Sunday, July 19, 2015

Divided confused markets? Healthcare provider marketing in a quandary?

I used quandary as the word choice in the title because providers are caught between two worlds, it’s still a fee-for-service environment shifting to fee-for-value and risk.  Two very different reimbursement models but both are having significant impact on utilization and revenue. 

Another quandary is the clamor in the market from government, employers, healthcare consumer and patient with the desire for price and outcome information to make informed decisions.  Then there is the whole experience and engagement that healthcare consumers are demanding in many ways mirroring the level of experience and engagement that they have with Amazon and others for example.

Faced with several seemingly contradictory market requirements and needs internally and externally, what is the healthcare marketer’s answer?

I propose to the healthcare provider marketer that in reality, these markets for one’s strategic marketing purposes to drive growth, revenue and appropriate utilization are not that dissimilar.  Especially in a market that is bifurcating where the need to drive fee-for-service utilization still makes the hospital a revenue center.  And this does not mean that two strategic marketing approaches need to be taken.

The healthcare consumer, is the healthcare consumer, is the healthcare consumer….

That is the focus, not the reimbursement model.

They don’t change because they are in a fee-for-service model/plan or a quality/risk model. That really impacts the provider’s revenue. The healthcare consumer/ patient still have to pay premiums.  Still has to pay deductibles and co-pays.  Still has to make choices such as selecting a narrow network or obtaining care in or out of network for example. In that regard the healthcare consumer will shell out of pocket over $300 billion in 2015 for premiums, deductibles and co-pays. They are paying attention.

In either model, provider marketing comes down to meeting the healthcare consumer and patient needs along four dimensions:  price; outcome; experience and engagement.  


As one designs the marketing strategy and key messages for the brand by fully understanding the retail healthcare consumer driven market, one can have the best of both words.  That is if there is a willingness to lead and stop the nonsense brand messaging of we are the best, look at our awards, have all the technological bells and whistles and we care more messaging that still goes on today.

If provider marketing began to focus the brand and marketing messages in these four dimensions now, while still in a fee-for-service environment they will accomplish several things.  Be the first in their market to do so and take the high ground with competitive positioning.  Secondly, everyone else becomes an also ran and me too, it’s called a Blue Ocean strategy. Third,   the needs expressed by the healthcare consumer and others are meet. Fourth, you have the momentum in a competitive retail medical, healthcare consumer driven market place. And lastly by doing this now, no need to spend great sums of money coming up with strategic campaigns along these four dimensions because you now have too.

This model of four dimensions for provider marketing can be effective in any kind of market, for any kind of reimbursement mechanism.  Especially as early indicators are that Bundles Payments may actually work better than ACOs.  Bundled Payments bring price certainty to the healthcare consumer.

Focus on the needs of the healthcare consumer and patient along the dimensions of price, outcome, experience and engagement to build the brand, drive revenue and growth in a healthcare world full of quandary.

To take a saying from Jake Poore, Founder and President of Integrated Loyalty Systems on patient experience, which I borrowed for provider healthcare marketing, “It’s really simple, but really hard”.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

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