I came across an old post from December 2010 written with the passage of the Affordable Care Act on how the role of hospital marketing needed to change to meet the new evolving consumer-directed marketplace. Then in 2012, a reader asked if hospital marketing had changed nearly two years later. My answer is 2012, sadly enough not much has changed in the current state and role of hospital marketing.
Today on May 20, 2018, nearly eight-year after the original post, I decided to revisit the question. The answer is still; not much has changed overall.
Oh, we have added an expanded social media and online practice, but much of the changing role and strategic marketing leadership that I envisioned with the passage of the Affordable Care Act hasn't taken place. It's pretty much standard operations as in the past. And that is disappointing.
Understand that I am not talking about pharma, medical device manufacturers, insurance companies, suppliers, and retailers moving into the healthcare space. They get it. A few hospitals and health systems get it. They understand the power and importance of marketing.
What I wrote about eight years ago, still stands. Hospitals are falling behind daily in their overall marketing, engagement of the healthcare consumer and managing the patient/consumer experience.
One new concept added to the post is marketing to the health insurance exchange consumers. Why? It’s an opportunity to have people select insurance plans in which you are a network provider. It’s is potentially a brand marketing opportunity that few if any hospital tries to take a competitive advantage. Hoping the buyer of an insurance plan where you are one of the network hospitals is not a strategy.
Here we go….again.
Marketing is a strategy first, tactics second. The voice of marketing should reflect the voice of your customers and not be a second thought. Your future programs and services should be determined by the needs of the market, not your gut feeling. You cannot become a customer-driven or market-driven organization if the skills and experiences of marketing are not at the leadership table.
Managing the Patient Experience
If anyone is prepared to understand and manage the patient experience across the organization, it's marketing. Patient experience means just that- understanding what that patient experience is at all touchpoints. And then changing or managing that experience to its fullest potential for the benefit of the patient and the organization. Patient experience is an integrating process across the entire organization internally and externally. One organization to the patient, one patient to the organization. It is not simply another quality program or flavor of the day.
Understanding and Executing Demand Management
The hospital is no longer the center of the healthcare universe. It isn’t about “putting heads in the beds” anymore. The Affordable Care Act is designed to keep people out of the hospital. Outside of emergency care, care for complex acute medical conditions, and intensive care, hospital admission is a defect in the process of care. Marketing needs to understand what the demand for healthcare services will be, when they will be needed, and manage that demand is making sure that the hospital or health system has the right resources, in the right place, at the right time to meet demand. Gone are the days where marketing departments will be driving demand to fill hospital beds. They will drive demand to the appropriate place and location of service.
Becoming a Revenue Marketer and Having Revenue Accountability
Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) is necessary for anything marketing accomplishes, traditionally, socially, or online. Marketers in healthcare organizations need to become revenue producers, not resource consumers that show little value beyond, it looks nice. In fact, marketing should have P&L as well as an SG&A accountability for many of the products and services offered by a healthcare organization.
Marketing the Manager of Change
Who better in an organization than for marketing to manage the healthcare organizations transformation from an inward-focused it's all about me, to an outward-focused market and consumer-driven organization? Open to much debate, this is probably the most controversial look at the expanding role of marketing. Individuals who have worked at their organizations all of their careers, do not necessarily have the skills, training or abilities to change an organization in any meaningful, transformative way.
Marketing to the Insurance Exchange Consumer
Marketing to the exchange consumer is more than negotiating with every plan available and being included. In the new world of consumer-directed healthcare, purchasing health insurance is a big deal. Consumer shopping behavior is clearly at play in the exchanges. When there is a 10 percent difference in premium, the healthcare consumer exhibits consumerist shopping behavior and chooses the lower-cost health plan with the narrower restrictive provider panel limiting their choice.
If I were running a hospital, you can bet my marketing department would be figuring out the educational campaign to target those healthcare consumers buying health insurance in the exchanges, teaching them how to buy insurance that included the hospital and the affiliated physicians. And that doesn't mean a list of insurance plans or doctors.
The role of hospital marketing needs to change sooner rather than later. Eight years is time enough.
Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought-leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in 52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media with a Klout score of 64, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. Michael is an established influencer and inquires for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling 815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.
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