Sunday, October 5, 2014

Left behind in the engagement of healthcare consumer’s and patients by Walgreens and Facebook?

Late this past week two announcements were made that received little notice, but will have significant effect on how the healthcare consumer and patients will be engaged.  Not only that, but these two market behemoths are once again taking the lead in being innovative, and setting new levels of engagement that will create an  enhanced  healthcare  consumer  experience and expectations for service that the hospital or health system will need to reach.

I think what was interesting about these two events, was how one was seen in two different lights. First comes along Walgreens announcing its partnership with WebMD, Walgreen, WebMD partnership awards discounts for exercise Chicago Tribune, Friday Oct 3, 2014 and Walgreens, WebMD Partner on Wellness Coaching, Information Week also on Friday Oct 3, 2014. The second event was a Reuter’s story Exclusive: Facebook plots first steps into healthcare, Reuters  Friday Oct 3, 2014.

Now I am not going to get into a discussion of the economic value to both these organizations for recognizing a market trend, seeing an opportunity in a consumer need, or for innovating with an appropriate response. I think that is pretty obvious for all to see, or at least think through.

What I am writing about through the lens of healthcare marketing for hospitals and health systems is what to do.  This should be a wakeup call on the rapid evolution of the healthcare market place that is becoming highly innovative and consumer centric. All of which is being driven by nontraditional healthcare providers. At this pace, hospitals and health systems who are desperately attempting to get back to the top of the food chain are only being further left behind.

This is about the business of health care, not about the business of being a hospital or a health system. Its taking advantage of the movement  to personal health responsibility and finding new ways of  engaging the healthcare consumer,  by  giving them the experience they want on their terms, not somebody else’s.

Here is some food for thought.

Step 1. Stop thinking in terms of providing hospital care. Broaden the focus and vision to the delivery of health care in whatever form that means.

Step 2. Do the market research about what the healthcare consumer and patient in the market want.  Remember all healthcare is ultimately local, so who better than the existing hospital or health system in the area to meet their health care needs.

Step 3. This is about ultimate convenience to the healthcare consumer or patient, not the hospital or health system.  With all the extensive healthcare talent available in a hospital or health system,  there is no reason why one can’t do what Walgreens is doing. The trick for the hospital  is making it convenient and accessible for the healthcare consumer or patient.

Step 4. Explore nontraditional ways of accomplishing this feat. Maybe its entering into partnership with Walgreens or some other healthcare consumer focused nontraditional provider.

Step 5. Get your social media house in order. In a recent study by Deloitte, 43 percent of adults are using social media and switching freely between mobile and online to find information in the decision making process. This isn’t about bulletin boards and nice pictures anymore; this is about engagement and experience.

Step 6.  Start thinking about mHealth application development and how that can assist the hospital  or health system in engaging locally patients, the healthcare consumer and using mHealth to improve the experience and manage expectations.

Step 7.  To develop the mHealth application for the hospital, call the local university or community college.  Talk to the computer science information technology program Dean. I am sure they would welcome the idea of having a real life opportunity to have their students develop a mHealth application for the hospital or health system.

Remember it’s all about the healthcare consumer and health care today and into the future,  not hospital care.

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