Friday, December 26, 2014

Top 15 posts from Healthcare Marketing Matters in 2014

With the New Year approaching and many on vacation, I thought that I would look back over the last year of Healthcare Marketing Matters (HMM), which led to my own top 15 for 2014 based on page views.   Healthcare changes so quickly now it seems like yesterdays thoughts are ancient history.  But more often than not, those strategic writings show how valuable healthcare marketing can be in a time of great change.

A major milestone was crossed when Healthcare Marketing Matters passed the 200,000 pages viewed mark.  HMM continues to be read in 52 counties and in order of the most readership: United States; United Kingdom; France; India; Russia; Canada; Germany; Norway, China;  and Indonesia.  Average page views are over 5,000 per month.

 With that in mind, here are the top 15 posts from 2014 in Healthcare Marketing Matters. Thank you for reading. I know I am looking forward to another exciting year of change in 2015 as healthcare becomes more retail focused, and consumer friendly then it was on 2014. After all, it’s an evolution that is gaining increasing velocity and way past the tipping point for slowing down or stopping.

Happy New year everyone.  Best wishes for a prosperous 2015. 

Top 15 Healthcare Marketing Matters Post 2014
1.       How can healthcare marketing become a blue ocean strategy?

2.       Can social media drive healthcare consumers to the hospital?

3.       Is social media in hospitals easy?

4.       What don’t hospitals get about social media?

5.       Is retail healthcare all about the price? And can the hospital compete?

6.       Social media, hospitals and Facebook, a place to engage consumers?

7.       Should healthcare providers change marketing in an era of reform?

8.       Will healthcare marketing change with big data availability?

9.       Is patient experience management more than a single touch point focus?

10.   Is story telling the new healthcare marketing?

11.   How can the hospital dominate the five healthcare markets?

12.   Can Google Glass improve the patient experience?

13.   Is it time for hospital advertising to change?

14.   Is healthcare consumer and patient engagement all of the time the new reality?

15.   What happens when social media goes awry?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Have you made your healthcare marketing resolutions for 2015?

New Year's Resolutions can play a part in most everyone's life to foster positive and maybe lasting change.  To lose weight. To live life more fully. Be a better husband, wife, or significant other etc.   And many more that I have missed. But have you ever considered New Year Resolutions as a part of your business and managerial life? 

In grand anticipation of 2015, and the potential it holds for taking healthcare marketing in hospitals and health systems to the next level, consider if you will some resolutions for 2015. 

In the spirit of David Letterman here goes:

Top 10 Healthcare Marketing Resolutions for 2015

10.  Focus on innovatively meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer. Through market research drive programmatic and service delivery changes

9.  Learn from the healthcare retail giants like Walgreens, CVS Caremark and others. Healthcare continues to evolve into a semi-retail market and what has worked in the past won’t work anymore.

8.  Marry price to outcomes and be transparent to the healthcare consumer. Provide and prove value.

7.  Integrate traditional, online and social marketing strategies. All are complementary to one another and drive multiple successes.

6.  Lead!

5.  Be a marketing thought leader- in the organization and to external peers.

4.  Focus on marketing accountability, resource utilization efficiency and effectiveness. Use the data to demonstrate ROI. If it doesn’t work then stop doing it.

3. Stop using the words "unique", "state-of-the-art", and anything that is considered “buzz word" terminology in marketing communications.  Unique can be duplicated easily. State-of-the-art refers to yesterday's systems as things change so fast. Buzz words quickly fall out of favor.

2.  Bridge the divide between clinical, operations and marketing.

1.  Serve and be humble, for working in healthcare is a privilege, not a right.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Best wishes for a prosperous year in 2015.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

What’s going to happen in 2015 with and to healthcare marketing?

That time of the year is upon us where predictions of things to come become all the rage. Prognostications, crystal balls, and ominous calls for the end of the world as we know it will continue to some degree.  

Continuation of hospital bankruptcies and closures, mergers, affiliations, disruptive innovations, healthcare consumerism, mHealth, and entrants of non- traditional healthcare providers, will continue unabated pushing hospitals and health system further down the food chain, threatening their very survival.

Okay, so I was just Captain Obvious and that’s what we all know the future holds. Now that being said, these trend continuations from 2014 don’t necessarily mean that hospitals and health systems will adapt. 

Will healthcare marketing in 2015 really be any different than the last 30 years? Probably not, but to survive the changes coming in 2015, that will only increase in velocity and intensity,  there are strategies and tactics that  healthcare marketing need to  embrace for growth and survival, by leading change in their respective healthcare enterprises.

Remember that growth is good. If the healthcare enterprise is not growing but circling the wagons, like so many do, then last one out turn the lights off. Here the trends and challenges as I see them for 2015 in healthcare marketing.

1.     Healthcare consumerism.  That means brand positioning, experience, consumer health needs, price and quality transparency is the answer. It’s the only way to respond should the healthcare enterprise desire growth and success.
2.     Retail medicine.  That has taken a major turn with the introduction of some basic primary care services beyond the sore throat, cold or flu. Especially with a tele-health presence, physicians are now able to consult real time. It is more convenient to the healthcare consumer, faster and cheaper then hospital based services. From a market perspective, the healthcare enterprise needs to respond in the same fashion by making the services of the healthcare enterprise more desirable, priced appropriately and consumer need focused than hospital focused. Beat Walgreens and others at their own game.
3.     Social media. Its use will accelerate and grow in influence during the healthcare consumer selection process. At a minimum Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Instagram are the vehicles of choice for the novice organization. One to engage and dialogue. One to enhance the experience. One to mange reputation. One to tell a visual story.
4.     Price wars. They are coming considering that the healthcare consumer now pays one-third of the cost of care. Look for opportunities to lower prices and provide better care as a loss leader, for the more costly and profitable healthcare enterprise services. Capture the healthcare consumer by engagement, build the relationship and drive loyalty.
5.     Content marketing. The story is important and it’s how you influence the influencers. In markets that are undifferentiated, it’s the way to differentiate not on clinical programs and services which all competitors have but on the story.  The story is different from all others and can be used efficiently and effectively to drive engagement, awareness and choice. Content that is changed timely, appropriate and fresh. Content is not some of the time, but all of the time.
6.     Innovation. Non-traditional entrants into the market will drive further change the cost and delivery of healthcare services, placing the healthcare enterprise at a competitive disadvantage.  The only way to anticipate that is using market research to discover and understanding the unmet needs of the healthcare consumer. Then design the offerings at competitive prices, convenient and engaging before someone else does.  That means changing the business development aspect from an internal inwardly focused process to an external market focus.
7.     Redistribution of marketing resources. Resource will move from traditional print and electronic, to online with native advertising, social media platforms, email, and blogging and to mobile. That is where the audience is.
8.     MHealth.  Consumers love it. Providers generally hate it. Venture capital private equity firms are pouring billions into it.  Look for more innovation and acceptance that will drive the healthcare consumer further from the hospitals and hospital based services.   Healthcare enterprises will get on the bandwagon, hopefully before it’s too late in their markets.
9.    Healthcare consumer engagement will move beyond emails, wellness programs of little value and repeating what the healthcare enterprise has always done, to dialogue and exchange of information in a manner and method that the healthcare consumer desires. 
10.  Focus on growth.  This isn’t the build it and they will come growth, but growth that is  based relationships, manages experience and expectations and manages the demands of the healthcare consumer to the right setting of care, at the right time, for the right cost.

These are what I see as the 10 most important healthcare marketing changes and challenges for 2015. 

One may notice that the lines are blurring from what can be viewed traditionally as a healthcare enterprise operational focus, to a market driven focus. And that is the biggest marketing challenge.

Funny how that happens in a consumer driven semi-retail healthcare market. Best of luck.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

What about moving healthcare marketing to social media, SEO & content marketing?

It’s well documented that the healthcare consumer’s use of online, mobile and social media, has been steadily increasing for a few years now. Even though the growth has been nearly exponential across all  age groups in adaption and use of the new channels, hospitals have slowly adapted to effective utilization of the new marketing channels.  Back in 2010, the American Hospital Association found that only 21 percent of hospitals were using social media in some form, most notably Facebook and Twitter.  

In a recent report by Griffis HM, Kilaru AS, Werner RM, Asch DA, Hershey JC, Hill S, Ha YP, Sellers A, Mahoney K, Merchant RM, Use of Social Media Across US Hospitals: Descriptive Analysis of Adoption and Utilization J Med Internet Res 2014 it was found that 50.4 percent of hospitals were using social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Yelp.  Slow adoption at best, finding that 41.6 percent of hospitals still do not have a social media presence in 2014 is concerning.

So let’s expand the discussion to include SEO and content marketing, as well as shifting marketing resources and focus from traditional marketing channels of print, broadcast, billboard etc., to social media, SEO and content marketing.  In the simplest of terms, it’s all about being where the audience can be found.

Think of it this way:

Taking this a step further, these channels are living, breathing entities.  They have staying power in the market environment, and provide a consistent presence for the healthcare enterprise to be easily found, tell the brand story, engage, influence choice, as well as manage experience.  Can one realistically accomplish this with just a focus on traditional marketing with a sprinkling of social media? Now that being said, I am not throwing traditional marketing under the bus. There is still a place for those marketing channels.

This isn’t innovative thought. It’s really about the exercise of marketing leadership in hospitals and health systems, and leading change.  As written before, healthcare is changing from a provider- dominated build it and they will come model, to a semi-retail healthcare consumer choice model influenced by price, convenience and experience. Those healthcare consumer needs and ways to reach them are being increasingly dominated by non-traditional entrants into healthcare, further pushing the hospital to the bottom of the food chain.

If I were a Vice President of Marketing in a hospital or health system, 60 percent of my direct spend would be on SEO, social media and content marketing. And the staff of the marketing department would reflect the skills and expertise to carry out the tactical execution of that strategy.

Grow the healthcare enterprise brand and revenue through social media, SEO and content marketing.  Growth is good.