Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Stuck in the 80's, what should hospitals be advertising in 2015?

In 1958, McGraw-Hill Magazines published the award winning and now famous advertisement of “The Man in the Chair.” For those of you not familiar or had forgotten the advertisement, below is the ad.

Obviously this was aimed at the aimed at the B2B audience. But with the recent spate of meaningless healthcare advertisements appearing from hospitals and health systems, it might be time for the healthcare industry to take note of  "The Man in the Chair”, and apply those learning’s to the healthcare consumer. And from an editorial standpoint, there are any number of healthcare vendors that could use to learn this lesson as well.

For the life of me I really can’t figure out why it’s so difficult for the hospital industry to provide healthcare consumers with meaningful information in order to make a choice decision?  After all, the healthcare consumer now pays for one-third of the cost of care and will spend over $300 billion on health insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles in 2015. That is not chump change.

What really started this week’s rant  was the endless parade recently of the we care about you, trust us, we are the best, and we are healthy driven advertising.  Really, now what does all that that mean? Which speaking frankly is boring, looks the same across providers and ignores the healthcare consumers need and quest for information.

I realize that I am on a crusade here but the healthcare market has changed and this type of marketing is no longer acceptable. That is of course unless the hospital or health system is determined to become  part of the 30 percent of the hospital market that  will liquidate or be acquired over the next five years.

What should hospitals and health systems be advertising?

It’s really simple but terrifying at the same time. There are four areas to address in hospital campaigns aimed at building brand, awareness, revenue and market share.

Price. Outcome. Experience. Value.

It’s a new business model for hospital and health system operations and marketing.

Health care is evolving into a retail driven, consumer focused medical market and that means new approaches.  A new transparency based on price, outcome, experience and the value that the healthcare consumer receives. It’s not about logos, awards, vague claims or misleading advertisements. It is about being healthcare consumer focused and meeting their needs with usable, transparent, actionable information, not hospital centric messaging that makes the Board, physicians and senior management feel great.

The marketing and messaging needs to support the brand and brand message as well differentiating the hospital from competitors.  For the new market environment and healthcare business model, price, quality data, accessibility, convenience and testimonials is the new marketing currency. The healthcare consumer wants to be able to trust the hospital. The healthcare consumer wants to make a good decision.  Listen to what the healthcare consumer is asking for in the way of information from the hospital. Give information and solutions, not “trust me” promises and all encompassing claims.  No one believes it anymore.

Winning healthcare marketers are driving growth by increasing their precision, broadening their scope, reacting quickly and telling a better story.

Look at the “Man in the Chair” and replace that person with the healthcare consumer.  Those are eight very important questions to  be answered. Stop stating the obvious and telling people what they already expect to be taking place in an environment of healing. Tell them what they need to know.


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