Saturday, January 25, 2014

How can healthcare marketing become a blue ocean strategy?

Simply put, a healthcare blue ocean marketing strategy is one where you redefine a market and dominate. By finding your blue ocean marketing strategy one can leap ahead of competitor's swimming in a blue ocean free of competition, instead of swimming in the bloody red ocean of undifferentiated services.

With healthcare moving to a semi-retail model where experience, price and quality transparency weigh heavily on the healthcare consumer with a  higher economic stake in care decisions, a healthcare provider at this time anyway, has the opportunity to break the mold and innovate along these dimensions and clearly differentiate in the market.

So how does this apply to healthcare marketing?

Healthcare is undifferentiated and for all practical purposes may be in danger of becoming a commodity where purchase decisions are made based on price, in this case the healthcare consumer’s out-of-pocket expense.  Hospitals, health systems, physicians and other providers have similar programs and services, have the same managed care contracts, share physicians etc., etc., etc, across multiple competitors. 

In an environment of multiple payments methods adding to the confusion from being paid for the production of care with the “heads-in-the-beds” to keep the healthcare consumer out of the hospital in the least expensive care setting, a blue ocean marketing strategy based on experience, price and quality transparency is just what the doctor ordered. Pun intended.

Now that being said, it is a tall order for an industry that has traditionally not been transparent regarding price and outcomes to make that change overnight.  But it is one of the few remaining changes that can provide a good head start on market dominance.  And in all honesty, whether or not survival is at stake, healthcare organizations need marketing innovation to change the competitive dynamics of the market.

The semi-retailization of healthcare is accelerating even more so now with the entrant of non-traditional providers who are competing on price, experience and access, which is a deadly combination for traditional healthcare providers who are slow to change.

Just because an organization packages the mouse trap differently than others, doesn’t mean it’s any different.

Developing what I call a blue ocean marketing strategy in truth stems from becoming a blue ocean strategy organization. Marketing leadership and marketing organizational transformation at its best and you have a formula for success. Be the blue ocean innovator and show healthcare marketing as proactive rather than reactive.


As the Disney character Dory in Finding Nemo says, “Keep swimming, keep swimming, keep swimming.”

2 comments:

Maureen Scullin said...

Michael, you're right, most hospitals are being reactive, rather than being proactive with their healthcare marketing. I think it will take a few months for many to put out the fires and start planning.

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