Sunday, March 1, 2015

Wait…What? Its healthcare consumer’s 1 & hospitals and health systems nil?

In another market development benefiting the healthcare consumer that can be seen as a small but important victory in cost transparency, an easy to use web site Guroo  was launchedGuroo, latest tool for healthcare price transparency, launches, Healthcare Finance News, February 26, 2015, is an easy to use web site for consumers that look at 78 common procedures, based on data from the Health Care Cost Institute database.

This was probably meet with ears covered and the sound of la, la, la, coming from hospital executives all over the country.  That is if they were paying attention. As the battle for cost transparency progresses, it’s now healthcare consumer 1, hospitals and health systems nil. 

There are pricing calculators from some of the payers, but you had to be a member and in their contracted networks. And few healthcare analytics companies have them for employer clients for their employees to use, but not released for the general public.  

I tried the web site and you know what?  It is easy to use; really easy to use. Now Guroo  won’t show one the cost for a particular hospital or doctor, but that is on the way.  There is no current indicator of the quality of the hospital procedure or doctor, but I would expect that will be a future enhancement as well.

There one has it, coming soon to a smartphone or desk top near you, usable cost and quality data.

Healthcare consumer 1 - hospitals and health systems nil.

There is no running away and hiding one’s head in the sand, hoping that those pesky healthcare consumers wanting price transparency and innovative entrepreneurs meeting those needs will go away anytime soon. 

Healthcare consumerism is here to stay, so one might as well get with the program and save some heartburn for other things the hospital or health system does not want to do.

So, what to do?

This requires a thoughtful marketing response on the part of the hospital or health system. And it’s not with the “well, we cost more because our patent are sicker and high quality cost money” traditional response which happen to be some of the great lies in healthcare.  The healthcare consumer and media don’t buy it any more anyway. That response does not back the patient- focused or consumer-focused claims one makes in advertising the healthcare enterprise either.

And for those that doubt the power of social media and why it’s important to the hospital and impacts the healthcare enterprise, let me illustrate.  In a few clicks of the mouse with a personal recommendation message, I shared the web site with Facebook friends, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections and followers, as well as Google + people. In a matter of a couple of minutes and a few mouse clicks, this information was shared with around 8,000 individuals. 

Now this blog post will be sent to the same number of people plus picking up additional readers who I am not connected with on social media.  Now all told, this message will have gone to over 21,000 people. I think one could see how the law of large numbers begins to apply as people share the information across their social media platforms.

In turn, it does require a careful and measured response from the hospital or health system.  If one starts developing an integrated and effective marketing and public relations campaign now, the scramble to respond to the market  later on will be avoided.

Knowledge is power for the healthcare consumer

It’s just a matter of time before someone comes in for a procedure, asks what the cost is and tries to barter for a lower cost. It will impact their deductible costs, especially if they are in a plan that is very high deductible.

This isn’t by any means the be all, or end all for healthcare consumer cost information. It’s early in its infancy but easy to use and clearly understandable.

The health care market is moving at breakneck speed in becoming a consumer centric business environment and model.  That means innovation, customer centricity, price, outcomes, convenience accessibility, waste elimination and responsiveness to the needs of the healthcare consumer is ruling the day.   Guroo takes change this one giant step further.

This development requires change and  it’s a choice to change or not.  But, in the next five years for hospitals by 2020, it is predicted that 25 percent will grow, 30 percent will be liquated or acquired and 45 percent will live on a razors edge just squeaking by until the next market disruption.  See Stagnation with a chance of decline: Healthcare’s 5 year forecast, Becker’s Hospital Review, February 20, 2015 by Emily Rappleye.

Always remember some wise words in this time of change:

"Keep in mind that you cannot control your own future. Your destiny is not in your hands; it is in the hands of the irrational consumer and society. The changes in their needs, desires, and demands will tell you where you must go. All this means that managers must themselves feel the pulse of change on a daily, continuous basis.... They should have intense curiosity, observe events, analyze trends, seek the clues of change, and translate those clues into opportunities."
— Michael J. Kami

Carpe Diem.

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