Sunday, July 12, 2015

Is hospital control of healthcare an illusion from a marketing view?

Think for a moment using the lens of marketing, and ask what does a hospital or health system for that matter control? Do they control the insurers? No. They negotiate but do not control them. Do they control Medicare or Medicaid? No.  Do they control the independent physician whom they need to utilize the hospital inpatient, outpatient and emergency room facilities and services? No. Do they control the healthcare consumer in any manner? No.  Do they control patients at any other time when they are not in the system of care receiving some type of medical care?  I think that is a no as well. Do they even control the ability to stop deaths due to preventable medical errors?

Now for sake of the discussion, control could be viewed a too harsh a word. So maybe the better choice would be influence, but in many ways the answer would still be a resounding no from a marketing viewpoint. Especially in a buyer’s market beginning to exist today.

The emperor has no clothes and here is why.

In the four areas that ultimately impact the hospital or health system  ability to survive,  insurers- private and governmental, physicians, healthcare consumers and patients, with the velocity of the transformation  of healthcare to a retail medical environment replete with consumer choice,  demonstrates  that the hospital or health system has little, if any control or influence.   If there was control and influence, then providers would be proactive instead of reactive or even “circling the wagons” for that matter.

Now that being said, what if anything can be done?

It is clear that providers need to influence the choices and decisions of the healthcare consumer, patient, and physician.  And it doesn’t matter where the audiences are found be it in Exchanges, the community or in social media.  When faced with factors beyond one’s own control, it can be easy to take the viewpoint and action based on past solutions. Convincing oneself that the past actions to stay at the top of the food chain will continue to work going forward is a prescription for failure.  Familiarly breeds contempt in this case.

So how is influence in a turbulent market accomplished?

Reluctant to change but mandatory for survival and growth, the healthcare provider now needs to focus on these areas:



To achieve market influence, the sweet spot for the provider brand now sits at the intersection of the four areas. Notice too, that all four areas intersect with one another, posing additional challenges and opportunities. Everything is interrelated now and not isolated.

I fully realize that what I write about many times and the perspective I bring to critical issues of today is widely unpopular and not reflective of what the “thought leaders” are stating. So be it. I have never been about telling an organization what they want to hear.  I am about changing through strategic vision and leadership, where the healthcare organization needs to be to take advantage of the growth opportunities that are available. But that requires difficult and challenging change.

It starts with understanding the healthcare provider controls nothing in the market but has the opportunity to influence everything with a strong brand, brand promise and healthcare consumer/patient focus.

Successful market influence in a buyer’s market falls along four dimensions.  If one believes that they have or can maintain control, have it for control in a buyer’s market is an illusion.

Join me in Healthcare Marketers For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group. 

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