Sunday, August 30, 2015

Is healthcare consumer & patient engagement an all-of-the-time the new reality?

As healthcare continues its rapid evolution into a far more accountable, cost effective, quality outcome and consumer driven model, it begs the question, is engagement now an all of the time a new reality? Secondary to that question is are healthcare providers prepared for that new marketing realty?

Like anything in life and business, some are but the majority is not.   But be that as it may, it would seem that healthcare consumer or patient engagement is not a part time or some of the time activity anymore of hit or miss activities.  On Facebook one day then gone for weeks at a time.  Sporadic outreach  and touch someone emails, calls, or even any changed content on the web site. No integrated marketing communications across multiple channels and platforms to drive engagement. 

What engagement should be viewed as is the opportunity to create, foster, and nourish a one-on-one relationship that is enduring with those individuals and families.  

What I would really like to know, is that if providers are not effectively engaging with the healthcare consumer or patient for that matter, how do you even think any population health initiative will be successful?  Talk all you want about populations and managing the same, the bottom line is it still comes down to the individual. And if the individual is not engaged, it all falls apart.

That is a scary proposition for some healthcare organizations. It means being accountable and responsible to those you serve and meeting their needs by delivering on the brand promises day in and day out.  I would also suggest that this extends to area employers as well.  Otherwise you will see more out-migration from your community for care because others can do it better, faster and more cost effectively and have effectively engaged the person.  

After all, healthcare is a $2.8 trillion dollars business and the competition from traditional and nontraditional providers will only get more intense. The healthcare consumers will spend in excess of $350 billion out-of-pocket for insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles in 2015.   Providers that can engage will become the go to destinations for healthcare that will not only survive the storm, but prosper as well.

Providers now live in a medical retail market.  Though others will tell you that it’s all about experience, that’s just cover for the old ways of doing business and telling you what you want to hear.  It’s now about four dimensions- , price, outcomes, engagement and experience.  Focusing only on experience with your marketing communications and campaigns is a prescription for failure.

So what to do?

Here are nine engagement strategies you need to employ:

1. Integrate your engagement solutions. That means information is delivered seamlessly so that the healthcare consumer can interact with you any way they want, when they want too. 

2.  Marketing should be using both push and pull messaging.  Messaging needs to be relevant to the audiences at the point in time it’s needed that is personalized, customized, and aware of the cultural heritage and influences tailored to them.

3. Incentives and motivational techniques will be needed to keep patient engaged. That doesn't mean cash. Look to the gaming industry for gaming technology and gaming prediction, for ways to engage without cash. Be creative.  Look outside healthcare for ideas, tools and techniques to engage. 

4. Create a sense of community.  You have to compete and one needs to feed the beast. The hospital has not yet tipped to being a cost center from a revenue center. That day will come but not for a while yet.  Get into the inner circle of the audience and become the trusted advisor. It's not just about loyalty. Shape the behaviors to the point where they will recommend unconditionally.

5. Know the audience and with whom one is speaking too. This is really back-to-basics CRM understanding the gender, age, integration of risk assessments, culture etc.  One cannot engage effectively   unless there is intimate knowledge about them, their needs and how to tailor the information they need to engage them.

6. Test and measure. This is no time to be reactive in approaching and engaging.  The only way to can figure out if it's working is to test and measure in a very methodical way.

7. Use technology.  We live in a world of technology and you need to run a multifaceted, highly integrated campaign. With social media, smartphones, web, text messaging, mobile messaging, etc., eighty percent of consumers want the option of interacting with a healthcare provider via their smartphones. Forty-one percent of healthcare consumers use social media to make provider choices.   The healthcare consumer and patient are inviting healthcare organizations to engage them and engage them all the time.

8. Know the influence of culture on behavior to engage.

9. Time it right, and add value.  If you health messaging is not resonating with the healthcare consumer or patient when they receive it, then one has lost them. Communicate relevant messages to a committed patient right before healthcare decisions are made. That means knowing the patient like have never before.

I do chuckle as a major health system that I have been going to for over 20 years has been boasting of a great CRM system for several years now. I for one,  nor any family member have ever been  engaged by the system hospital in any meaningful way. I know you, but you have no clue who I am.  And I can choose to go elsewhere because you know why, providers at the local level all the same.

That's why you engage all of the time. 

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