Sunday, August 13, 2017

It’s the Hospital Quality Award Season. Is the Insured Consumer Listening?

Or as I like to call it, it is the silly season of meaningless hospital marketing.

Like the back-to-school physical ads, hospitals and health systems are touting their newly minted quality jewel or consecutive awarding in clinical categories for two or more years. The quality award in and of itself is an accomplishment at some level. But, when these awards are the result of a black box that no one knows how the data is analyzed, besides the awarding organization, do these quality awards make any difference to the insured consumer.

And when there is no context outside of the award seal in the advertising or on the website on what the awards mean for the insured consumer, what’s the point?  Is this just wow look at us? Or maybe a checkbox for senior management, the Board of Directors and physicians in what they consider to be good marketing?

It also flies in the face of the publicly available data, that for the most part, shows the award winners with overall only average medical care at best, overpriced and just average satisfaction. Not great. Not bad. Just average.

A little cognitive dissonance for the insured consumer?

But beyond the obvious campaigning, what I fail to see is how health systems or hospital awardees are communicating in any meaningful way what those quality awards mean to the insured consumer. As I have written in the past, what is the value of that information to the insured consumer? A nice representation of the actual award and saying are in the top 5 percent nationally in (insert disease here) leaves it kind of lacking, especially when other hospitals you compete against are making the same claim.

Wasted Opportunity

The campaigning I see in its current form treats the insured consumer like they are some idiot.   It also reinforces what the healthcare industry has been crying about that healthcare is more complicated than a 5-star rating.  An inadvertent consequence nonetheless, you are creating the simplistic 5-star rating system yourself by how you are all campaigning the quality award.  Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.

It’s not about value not to you, but to the insured consumer. Instead of taking the opportunity to make the award meaningful with value and context to the insured consumer, hospitals and health systems take the easy way out and puff out our chest to say look at me.

Leveraging the Opportunity

The networked patient is one who is hungry for information.  And patients are networked today more so than at any other time in the history of healthcare. The future will only make it more so.  So why not get ahead of the curve and start making your ads and marketing communications pieces more value driven and providing healthcare solutions to the consumer?

Explain what that award means to the consumer.  Define the value. Show how it separates you from all the others. Communicate how it reinforces your brand and brand promise. Use the award to create trust. Define the award experience in the patient’s terms. Just don't throw it out there and say we are in the top 5 percent or whatever.  That is not meaningful to anyone.  In an age of outcomes transparency, quality accountability, and consumer choice, those ads sorely fail.

I am an insured consumer and your award ad claiming greatness in all things medical is meaningless.

Can you hear me now?

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 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.

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