Monday, July 24, 2017

Patient Experience, Experience Touch-Points, and Hospital Marketing- Time to Connect the Dots?

In my quest to fundamentally change hospital marketing and make it more responsive to the needs of the insured consumer and physicians, hospital marketers are missing a valuable opportunity.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about major health systems marketing failure. So this post in a roundabout way continues that theme.  Which as an insured consumer using one of that systems hospitals for 22 years experienced a major marketing failure on their part due to lack of a CRM and understanding the data of who the customer is and how they use the system.

There are over 147 touch-points in an individual’s interaction with a hospital. That means that there are 147 instances of where the patient experience is influenced. Those 147 touch-points in the patient experience can also be marketing opportunities to get people to opt-in to various marketing activities and receiving emails.

Oh, but that assumes that the hospital or health system understands the patient journey in deciding. Understands the patient experience and knows which touch-points can be influenced.  That kind of detail data combined with permission based marketing activities fundamentally and strategically changes the commercialization of the hospital or health system.    

Okay, let’s be honest now, how many of you hospital and health system marketers have this kind of data and view of the patient and insured consumers?

That’s what I thought.   You just don’t have the marketing systems i.e. CRM or marketing automation to understand who the insured consumer and patient is, let alone send them meaningful individualized content with the right information at the right time, in the right format, in the delivery channel they desire.

Very quickly then, here are eight ways to tie together patient experience, experience touch-points and marketing to improve your market position, generate revenue and dominate categories of service.  

1.       It starts with a CRM, marketing automation and data. Here it is folks. None of what I have written about is possible unless marketing has a CRM with real data, continually analyzes the data for clues on the individual levels and has marketing automation platform to take advantage of those data findings. If you don’t have a CRM or marketing automation, then move along, you are not ready for this at all.   

2.        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 met 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.  

3.        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 them meaningfully 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.  

4.        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. 

5.        Focus on the doctor 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 medical practitioner’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. 

6.        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 health care consumer/patient comes in contact with which in turn creates the experience. Exceptional experience means gains in market share, brand awareness, and revenue. 

7.        Embrace direct 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.   

8.        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.

Best of luck and call me if you need me.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and is read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

Is the smartphone the cure to maintain physician independence?

The healthcare consumer will shell out $345 billion dollars this year for health insurance, co-payments, and deductibles. On top of that, they will spend another $271 billion on health-related items like gyms memberships, weight loss programs, exercise equipment, etc. That's a whopping $626 billion dollars out-of-pocket that are expected to rise for the foreseeable future.

The healthcare consumer and patient are demanding value, price and quality transparency from healthcare providers. Consumers want retail medicine, mHealth, and Telemedicine. All the while healthcare providers focus on market dominance and acquire physician practices to create market heft and then wonder why consumers are cranky?

With all of this happening then, is the smartphone the tool for physician independence? And, can the use of apps, mHealth and telemedicine allow a physician or physician group practice to remain independent?

In both cases, I think the answer is yes, with some pretty large ramifications for healthcare marketing as well.

First let’s reflect on the independent practitioner, primary care group or multi-specialty group.  Here is a story to illustrate my point. 

Some of you may remember a time when there were corner grocery stores.  Little mom and pop operations located in quite neighborhoods before the advent of the big box grocery chains.

Then it appears as if overnight, the big box national and regional grocery chains take over for our food dollar. We all heard the doom, gloom, and prophecy of the demise of those little mom and pop stores. Sure they are gone from the corner in the quiet neighborhood; but guess what, they are still around today and have been for a very long time.  Though the form is different, those little mom and pop operations are now the 7-Elevens, White Hen Pantries and AM-PM Minimarts for example.

Mom and pop operations competing very well against the big box grocery chains on convenience, accessibility, experience, engagement and sometimes even price.

I am not saying that physicians are grocery stores, but the lesson is apparent.  But before everyone calls the independent physician or unaffiliated group practice a thing of the past, one needs to review recent history in other markets for potential lessons of survival.  Technology, innovation and meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer, experience and engagement will keep the independent physician a reality.

The smartphone as the doctor meeting the healthcare needs of the consumer.  All of this driving convenient, accessible, mobile and giving the healthcare consumer or patient a measure of value, price certainty, quality, control, and information.

The use of technology and innovative care practices by physicians, which no doubt requires a change in the business model and some openness, can be the doctor’s friend in countering the advances of hospitals and health systems. In the long run, independent physicians are better for healthcare consumers and patient in care, experience, and engagement.  Besides, no matter the payment system it will still take a doctor’s order to get anything done.

Long live the independent physician.


Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and is read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.


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