Sunday, August 26, 2018

Hospital Marketing If Done Right, Will Look Like a Distributive Network

Think about the headline question a little. If the real aim is medical care delivered at the right time, in the right place, at the right cost, it follows that the centralization of healthcare around a hospital is not the right model for marketing.

Think about this like a distributive computer network model sharing the work across many computers instead of a single large computer. 

If one examines the pace of change and innovation, it’s easy to envision marketing’s role more on the experience and demand management side of the equation, by building a hospital or health system brand that is distributive with the service and treatment location that best suits the healthcare consumers or patient’s needs. 

It’s all about meeting the medical needs of the consumer or patient in the “distributive network” and building the brand among connected network touchpoints. Touchpoints that are not separate but a connected whole.

A distributive approach to your branding significantly changes the message and brand story. No longer focusing on the hospital as the center of the healthcare universe, the distributive care network marketing approach is the value of the network and brand to the individual.   

Scanning the horizon, technology for health information exchange connectivity, EHRs, Google Glass devices, advances in remote monitoring, telemedicine, wearable devices, surgical procedures in an ambulatory setting, and pharmaceuticals, etc., the concept of distributive healthcare is a reality.

Instead of the centralization of work and workflow which currently is the most expensive and average quality setting, the patient or healthcare consumer for that matter, now moves in a system of care that is potentially more cost-efficient and effective with a greater opportunity for higher quality care that meets the Triple Aim. 

Instead of the patient moving to the beat of the system needs, the system is more responsive and moves to the patient's needs. It is also potentially more user-friendly resulting in greater engagement, experience, and adherence.

Now, what does this model taken from the computer world do to all those hospital mergers to create a “scale” when affordable and accessible patient care, for the most part, is prevalent without ever setting foot in a hospital?

Discuss.

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 Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing & social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, call Michael at 815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.

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

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Hospital Marketing Has a New Mission

And it’s not about “putting heads in the beds.”

The marketing mission is now engagement, experience, and demand management.

From what I can see, the great majority of hospital leadership still believes hospital and system marketing is the “all about us” story. The story of being “world-class” with dazzling high-tech equipment, state-of-the-art buildings, awards, and all the features of care as seen as important to the hospital or health system, without any mention of the value and benefit to the end-user, aka, the patient.

Old and tired from the 1990s, that kind of marketing and content doesn’t work anymore.

This is the new mission of hospital marketing in a value-based world.

Consumer and Patient Engagement

More than a buzzword, engagement is the way that one binds the healthcare consumer and patient to the hospital or health system network. In an age where the changes over the last decade mean that a person only needs a hospital for three items- emergency care, care for acute complex medical conditions, and intensive care, engagement is the currency by which the hospital or health system stays relevant in a world full of higher-quality, cost-affordable and convenient alternative treatment locations.

That means providing content that is valuable and impactful to the audience. It provides the reasons why you're relevant and important to them. It meets their needs, not yours. It is the value the hospital or health system provides, not the look at all the features.

Patient Experience

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.  In the age of consumer-directed health 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. Telemedicine, digital health, non-traditional providers, in-home self-care, Uber for affordable, accessible on-demand transportation, all play a role in that demand management.  Gone are the days of hospital marketing departments driving demand to fill the beds. The need is to drive demand to the appropriate care setting and location of service.

I purposefully did not write about how to accomplish the needed transformation, as this focus is directionally strategic. It starts with the strategy of focus and direction, then to tactics, and finally execution. There are no longer any simple answers to what has been neglected for all these years in hospital and health system marketing as the market has evolved. Turning a slow-moving, hulking battleship 180 degrees to be more responsive to the healthcare consumer and patient takes time.

Always remember those wise words of Sun Tzu in The Art of War, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest road to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

There sure is a lot of noise from hospitals and health systems in the marketplace.

As you can see (pun intended), I had my retinal detachment surgery last week Monday, and I am back at it already. There are some limitations like no driving for a couple of weeks and not going over 1,000 feet in elevation or flying for eight weeks, which is better than what it could have been. The surgical procedure took 30-minutes in the outpatient surgical suite in the physician’s office. Never set foot in, or needed to be in, a hospital-based outpatient center.

Do you get my point now?

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 Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing & social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, call Michael at 815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.


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

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Now Is the Time to Stop Age-based Segmentation and Marketing. “I am not a senior.”

A funny thing happens when you get older.  Brands, especially those in healthcare, suddenly decide that based solely on age, that one is now in need of senior services, specialized care, and other age-based items. I particularly enjoy the direct mail pieces for Medicare supplement insurance from Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare, and others with the rhetorical question, “Are you turning 65?” in the headline.

Really? Do I have a choice in whether I’m turning 65? I never imagined it was a possible choice.  And here is the big one for me, Consumer Cellular, your ads portray “seniors” as bumbling fools who need help to understand that “new-fangled technology.”  Nonsense. Just nonsense.

Age-based segmentation is wrong on many levels. Age-based marketing does not reflect the new market realities of how someone of any age uses technology, their experiences or expectations as individuals, as well as how they relate to the world, their beliefs, self-perceptions, attitudes, and lifestyles’. Your “seniors” use and are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, etc.

I am an individual who is your worst consumer nightmare if you keep marketing to me as an old fool. I am not a demographic marketed for services I do not need, based solely on assumptions of age.

And just because I reached that magic age, I did not become an invalid, incapacitated, or suddenly in need of “senior services.” I do not suddenly need a geriatrician. Hospital, if you understood who your user is, you would have seen I already have a primary care physician and have been using for health care system for over 20 years. Get a clue.

In this age of personalization with the wealth of segmentation data available, it is sheer laziness on marketers to rely on the old traditional age-based segmentation assumptions.  I even propose to you, that relying on age-based segmentation and assumptions of the age group and their needs, is a form of racism and bias that perpetuates age-related stereotypes in society.

It’s time for marketers to stop their dependence on outdated and irrelevant age-based assumptions and segmentation and become people-oriented marketers.  Becoming an individual-oriented marketer meeting their needs and not assuming will lead to brand growth and success.

The sooner you realize and start removing traditional age-based assumptions and segmentation from your marketing efforts; the more effective your marketing will become.

And even better, by dropping age-based segmentation, your messaging will become more relevant, more personalized, and more effective. You won’t be reinforcing age-related biases and discrimination in the society either.

Now, it isn’t that hard, is it?

On another note, I will be taking a small few weeks' break from posting. I am having retinal detachment surgery on August 13, and my vision clarity, as well as writing, will be difficult at best for a while. I appreciate you reading Healthcare Marketing Matters, and I will be back writing again as soon as I can see clearly.

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 Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing & social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, call Michael at 815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.

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

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

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Dark Social- What You Can’t See, Can Hurt Your Hospital

Bright social, where you can see your handiwork, and revel in the brilliance of your content in attempts to influence the choice of the healthcare consumer and patients in selecting the hospital and physicians for treatment could be falling way short.

Falling short you say?

Not entirely mind you, but with the changes in all of the social media platforms as a result of fake news, phony followers, misuse of user data, etc.,  Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and other social media platforms as restrictive content publishing houses only represents one-third of all the activity in social media on the Internet of Things (IoT).

Where in the world is this going?

Two-thirds of internet social media activity occurs in what has been termed dark social. I am not speaking of the nefarious activities of drug dealers, gun runners, blackmailers, etc. using TOR or another program that allows one to search the web anonymously. I am referring to all the social media activities that can’t be traced such as email link sharing, some applications, and one-on-one messaging.

Now what?

For example, a healthcare consumer is looking for a new physician or hospital.   The individual researches on the IoT, speaks with work colleagues and others, reads some published content about the brilliance of the physician or the hospital, and utilizes several social media platforms. 

But in this process, friends and others may send an email, might use Facebook Messenger. Google Hangouts or WhatsApp Messenger, send an SMS text with a link to a source of information or solution that would be of interest. It is the method of sharing information that makes it dark and potentially untraceable.

And what is of interest to me at least, is not the quantity of dark social traffic, but the quality of that sharing traffic that goes on unseen.

Think about this for a moment.

How important is the recommendation from someone you know about a service or solution when you receive a link to a website or shares some meaningful information? It’s one-on-one messaging as compared to the mass messaging which has some traits of personalization, but still a mass-market message.

Therein lays the opportunity. Remember all the talk and activity about word-of-mouth marketing that was always the perceived key to success over the years? Well, word-of-mouth marketing hasn’t gone away, it’s just gone dark. 

Pun intended.

So how do you reach the two-thirds of the internet that are currently not visible to you? Most marketers use some form of marketing automation providing us at least the fundamental information of  “shared.” Seeing the word “SHARED” can be the equivalent of shouting the word  “squirrel” and having the dog reaction of quickly turning around in the Disney movie Up.  Does your neck hurt yet?

But by who and where was it shared?

Was it shared externally or internally in the recipient’s organization?  Was it shared with a supportive recommendation message, or, reaching high in the chuckle factor? Important to know as dark sharing impacts and influences the healthcare consumer's buyer’s journey.

Changing how we track what’s going on.

We are early in the process of discovering the hidden treasure trove of data in dark social, but there are ways to begin to understand how your information is being shared and used.

It’s all about the embedded code.

One way is to add trackable code to URLs someone may copy and paste in messages. Another way is to add trackable code to your website content for when it is copied and pasted.  When publishers participate with your short trackable code is added to any text for when it is copied and pasted into a message.

It’s early, and more ways are being developed to track the activity on dark social. But all marketers need to begin to understand and respond to the influence of dark social on their marketing and find ways to see to be able to leverage that which is unseen.

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 Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing & social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, call Michael at 815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.


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