Sunday, February 23, 2020

Does Your Hospital Marketing Appear Random and Unconnected?


The eye rolls commence from across the industry at the sight of the headline with everyone thinking; I have a marketing plan. We are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels. We even have the annual wellness calendar telling us when it’s time to be doing things.  And on and on.

I don’t know about you, but I consider myself a healthcare consumer.

So, what has this got to do with anything in the headline?

A lot.

To the consumer, it’s all random noise that is not connected. And it is random in part because there is no sustainable or continuous market presence.

For example, the other day, I received a direct mail newsletter from a hospital. Well, saying “I received” is probably misleading. Whomever the person that lives here named Resident is the one who received the mail. It was the first time I had heard from that provider in years.

Random.

Out of the blue comes a direct mail piece. Which, by the way, though nicely produced, did not engage me in any meaningful way? I enjoyed the fine print from the academic medical center with the tiny check with your insurer first. Really? Oh, you do surgery and have a new shiny MRI? Big deal, so does all the other hospitals. I am supposed to choose you because of that?  Hmm, try again.

The random advertisement that is running once or twice. The cable TV spot on a couple of channels. The occasional update on the Facebook page. Look, there’s a billboard. Heard that sports radio program sponsorship.  But none of it is connected or sustained.

Randomness.

Consumers are omnichannel, and they expect to be communicated with on their terms in a meaningful way that engages them on a personal level. The consumer expects that it is all about them and not all about the hospital.

It’s not about the hospital marketing plan and showing the activity of doing random things that appear coherent on paper. It’s about how you consistently use those activities and channels with a sustainable market presence to bring measurable value that engages the consumer.

And you can’t engage or demonstrate a meaningful value proposition when your marketing is so random in appearance to the consumer.

Healthcare continues to change in unimaginable ways now price transparency bringing heightened accountability and more sleepless nights for provider leadership. One can’t live in a bubble anymore and wait for Modern Healthcare to tell you what to do or for the myriad of lawsuits to stop the price transparency from failing.  I know that this isn’t easy, but at some point, hospitals must get their go-to-market strategy figured out and start meeting the consumer on their terms.

Consumers understand that they only need a hospital for three things, emergency care, intensive care, and care for acute complex medical conditions.  If a family, then maybe a PICU or NICU on occasion needs to be included.

Even though marketing budgets are constrained, it is the responsibility of marketers for figuring out the strategy for a continuous and sustainable market presence in an omnichannel world. Senior leadership and Boards need to come to grips with this reality as well. It’s not about you anymore, and it hasn’t been for a very long time.

And your first step is to bring the marketing voice back to the senior leadership table as a vice president position reporting to the CEO, without that voice at the table and the respect that comes along with it, not much changes. 

Your hospital marketing is random and unconnected to the consumer. Stay that way, and it will be like a crime scene, move along, nothing to see here.

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. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and 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, email me at Michael at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 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, February 16, 2020

The Future of Health Care – Consumerism, Price Transparency & Distributive Healthcare Networks


I always used to say that nothing is new in healthcare. It’s been done somewhere, someplace already in the world, or is just a recycled strategy prettied up to look like the present. In many ways, hospitals and health systems are like the teams of the NFL, the ultimate copy-cat league. When one or two teams have success with the strategy, tactics, and game planning, the rest of the league follows to varying degrees, same with hospitals, health systems, and other medical providers.

The above statement is not, by any means, a slam. It just is what it is. This observation on my part comes from over 30 years of working in the healthcare industry. When you still see hospital marketing in 2020 as I did in the 1990s, it’s a “come on man” moment for me.

Things are "a-changing".

This time, however, the change feels real. The changing healthcare landscape feels different. And the change is not being driven by hospitals, health systems, or other medical providers, but by the government, payers, and entrepreneurs.

Think about the future of healthcare with three major drivers.

If the real aim is medical care delivered at the right time, in the right place, at the right cost, it follows then that consumerism, price transparency, and the decentralization of healthcare is how and lasting change will come to healthcare.

Power to the people and healthcare marketing’s new role.

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, building a healthcare brand that is distributive with the service and treatment location that best suits the healthcare consumer’s needs.  

Medical services priced right and transparent. Health care services based on the healthcare needs of the consumer, not what a provider thinks it should be or is an unnecessary duplication of the provider's services down the street. And, can be delivered is a setting or location that is not hospital-based, which is far more convenient for consumers.

Think about how a distributive computer network operates. The same concept applied on a vastly larger scale.  Healthcare prices will decrease in this model. Price wars will take place. Consumerism, price transparency, and healthcare delivered as a distributive network are the great agents of change.

Instead of the consumer moving to the beat of the hospital or health 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.

After all, I only need a hospital for three things- acute complex medical care, emergency care, and intensive care and if I have a family, potentially a PICU. After that, I can obtain my care in a distributive healthcare network that is priced right, consumer-focused (think experience) convenient, accessible and higher quality.

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, email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com 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, February 9, 2020

Hospital & Health System Price Transparency- the Podcast. Are You Ready?

I had the great fortune to interviewed by Chris Boyer and Reed Smith, MBA at Touch Point Media, for their healthcare podcast TP157 – The Pursuit of Price Transparency in Healthcare. The topic was price transparency. In the 60-minute podcast, Chris and Reed explore the current regulatory efforts at forcing price transparency change providing excellent context and content.  Then comes the interview on how from a strategic marketing viewpoint, how hospitals and health systems need to get ready now, based on my LinkedIn post:   Hospital Price Transparency Equals Accountability and Healthcare Price Wars. Getting ready Starts Now – Update.

As price transparency gains momentum in the provider space, namely hospitals and health systems, the time to get ready is now.  A complicated issue, the fact remains hospital and health system price transparency are not an issue of if, but when.

Just click on the title to access the podcast. The podcast TP157 – The Pursuit of Price Transparency in Healthcare to hear a great discussion.  I encourage you to share widely - and would like to hear your feedback! Touch Point Media podcasts are available on all major podcast playing platforms, including: 
  • Apple podcasts
  • Spotify
  • Stitcher 
  • Google Play

Next steps.

Never mind all the lawsuits that have been filed by hospital associations and other providers groups. These are only delaying tactics. Consumerism is coming full force to healthcare, and the time to get ready is now. To get ready strategically. Time for providers to get ready culturally. To get ready tactically in approaching the market for healthcare services. But more importantly, become the customer-focused enterprise and have a consumer/patient experience that is second to none.

Here are some additional resources for you to get ready from previous Healthcare Marketing Matters posts.






The time is now for consumerism and price transparency in healthcare. Are you ready?

Thanks for reading, and feel free to share.

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. An expert in healthcare business and 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, email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. Opinions expressed are my own.