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.
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.
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.