Sunday, July 28, 2013

Are you prepared for a healthcare consumer centric market?

If you think because reform and the ACA that marketing is just an unnecessary expense, and you don’t need to invest resources, then you may be in for a rude awakening.

Healthcare is evolving from a provider-dominated market to a consumer-centric model and market. And that means how you have been marketing your healthcare organization won’t work in a semi-retail healthcare consumer-controlled market. 

Here are the five areas to focus on to survive the new reality:

1.       Brand. Your healthcare brand will take more of a front and center stage in the new healthcare environment.  It’s not just the logo or how displayed.  It’s now about what your brand stands for, your brand promise and how you deliver on that each and every day in every encounter. Do you even know what your brand promise is?

2.       Price Transparency.  Here it comes, and people are asking questions forcing you to become accountable.  And the answer is not silence, and hoping all the price noise will go away.  Long gone are the days of build it and they will come.  Also gone are the days when you could get way with talking about private rooms, internet access, or how you are such wonderful people because you care.  Patients, consumer’s, employers and others are demanding pricing information, and will be choosing based on price to limit their out-of-pocket expenses.  
      Quality is a nonissue. I say that because we as an industry have been shouting  without any measurable understandable proof for the healthcare consumer (beyond fancy award logos with no context around the content) that we have high quality. Okay says the healthcare consumer, quality is a nonissue since you all are the same because you say so, which means I can buy on price alone.

3.       Patient experience.  Still a top concern of senior leadership, patient experience across all touch-points needs to be improved. Not just the single clinical service un-integrated internal focus that most healthcare organizations take. Patient experience is about the totality of the experience, and only improving one aspect of that experience leaves you vulnerable in other areas. It’s also about market research in understanding ever detail and facet of that experience from the patient’s viewpoint, not yours. And that only comes from talking to your healthcare consumers.

4.       Patient engagement. Different than experience, engagement is about actually developing a meaningful relationship with your healthcare consumers to build loyalty, change health behaviors and keep them from going out of network in a risk-sharing arrangement like an ACO to receive care. How do you expect to engage patients when you still send information “To our neighbors at” direct mail?

5.       Outcomes Transparency. This is the only way that you can combat the price equation. People will pay more for higher quality, but it has to be proven. Outcomes transparency is the name of the game now.  It’s all out there already, becoming more available and easily understandable for the healthcare consumer every day. 

Repeat after me: Brand, outcomes, experience, engagement and price.  Miss on any of these and you’re an also ran in the market.

Well the fastpitch softball travel season is over. Last week (July 21-26, 2013) the 16U A Romeoville Starzz team that my daughter plays for participated in the USSSA 16U A Fastpitch World Series in Overland Park, KS. What a season for the Romeoville Starzz 16U A Fastpitch Softball team. Here are the final USSSA rankings for 2013: Region 3 (IL, IN, KY, MI, OH), 5th out of 150 teams; State of Illinois, 4th out of 60 teams; USSA Fastpitch World Series a top 20 finish at No. 17 of 62 teams. In the World Series we faced some of the nation’s top 10 teams and beat them or stayed close. Went 3-3-1 and the girls proved that they can play with anyone. Congratulations girls. Well done. Well done indeed.

Now back to the healthcare marketing story in progress.

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, Twitter, and Pheed.

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