With the healthcare consumer having a higher cost stake in healthcare choices with larger deductibles and co-pays, combined with the availability of price and outcomes data; it would seem that the time for change has come.
If one was to look at healthcare consumer in terms of interaction with the brand, only one-third of the time is spent as a patient during diagnosis and treatment. Two-thirds of the time they are healthcare consumers making choices and decision about where to receive care.
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", have best doctors and locations that are accessible and convenient?
Then there is the ever popular, the technology is state-of-the-art, photo of the shiny new building or the doctor looking skyward like they are in great deep thought.
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, “100,000 lives would be saved annually".
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, does anyone 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, all the 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.
The hospital or health system should be transparent and talking about 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 and demanding more say in the process. And they 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, that is evolving into a semi-retail environment.
Changing markets unless responded too can be a harsh mistress.