Saturday, February 22, 2014

What don’t hospitals get about social media?

When I was reading the February 2014 issue of Hospitals and Health Networks, I came across a gatefold insert Social Media What Your Hospital Should Know.  I found it mildly interesting and a superficial treatment of an important topic.  But beyond the simplistic steps provided at best , what struck me were the following statistics reported  in the gatefold for hospitals;  1,292 have a Facebook page; 1,090 use 4Square; Twitter comes in at 998;, 716 for YouTube; and only 209 blog. The source is listed as Health Care Social Media List,” Social Media Health Network, Mayo Clinic.

Really? Maybe it’s time for hospitals to get with the changes in the market.

I have written a lot about social media over the past few years. I guess it’s just falling on deaf ears.

A social media healthcare consumer engagement plan and platform isn’t a nice to have, or one to take a caviler attitude of “oh that’s nice”. Not having an active and engaging social media platform is costing revenue.  That’s right; lost revenue.  

Understand, 43 percent of healthcare consumer use social media for information gathering to make choices about which medical provider they will use. The healthcare consumer is also the new paparazzi and saying what is good and bad about the hospital.  And more often than not, it’s not good.

So what are the implications of not having an active and engaging social media program?

The healthcare brand is at risk. The organizational reputation is at risk. Utilization from revenue is at risk because the shift from production of care to risk and value based reimbursement will take time. The ability to attract high caliber employees is at risk. Patient engagement strategies are not as effective. The healthcare consumer’s experience suffers as well to name a few.

And the great lie in healthcare for not doing this is HIPAA.

It’s simple really; you do not put identifiable patient information on social media. End of the discussion. And if someone does, they are gone.  Period.   HIPAA does not preclude an organization from having an engaging and active social media program.

Social media is more than a marketing and communication channel. It’s about building relationships by engaging in a two-way conversation with the healthcare consumer, who at some point would generate revenue and for enhancing the experience. Social media can even assist in keeping a patient in network so you can decrease leakage.

I am not going to answer the question of  how to create a social media plan or platform that is fully integrated into the organizational marketing, engagement and experience plans. 

But if leadership is sitting back and asking that question, at least there is a glimmer of hope in beginning to understand they don’t know what they don’t know.  If leadership is not asking that question, then leadership is probably in a world of denial thinking he or she has the answers and knows all about social media
And to those in the second category I say, best of luck in surviving in what is evolving into a semi-retail, healthcare consumer driven market.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

How are you retaining and engaging the healthcare consumer?

The financial stakes have never been higher as healthcare change steamrolls along. There is the growing and choice confident healthcare consumer demanding price and quality data. Reimbursement declines in Medicare and Medicaid continue unabated. Then there is the shift from fee-for-service to risk-based payments and new care models appearing nearly every day resulting in inpatient utilization declines.

And all of this has the greatest effect on how an organization engages and retains in network the healthcare consumer across a wide variety of touch–points, encounters and channels.

You know the old adage, it costs five times as much to find a new customer than to keep an existing one. 

It is truly a new day in healthcare.  Patients are becoming highly informed consumers making purchase decisions based on price and at some point will be utilizing quality data in that process.    

So what does that mean for the healthcare provider?  Without strong healthcare consumer engagement and retention strategies, the financial ramifications of losing the healthcare consumer to other providers and seeking care outside of the network can be ruinous.

This means that one needs to understand the healthcare consumer as never before, anticipating their needs by being proactive in establishing a meaningful relationship with a consistent stream of two-way communication.

It is an opportunity to reinforce your key brand promise and messages.

It's an opportunity to create customer evangelists for your healthcare organization, which through word-of-mouth marketing will bring additional healthcare consumers and revenue.

Here are five items one should consider for proactively retaining and engaging the healthcare consumer:

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.  A provider must be prepared to provide individual level utilization and quality patient reports, to engage the person in a meaningful way to create change in health behaviors, and foster appropriate utilization of services in the right setting.

2.) Voice of the Customer (VoC) program.  One has to be in constant contact and monitoring member attitudes, beliefs and reactions.  It's all part of the patient experience program and process. Engagement and retention strategies are all based upon the needs of the healthcare consumer, not the organization.

3.) Understanding the ongoing customer experience management program and process.  This isn't just about delivering an exceptional customer service at the point of care. You must identify all customer touch-points, from beginning contact to end point, and manage that experience across all of those touch-points. 
4.)  Developing comprehensive member communications that are transparent, meaningful and drive engagement customized to the individual level. This is really ongoing communications beyond health and wellness tips. They must also be delivered the way that the member wants them, be it on an Ipad, member web portal, email, hard copy, direct mail, telephonic etc.  One size does not fit all.

5.) Engaging the healthcare consumer through social media. Social media methods in engaging and retaining the healthcare consumer as a customer are nearly immediate and regardless of age group or demographic characteristic are growing exponentially.  Failure to include the social media channel in the organizational engagement and retention strategy is well, inexcusable.

With so much on the plate of healthcare leadership in trying to survive, healthcare consumer retention and engagement can appear at the bottom of the list. Going forward in the brave new world of healthcare consumerism, it’s one of the new critical essential business mandates whether one realizes it or not. To engage and retain is to survive and grow.

Happy Birthday to Healthcare Marketing Matters! On February 17, 2007, I started writing Healthcare Marketing Matters blog, and it hardly seems like HMM should be seven years old. But it is with hundreds of post and tens  of thousands of page views, here’s to the next seven years.  Thank you for reading, commenting and working so hard day-in and day-out to make healthcare marketing more strategic and visionary.  

Saturday, February 8, 2014

How is healthcare consumerism changing provider marketing?

Technological and care delivery innovations, specialty pharmaceuticals, social media influences, data releases on price and quality, the healthcare consumer sending more out-of-pocket and exhibiting consumeristic behaviors in insurance choices and provider section, have come together to create the perfect storm.

How has this affected healthcare provider marketing?

It's a tough balancing act when an organization has never really marketed in an evolving semi-retail healthcare market, or communicated with the healthcare consumer in meaningful price and quality terms. Terms that grow your brand, build stronger customer connections and answers the question, what's in it for them?

So why should this be on leadership’s radar screen, as if there isn’t enough to worry about already?

I can give you five reasons why:

1. Retail medicine; 2. Price competition; 3. Newly Insured; 4.Consumer choice; 5. Social media.

These five market shifts are changing how healthcare organizations will do business. And if healthcare marketing is not changing, then what follows are the critical steps you need to take to leverage and move ahead to survive and thrive in an increasingly tough market.  

1. Market Research
Do the research on healthcare consumer behavior, what motivates them, how to communicate with them, how they make purchase decisions and price points they are willing to accept. Healthcare consumerism screams for market research. It's about the healthcare consumer, their needs, expectations, experience and engagement.  And thinking you know about them is not the same as having the quantitative date that knows them.

2. Business Savvy
Make the healthcare marketing department business savvy. Out with the marketing communications focus, and in with a data driven ROI marketing coupled with an understanding of finance, project management, and operations so that the marketing can be transformational. Going from saying "we care and provide world-class care" to building brand, engagement and experience as well as measuring that change in real terms requires a deep understanding  of the organization on many levels in order to be successful in the market.

3. Resource Commitment
Healthcare providers must resource marketing appropriately in capital and human terms in order to compete with retail medicine and pricing competition. Engage the healthcare consumer in a meaningful way and improve their experience. Build your brand and increase awareness. Presence builds preference. It cost money to accomplish market growth.

4. Agility
Be nimble. Be agile. Be quick.  Keep repeating that over and over again. Healthcare marketing needs to move from the tried and true to the exceptional, the innovative, the engaged and the motivational. One can't reach the healthcare consumer on an emotional level to make the right choices, treatment, lifestyle and purchase decisions in your favor unless you are sufficiently engaged.

5. Integration
Integrate your marketing plans deeply within the organization. The healthcare consumer is at the center of all that you do. Pay special attention to social media. Social media is not a billboard but an efficient and effective engagement strategy that enhances all the other marketing channels you use.

6. The multiplicity of markets and patient mechanisms
Not everyone will be in an ACO or a patient medical home. Not everyone will have employer sponsored insurance. Some won't have health insurance of any kind. Not everyone will be in expanded Medicaid programs.  Small business may decrease employee’s hours to not have provided health insurance.  Large employers are creating private HIXs and moving to defined contribution. Baby Boomers are demanding a healthcare experience the way they want. And retail medicine is here to stay and will expand.

That light at the end of the tunnel is healthcare consumerism and that Walgreens ACO has come to a location near you.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Can 2014 be the year of healthcare marketing ROI?

With the start of the Chinese New Year and it’s the Year of the Horse, why not make 2014 the year of healthcare marketing ROI? As we all face increasingly reduced marketing resources both human and capital in hospital, health systems and other providers, the only way I know to even begin to turn that around is by proving to the organization the Marketing Return on Investment or ROMI.

It’s not the impossible task. And it does involve a high degree of collaboration with the finance department.

Depending on the type of health care organization that one is employed by the measures will be different. For example, if the healthcare organization is sales drive, then measure the generation of Marketing Qualified Leads, Sales Accepted Leads, and based on that increases in the long and short term funnel compared to YOY. Any organization using email can measure click through rate, open rate, unsubscribed rates, open rate and downloads. For hospitals and health system if you have the right systems then you can pull integrated clinical and financial databases by campaign to calculate the ROMI.

Below is an example of an actual computation that I completed for a multi-hospital health system. Now that being said, I did have the good fortune to have an RN staffed call center which was used heavily in all campaigns.  And because the call center and finance systems were linked, once you have that name then you can track and determine the customer value, revenues generated and a return on investment ratio.

The method can be adapted to any campaign and provides you with the data fields and logical analysis you need.  This is not prohibited under HIPPA, so that is not a reason to say no can’t.

An analysis was undertaken to look at the ROMI of the Physician Referral Call Center. The analysis matched a database of call center name records for the period to financial records which had already been downloaded.  The analysis produced the following results:

*      9,102 call records were matched with utilization and financial data.
*      9,102 calls resulted in a total of 9,121 encounters in the ER, Inpatient and Outpatient categories of service.
*      751 encounters were ER
o   177 returning encounters
o   573 first time encounters
*      1,105 encounters were Inpatient
o    530 returning encounters
o    699 first time encounters
*      7,267 were Outpatient
o   2,014 returning encounters
o   5,253 first time encounters
*      Total charges for all encounters equaled $22,522,649
*      Charges for new encounters all services totaled $16,085,198 or 71 percent of the total charges
*      Average charge per ER encounter  $1,304
*      Average charge per  Inpatient encounter $13,581
*      Average charge per Outpatient encounter  $903
*      Gallup measures loyalty at 68 percent (would return for service) which means that for every 100 patients 32 would not return for care- therefore:
o   ED- 57 returning encounters captured that would not have returned
o   Inpatient – 170 returning encounters captured that would not have returned
o   Outpatient- 645 returning encounters captured that would not have returned
*      Incremental charges counted returning encounters not loyal
o   ER - $74,337
o   Inpatient- $2,308,851
o   Outpatient-  $582,505
o   Subtotal charges counted:  $2,965,693
*      Overall market share in primary and secondary service area is 14.53 percent. The number of first time encounters have utilized us above market presence is therefore:
o   ER 573 first time encounters,  83 not countered, 490 counted –
o   Inpatient – 699 first time encounters, 101 not counted,  598 counted
o   Outpatient – 5,253 first time encounters, 763 encounters not counted, 4,490 counted
*      Based on an overall market share of  14.5  percent the  incremental charges counted for new  encounters not because of market presence:
o   ER - $638,960
o   Inpatient – $8,121,438
o   Outpatient –  $4,054,470
*      Total Charges counted: $12,814,868
*      Discount from gross charges for Medicare, Medicaid, Managed Care, Bad Debt and Charity Care @ 65% is $8,326,644
*      Net Revenue:  $4,488,224
*      PRCC program costs:  $233,410
*      Net contribution:  $4,254,814
*      ROI 18.22:1

Let’s make 2104 the year of return on marketing investment in healthcare.