organization furthering to anger the media;
·         No response at all with the "it's just a three day story and will go away";
·         Sending out unprepared underlings to face the media;

Is it not true that any press is good press!  Every day, someone somewhere faces a crisis communications issue which is poorly handled.

By following these planning guides, you can weather any storm, limit reputation, revenue and ultimately brand image damage:

·         Understand the nature of the situation;
·         Be transparent;
·         Be proactive in how you intend to address the situation;.
·         Limit the amount of time senior leaders i.e. the CEO or president speak;
·         Make sure everyone has the same message and is on board;
·         Develop strong organizational messaging of care and concern;
·         Don’t scapegoat, blame others or give the appearance of blaming others;
·         Don’t tell people things will change when things are not changing;
·         Practice, practice, practice;
·         Bring in an outside PR firm for another viewpoint;
·         Understand that your reputation is built up over a long time and can be destroyed in a few short minutes;
·         Remember that it is not just a three day story;
·         Watch your body language;
·         Know your facts about past performance, reporters will be prepared;
·         Learn from others;
·         Each year engage in a day of media training for executives. Dealing with the media is a learned skill that the majority of executives do not have.  It is not as easy as it looks.

Most importantly, engage the media all the time all year round not just when you have a problem.  By establishing positive media relations with the good you do, you won't necessarily be cut any slack in a bad situation, but you will get the opportunity to tell your side.  You won't if you don't have good media relations already in place.

Plan now for that crisis communications event, and you will better off as a prepared healthcare organization.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on  facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn and  Twitter.