Showing posts with label #Hospitals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #Hospitals. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Importance of Communicating the Value of the Hospital During a Pandemic- Not Features


With the resurgence of COVID-19 combined with the start of the flu season and colder damper weather, and so much uncertainty, conflicting viewpoints, gaslighting, and outright false facts in society, how is the hospital and health system communicating value?

Image by Yogesh More from Pixabay

Why value and not features, benefits, and awards?

Patients and the community are scared, and there has been a loss of trust exhibited by patients not returning for care at pre-pandemic levels. With so much uncertainty, is it time to move healthcare marketing beyond "all about us" to the value and benefit brought to the patient and community?

Unless you are a new provider in the market, features and services or vague quality and excellence claims may be falling on deaf ears. 

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

It's about value, benefit, price, and convenience on the patient's terms in today's world.

It's about answering the patient's question of trust and benefit of using you. 

In today's world, you need to have a compelling value proposition with messaging that provides clear and understandable benefits to patients.

Enter Value Marketing

Value marketing makes the case to your patients how you are their partner in solving their medical problem, offering a solution, giving results, and even make them satisfied to whatever extent possible.

Value marketing is about a creative exchange between the patient and the hospital in the marketplace. It is a dynamic transaction that continually changes based on the patient and community needs compared to what the hospital, or physician for that matter, offers.

Change the message from communicating what is done every day to the value and benefit of medical services and the positive impact on health.

Instead of talking about programs and services that everybody else has, talk about the value and benefits of those same programs and services and what they bring to the patient, i.e., outcomes, price, experience, and convenience.

As an alternative to saying we have the latest high-tech gizmo, talk about the value and benefit of what that latest most fantastic high-tech gizmo brings to the patient.

As a substitute to just communicating the Best Hospitals or 100 Top Hospitals awards for care, for example, talk to your patient and community about the value and benefit of that award by putting context around the content.

Stop talking at your audiences, speak to them by providing meaningful content that has context, delivered to them when they want it, on the device and format desired—message patients by offering value-based solutions to their healthcare needs. 

Image by Lisa Caroselli from Pixabay


The patient desperately wants to trust and return for care. But they need proof it's safe. They need to know the value and benefit for them, not the hospital.

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & 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, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and now TikTok. The opinions expressed are my own.

Signup for the e-newsletter Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup on the sidebar.

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Your Definitive Guide for Making a Hospital Patient-focused in a Pandemic World

 

Image by Igor Link from Pixabay

The old rules of marketing and attracting patients are being cast aside like leaves in a storm. The acceleration of healthcare transformation into a personal technology-driven digital and convenient service point changes the hospital's rules to adopt a higher patient-centricity level.

But we are patient, and customer-focused is the cry.

But the answer to the question is not a simple as it may seem. There is no checklist of "if I do this and this, I will be a customer-focused hospital or health system, and the patient or consumer will think so too." The answer to the question is a two-part answer. And a hospital cannot arrive at the promised land of being a patient-focused healthcare enterprise unless it accomplishes part two of the solution. 

Part One- The Patient as Health Care Consumer

Think of your own experiences when interacting with a customer-focused company.  One is engaged and highly satisfied. Interaction with the company in gathering information is easy, accessible, and understandable, be it in-person, or regardless of device, in any digital and social media platform.  The experience from the first contact to the last encounter is seamless, meaningful, and integrated—proactive recommendations tailored to your needs.  During the engagement process, trust is built, and in the case of previous utilization, faith is reinforced and enhanced.  The brand promise is delivered every time.

And most importantly, as this is perceptual, there is an emotional connection that all that matters is "me."  At no time do I feel or have an experience that is all about the hospital and health system, making me secondary to what is taking place. The organization is responsive. Satisfaction scores exceed normalized standards.

A note regarding satisfaction: because the healthcare enterprise may have high satisfaction scores, remember that it only measures the customer perspective during care.  It does not measure external influences or needs. High satisfaction scores, while important, do not make a patient-focused enterprise. Satisfaction is only one indicator of customer-centricity.  Satisfaction is a process that can be studied, manipulated, changed, and improved.

Part Two- The Healthcare Enterprise

Sometimes, one must look at the past lessons to find future solutions, as healthcare evolves into a retail medicine, consumer-driven business model. So here is some reading homework:  MARKOR: A Measure of Market Orientation, Ajay K. Kohli, Bernard J. Jaworski, Ajith Kumar,  Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 30, No. 4 (Nov. 1993), pp. 467-477, American Marketing Association; Harvard Business Review, "To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple", Patrick Spenner and Karen Freeman, May 2012; And  McKinsey & Company, "The consumer decision journey", David Court, Dave Elzinga, Susan Mulder, and Ole Jergen Vetyik, June 2009.

Becoming a patient-centric enterprise requires two things. First is outward market orientation. The second is that the culture and behavior to support the organization, the customer-focused business model.

Customer centricity, in its pure and most straightforward form, it is a matter of market orientation. "Market orientation refers to the organization-wide generation of market intelligence about current and future needs of customers, dissemination of intelligence within the organization, and responsiveness to it." (Kohli, Jaworski & Kumar, 1993.)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

To become a patient-focused healthcare enterprise, and there are 20 indicators in the MARKOR scale to measure market orientation, these three areas can be considered to be the most important first steps:

Intelligence Generation 

1.       Meeting with patients and the community to understand current and future needs. 

2.       An in-house market research department or the availability of external market research resources. 

3.       The ability to detect changes driven by patient and community preferences. 

4.       Annual surveys of patient and community perceptions that are different than satisfaction measurement.  

Intelligence Dissemination 

1.       Regular interdepartmental meetings on market trends and development. 

2.       Significant developments within the market or with critical customers  are shared quickly. 

3.       Regular dissemination of satisfaction and perceptual  data at all levels of the enterprise. 

Responsiveness 

1.       Recognition of changes in customers product or service needs. 

2.       Alignment of product or service development efforts with customer needs. 

3.       Regular, interdepartmental planning to respond to changes in the business environment. 

4.       Responsiveness to customer complaints. 

5.       Making a concerted effort to modify products or services to fit community needs.

According to Walker Research and the Walker Index, these characteristics are some of the key differentiating elements of customer-focused companies that are most likely to produce significantly better long term performance.

Systems to gather the intelligence to be an evolving patient and community-focused healthcare enterprise are one thing.  Culture and behavior are another, and is more often than not, the potential stumbling block in hospitals and health systems becoming patient-focused.

Image by Free-Photo from Pixabay

The culture and behavior of the healthcare enterprise influence and ultimately determines success.  Just because the healthcare enterprise completes one or more of the above, or a select few of the 20 MARKOR scale attributes, that in and of itself doesn't make the healthcare enterprise customer focused. It only works if the organization's culture and behavior align with the underlying organizational beliefs and values.

Patient-centric organizational culture and behavior fall into four areas:

Senior management 

1.       Committed to and takes action on being patient-focused. 

2.       Drives business and financial planning based on the needs of patients and the community. 

3.       Utilizes market data in decisions. 

4.       Business development is externally focused on meeting the needs of the community. 

5.       Marketing is a member of the senior team, trusted and is involved in all decisions. 

6.       Has a high level of tolerance for change. 

7.       Accepts innovation and has some tolerance for failure. 

8.       Low tolerance for and eliminates "sacred cows."

 Interdepartmental relationships 

1.       Interdepartmental cooperation takes place at all staff levels. 

2.       Formal and informal connections to departments. 

3.       Openness to ideas from other departments. 

4.       Focus is on meeting the needs of the customer/ 

5.       Interdepartmental barriers to meet the needs of the customer is identified and eliminated. 

6.       Seamless handoff of customers between departments

Organizational systems 

1.       A balanced approach to organizational structure. 

2.       Market-based incentive structures that focus on long-term company health. 

3.       Low level of "office politics." 

4.       The mechanism is in placed to share patient-related data 

5.       Continuous evaluation and training on organizational patient and community centeredness. 

6.       Strict standards regarding patient service competency skills for all positions. 

7.       All touch-points  of the patient experience are integrated and seamless.

Organizational Culture 

1.       Organizations core values are widely shared and intensely held. 

2.       Senior management establishes norms of patient-focused behavior by their actions. 

3.       There is a culture socialization program for new employees. 

4.       Conveys a sense of identity. 

5.       People-oriented. 

6.       Team-oriented. 

7.       Outcome-oriented. 

8.       Fosters behavioral consistency.

Patient centrality cannot be marketed into existence with campaigns and forays into the market with "patient-centric messages" or internal declarations of customer focus.  Sooner or later, the patient and community will figure it out.  Employees will see it as the flavor of the day and wait it out until the next great leadership vision comes around. 

The patient-focused healthcare enterprise is a way of life that permeates the hospital or health system with a singular focus. It is outward-looking and responsive, not inwardly focused, and unresponsive.

Customer centricity is about changing the healthcare enterprise's DNA.  The patient-focused healthcare enterprise is hard to create and takes a lot of work. It's not a box on a checklist and is not just satisfaction. But in the end, as healthcare transforms into a patient-centric market, it is the only way that the healthcare enterprise can survive. Cutting costs and going lean will only go so far in retail medicine.

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & 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, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and now TikTok. The opinions expressed are my own.

Signup for the e-newsletter Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup on the sidebar.

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Improving the Physician Hospital Experience, for Revenue & Growth

Healthcare can be a harsh mistress, especially on the revenue side for hospitals and health systems exacerbated by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. With revenues falling and many on the brink of closure, new ways must be found to boost revenues.

The task will not get any easier as the pandemic rages, and in January, the new consumer price transparency regulations begin. The consumer will have the ability to search for prices on several hundred standard procedures among multiple providers.  

Price competition comes to hospitals.

As difficult as this all is, patients still, for the most part, listen to and act on the recommendation of their physician when seeking hospital care.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
And therein lies the physician experience improvement opportunity.

After all the years on both sides of the healthcare marketing ledger and having worked closely with physicians, I fail to understand is why time and effort are not spent by hospitals improving the physician practice experience? I am not talking here about the token efforts, but a full scale all out a facility-wide step in eliminating or reducing the internal hospital barriers that physicians encounter when they have patients in your facility.

Is it award marketing and meaningless branding efforts?

When we all pat ourselves on the back for the excellent marketing campaigns and look at our branding if one looks and the data, you will find that changes in hospital market share and revenue are more determined by physician admitting practices. The one or two-point swings in share between the hospital, and competitors are the result of doctors moving their patients to hospitals where it's easier to practice medicine.

Image by ganderboy from Pixabay

If you want to grow and grow is profitable, physician experience improvement is at the top of the too do list. It's also one way to stop the out-of-network referrals, retain patients, and generate additional ancillary income.

Even today, nothing happens unless you have a physician's order.  It makes no difference what the payment model or insurance plan is that the patient possesses. No doctor's order means no revenue and no growth. 

What will bring the greatest Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) or sales effort, running ads that tell consumers are how great you are because you just got an award, or effectively and efficiently managing the physician experience?

Time to focus seriously on the physician experience.

It's about the physician's experience in admitting, treating, and referring patients, regardless of the point of service, be it the emergency room, hospital, surgical center, or home care agency. 

Ask yourself how easy is it for them to practice medicine in your facility?  How many complaints do they get from their patients about the hospital? How do you lessen the hassle factor for physicians to allow them to be effective, efficient practitioners of the medical arts?

Map out the physician experience touchpoints across the dimensions of their experience. Where are the gaps? Is the experience delivered with consistency day in and day out? Where does the experience consistently fail?

Be ready to make changes in how you do things.  When your medical staff liaison, account rep, or insert title here person comes back stating the physicians encounter difficulties in practicing medicine in the hospital, be ready to make meaningful changes. 

To restate a common theme, it is not about the hospital or health system any longer. It is all about value for physicians and patients. The physician experience is a significant part of that value.


Image by Lisa Caroselli from Pixabay

With the hospital and health system need to reestablish the trust of the patient because of the fallout and changes in care due to pandemic, the physician can play an important role. A role that is greatly determined by their hospital experience.

Manage the physicians experience successfully, revenue and growth will follow.

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & 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, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. The opinions expressed are my own.

Signup for the e-newsletter Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup on the sidebar.

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

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Hope is Not a Strategy; Leading Patients, Community Through the Flu Season, COVID-19 Reemergence is.

I was reading an interesting and well-written article on the front page of the Chicago Tribune this morning, "We are preparing for the worst:’ Chicago-area Hospitals brace for flu and COVID-19 to collide,” by Lisa Schenker. One comment, in particular, struck a chord, “They’re also hoping that large numbers of people in their communities get their flu shot, despite their lingering fear many people have about visiting the doctor.”

Hoping?

Image by Jills from Pixabay

Hope is not a strategy but using your marketing and public relations resources to lead the community is a strategy of leadership that hospitals and health systems should be undertaking. Not a new topic; I have already written much about hospital and health system community leadership during the pandemic. You may want to read or re-read my blog post from July 21st, “What Is the Ongoing Role of the Hospital in a Public Health Crisis?" https://bit.ly/2E5BHP0

While steps are being taken internally by hospitals in marshaling resources and planning what to do in the event of a surge of flu and COVID-19 patients, only a couple of hospitals were actively planning how to lead their community in flu prevention.

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

There are several questions each hospital and health system need to ask. 

·         First, how is the hospital and health systems engaging their patients and the community in flu prevention? 

·         Secondly, how is the hospital and health system making flu vaccinations easily accessible, convenient, and affordable? 

·         Third, how are marketing and public relations resources being deployed in the effort?

Fear dominates on the part of patients about going to the doctor and being exposed to COVID-19. It may not be accurate, but it is a perception and a perception that hospitals and health systems can exercise leadership in to dispel.

Hospitals and health systems during the height of the pandemic in their regions demonstrated an incredible ability to engage patients and communities to slow and decrease community spread. The work of doctors and nurses was heroic in many ways.  The same engagement, educational, and prevention strategies, need to be a continuing effort combined with flu prevention and vaccination, lest the hospitals become overwhelmed again.

Hospital and health system leadership responsibility exercised in patient and community engagement during the pandemic didn’t magically end when it was no longer a SARS-CoV-2 hot spot. If anything, the hospital and health system needed to keep up the same level of leadership and engagement. Unfortunately, many did not and went back to business as usual.

Image by Startup Stock Photos from Pixabay

Maybe this time, instead of hoping for the best, by using marketing and public relations resources in leading the community for flu prevention and vaccination, the worst-case scenario is avoided.

Hope is not a strategy, but leadership and active patient and community engagement for preventing the flu, and a COVID-19 reemergence is.

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & 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, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. The opinions expressed are my own.

Signup for the e-newsletter, Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox on a daily. Add your email address in the signup on the sidebar.

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

Monday, June 6, 2016

Improving the Physician Hospital Experience, Untapped Revenue & Growth?

It’s a harsh world in healthcare and for healthcare marketing in general.  Living in two worlds, hospitals, and health systems still get paid for putting heads in the beds with the production of care. While at the same time, hospitals are faced with needing to be cost efficient and medically effective in finding more appropriate settings of care than the inpatient site if it’s value or risk-based payment models.  

Dazed and confused.

After all the years on both sides of the healthcare marketing ledger, and having worked closely with physicians, I fail to understand is why time and effort are not spent by hospitals improving the physician practice experience? I am not talking here about the token efforts, but a full scale all out facility-wide effort in eliminating or reducing the internal hospital barriers that physicians encounter when they have patients in your facility.

Is it really award marketing and meaningless branding efforts?

When we all pat ourselves on the back for the great marketing campaigns and look at us branding. If one looks and the data, you will find that changes in hospital market share and revenue are more determined by physician admitting practices. The one or two-point swings in share between hospital competitors is the result of doctors moving their patients to hospitals where for the time being it’s easier to practice medicine.

If you want to grow, and growth is good, physician experience improvement is at the top of the too do list. It’s also one way to stop the out-of-network referrals and retain the patient and either save the cost or generate the income.

Even today nothing happens unless you have a physician's order.  It makes no difference what the payment model or insurance plan is that the patient possesses. No doctors order means no revenue and no growth. 

What will bring the greatest Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) or sales effort, running ads that tell consumers are how great you are because you just got an award, or effectively and efficiently managing the physician experience?

Time to focus seriously on the physician experience.

It's about their experience in admitting, treating and referring patients to your emergency room,  hospital, pharmacy, surgical center or home care agency that docs deal with on a daily basis.  How easy is it for them to practice medicine in your facility?  How many complaints do they get from their patients about the hospital? How do you lessen the hassle factor for physicians to allow them to be effective and efficient practitioners of the medical arts?   

Be ready to make changes in how you do things.  When your medical staff liaison, account rep, or insert title here person comes back stating the physicians are encountering difficulties in practicing medicine in the hospital, be ready to make meaningful changes. 

To restate a common theme of mine, it is not at all about the hospital or health system any longer. It is all about value for physician, patient and healthcare consumer. And the experience is a significant part of that value.

Manage the physicians experience successfully, revenue and growth will follow.

On another note, I am going to be part of an article on pharma and the use of data and analytics in direct to consumer marketing to drive brand.  Publication is by The Drum www.thedrum.com, Europe's largest and most widely read source of news and information for marketers and brands based in the UK. It's going to run in a supplement created for the Cannes Lions Health Conference in Cannes, France, June 18-19, 2016. https://www.canneslions.com/lions_health/  The article will appear in special print edition supplement of The Drum being distributed at the conference.

Michael is an internationally followed healthcare blogger, business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader. I am also HubSpot Academy, Email & Inbound Marketing certified.


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

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Communicating Value is The New Hospital Marketing Currency

How are you the hospital marketing and communications expert telling the value story to the healthcare consumer and patient?  It is an important question. With the healthcare world turned upside down, and consumers are now becoming an involved new stakeholder, how you answer the question will quickly determine market success or failure.

The hospital and health system are in an undifferentiated market.

It’s not about quality. Quality is equal among hospitals in the consumers mind. We all know it’s not, but hospitals have done remarkable work using marketing communications without any quality substantial proof points to back up the claims.  It’s the adage if one says something loud enough and long enough, people will believe. As an inadvertent consequence of the effort, quality as a differentiator is off the table for the healthcare consumer.

It’s not about clinical services and programs because hospitals try to be everything to everyone and have similar if not the same offerings. Most of the marketing communications when one analyzes the content across the spectrum of hospitals in a market is pretty much the same.

So if it’s not about the quality or what the hospital or health systems has in the way of capability, now what?

In today's world, it's about value, for the healthcare consumer.
                                                                                
Can you answer the healthcare consumer’s question of why should I use the hospital or health system? After all, with the diagnostic and treatment options available to the healthcare consumer, the hospital is only needed for three things, emergency care, intensive care and acute care for medically complex conditions?

Enter Value Marketing Communications

Value marketing is making the case to your healthcare consumer how you are solving their medical problem, offering a solution, giving results and even making them happy.  

Value marketing communications are about a creative exchange between people and organizations in the marketplace.  It is a dynamic transaction that always change based on the needs of the individual compared to what the healthcare team has to offer.

So instead of communicating about the mundane everyday activity, talk meaningfully about the value and benefit. Compelling content with the right context can engage, build relationships and in-and-of-itself provide value.

Instead of talking about programs and services, talk about the value and benefits those same programs and services and what they bring to the healthcare consumer, i.e., outcomes, price, experience and convenience.

Try not putting buildings and the latest high-tech gizmo at the forefront, talk about the value and benefit of what they bring to the healthcare consumer and patient.

Talk to the new stakeholders about the value and how the healthcare enterprise can solve their health problem by offering value-based solutions to their healthcare needs.

The healthcare consumer is awakening and demanding more.  More value and benefit for them, not the healthcare enterprise.

Michael is an internationally followed healthcare blogger, business, marketing, and communications strategy thought leader.  

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


Sunday, April 19, 2015

A neutral rating of satisfaction at best for hospitals from consumers?

To improve satisfaction the hospital needs to focus on these four areas- the employees and culture,  experience, engagement and value.  Anything less and one is wasting time, money and human resources.

By now nearly everyone has read or heard the accounts of the CMS launch of the 5 star rating on hospitals based on the HCAHPS scores for consumers.  So as to not to recap, what follows are a couple of links for the reader. One is from Healthcare Finance News  251 hospitals earn 5 stars, 101 earn 1 star, in new CMS Hospital Compare rankings (full list)Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services assigns ratings to more than 3,500 hospitals. The other is the link to the CNS website that a consumer would use, Medicare.gov Hospital Compare.

What does it all mean from a marketing perspective?

Well, it’s not good and here is why.

The rating scale is five stars with one star being the lowest and  five stars being the best.  A three score is a neutral rating, meaning it’s neither good nor bad, just there. And for a hospital or health system brand that is the kiss of death.  No brand loyalty here and if the opportunity presents itself for the healthcare consumer to switch providers, they will.

With millions of dollars poured into new facilities and amenities like private rooms, on demand dinning, HD TVs, wireless networks, etc., hospitals and health systems thought that they could increase satisfaction levels by focusing on the hotel services.

What was forgotten is the healthcare consumer is paying attention, and they looked right past all of that and into the experience. And the experience doesn't match the claims in the marketing campaigns.  I especially like the "it’s all about you messages" then the hospital is rated a three.

It’s time for hospitals and associations to stop whining.

There are issues in some regards to the ratings, sample sizes and high satisfaction levels do not necessarily translate into higher quality care. We all get that. But even so, the general tone of the response in the stories in the major news outlets makes the associations, hospitals and health systems look like whiners, with hospitals talking about all that is wrong with the rating.  That’s right I said whining.  And living in the Chicago-land area there are a bevy of independent hospital and system hospitals that are average at best.

But the fact remains, the ratings are here and are here to stay, so get over it.

Hospitals are already being seen as the bad guy now, and this only reinforces that I really don’t care messages that those types of comments create in the mind of the healthcare consumer.

What to do?

I will keep this simple for the hospitals and health systems, satisfaction is no great mystery.  There are four things to focus:

1. Employees and culture
A hospital or health system will never have highly satisfied patients or healthcare consumers if the employees are not happy and love what they do. If the culture doesn’t support a healthcare consumer or patient focus then that message comes through loud and clear via the employees. And stating that you are customer focused or patent focused does not make it so. See “What does a customer focused hospital or healthcare enterprise look like?”,  at http://bit.ly/1Hy6O09 to learn how.

2. Healthcare consumer & patient engagement
It’s a complicated world out there for the patient and healthcare consumer, so engagement is critical to success.  That is engagement at a very personal level and focus.  Remember that an individual is only a patient one-third of the time that encounters the hospital or health system.  The other two-thirds of the time they are a healthcare consumer. Engagement should be viewed as the opportunity to create, engage, foster and nourish an enduring relationship with those individuals and families.  See “Is healthcare consumer and patient engagement all of the time the new reality?”,  at http://bit.ly/1lXfook for tips and strategies to accomplish engagement.

3. Experience
There are over 145 different touch-points along eight dimensions of interaction, that a healthcare consumer and patient are exposed too that defines the experience. That is an awful lot of information used consciously and subconsciously by a healthcare consumer or patient.  The strategy and process that a healthcare provider must use, needs to be multiple in scopes, parallel to other efforts and integrated across multiple channels and touch-points in its approach.  For more information in this topic read “The healthcare consumer lives in a multi-channel environment; the response is? “, at http://bit.ly/1CwCLOe

4. Value
In today's world, it's about value, benefit, price and convenience to the healthcare consumer. It's about the answering the healthcare consumer’s question of what is my ROI for using you?  Does the level of experience and engagement equal the price paid.  If not the experience and engagement will most likely be subpar as well.  Here comes the three rating again.  This one really has an impact on marketing and sets the stage for the engagement and experience.  In “How is healthcare consumerism changing provider marketing?”,  at http://bit.ly/LZPZjO  addresses why value is very important in today healthcare world.

This is not easy by any means.   These four areas touch every aspect of the hospital and health system.  And the sooner one learns to integrate and focus on the needs of the health care consumer and patient, not the hospital or health system, the sooner the ratings will improve.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Are hospitals on the hot seat now, replacing pharma and insurers?

Whoa there now. Hospitals starting to be cast as the villains in the healthcare debate, after flying under the public radar  for so long as the bastions of fairness, and taking care of the communities and all who come to their doors? 

Maybe so.

In a Becker’s Hospital Review article on March 25, 2105 by Molly Gamble,  Hospitals: The new villains in the story of American healthcare? (What Slate has to say), posed some interesting thoughts based on a Slate article.


Villains?

Predatory monopolies?

Crooks?

Bleeding us dry?

Just because its Slate doesn't means it’s not a growing public sentiment. Pharma has had its time in the penalty box.  So have the insurers. And in a society and culture that thrives on the sensational and taking pot shots at celebrates and companies, it’s not a surprise really. 

There is after all a growing public scrutiny of hospitals prices and profits by nationally respected publications like Time magazine. Then there is the ever growing list of preventable deaths in a hospital killing 160,000 people a year.

Name one place in the nation after a merger or hospital acquisition that decreased competition in a market, where the price and cost of healthcare actually went down, or duplicative clinical services and technology were eliminated?  I can’t either.

And with an election coming up in 2016, at the first sniff of a major public issue, the politicians will be falling over themselves to be cast as the reformer protecting “the little guy” from the big bad greedy hospitals.

It’s early in the game, but the signs of a growing and potentially lethal public relations nightmare are in the offing. And the AHA won’t be able to save the hospital in the local market or major urban areas from inquisitive reporters, consumers with a story to tell, big headlines or negative TV news coverage.

What to do? Dust off that PR campaign!

Sometimes it’s back to the future and some good old public relations work that should be in the marking.  Dust off those old PR and communications plans by investing and building relationships with reporters.  Become the price and outcomes transparent hospital. Do the market research to completely understand what the brand image and reputation of the hospital is in the market.  The time is now for the development and crisp tactical execution of a long term and sustainable public relations campaign.  

There are no guarantees that it will work, but if the hospital starts now and gets ahead of the potential PR nightmare, then the hospital may just have a chance.

Or, one can ignore the growing hospital as a villain noise, and then wonder why everyone is so angry.