Sunday, June 19, 2016

Seven Steps for Dominating the Five Healthcare Markets

Simplify your focus during these turbulent times and focus on five primary markets you need for success. Population health will come as will risk and value-based contracts as the tipping point away from fee-for-service draws closer. But, by having a laser-like focus today, will position the hospital or health system for a better tomorrow. The five markets are Commercial; Exchanges; Medicare; Medicaid; and Uninsured.

The new dynamic added to this change is the evolution of the broader healthcare market into a consumer-centric, semi-retail market existing in a multitude of reimbursement schemes, each nuanced for a different market segment. Leading to the question, have you identified from a marketing perspective immediate actions to improve market position and revenue generation? 

Don’t necessarily at this point think about massive advertising campaigns, gimmicks, wellness programs, etc. It’s more about getting the basics right, understanding who pays for what and how that matches with the needs of your healthcare consumers. Marketing today, is not only driving demand but managing demand by moving the health care consumer to the right setting, which may not be the hospital or a hospital-based outpatient service. In some circumstances, it may even mean de-marketing certain services.

Very quickly then, here are seven ways to improve your market position, generate revenue and dominate categories of service.

1.  Brand and competitive position.
Consumers and patients are ready for convenient technology-enabled access to care. Healthcare providers that are capable of identifying their needs and how they want their healthcare needs meet through technology focused on them will gain new patients and the next generation of physicians.  It's not a crime to use text messaging to send people information or confirmations about appointments, health reminders, or use QR codes to link to specific education or health offers.

2. Engage existing customers and patients.
An individual is only a patient 1/3rd of the time they come in contact with you.  That is during the diagnosis, treatment and recovery phase.  Pre and post this experience; they are a healthcare consumer, not a patient.  So why then is it the only time one chooses to engage meaningfully them is during the period when they are a patient?  This lack of focus or tactical engagement execution doesn’t make a lot of sense as a consumer, and patient engagement is about all of the time activity, not just some of the time.  Engaging the healthcare consumer on a continuous basis builds loyalty and importantly keeps them in the network, which has some pretty significant financial ramifications in a risk-based reimbursement model.

3. Engage the physicians.
No matter the payment model the hospital or health system still needs a doctor or physician extender’s order to get anything done in a healthcare setting. That means engaging physicians in meaningful ways, using the methods, technology, and systems that will make their life easier, improve their productivity and protect or increase their income. An effective and efficient physician has more to do with the impact of cost and quality in the hospital than any other factor.

4. Focus on the physician experience.
How hard is it for a doctor or physician extender to practice medicine in your organization?  Have you looked at the hassle factor that physician’s encounter when they try to get things done in the hospital setting?  Understand how the doctor experiences your organization at every touch-point they encounter the hospital. Follow their experiences overall from beginning to end, not just in an isolated segment. Fix what’s broken, keep what is working. The more satisfying the experience, the better you will do financially.

5. Focus on the consumer/patient experience.
A healthcare provider's ability to deliver an experience that sets it apart in the eyes of its patients and potential patients from its competitors - traditional and non-traditional - serves to increase their loyalty to the brand. Actively manage the customer experience in totality by understanding the patient’s point of view.  That is, all touch points internally and externally that a healthcare consumer/patient comes in contact with which in turn creates the experience. Exceptional experience means gains in market share, brand awareness, and revenue.

6. Embrace retail health care.
Traditional ways of delivering healthcare will go by the wayside in many cases.  Price convenience, access, and outcomes are the drivers.  Find the need, understand the consumer’s behavior controllers, design offering around the user, not the hospital in a convenient location and price it appropriately. If you can't compete in this way market position, share and revenue will erode.

7. Turn to social media and networks to engage, manage the experience and drive adherence. As the health care focus crystallizes around a healthy consumer making choices in a  semi-retail environment, social networks are an important marketing channel that is underutilized and underperforms today but holds great potential to improve engagement, experience, and adherence.

Seven step to achieve market and revenue growth in an evolving healthcare marketplace. Not an impossible task, but one that does require focus and a willingness to break from the past.

Michael is an internationally followed healthcare blogger, business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader. I am also HubSpot Academy- Email, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified.

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

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