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

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.

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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, January 31, 2015

What does a customer focused hospital or healthcare enterprise look like?

 James Cullen, CEO of Conach Consulting and a former hospital CEO, asked me to consider writing an article which describes what a customer-focused hospital or health system looks like, from a customer’s perspective?  The question from James was a result of the Healthcare Marketing Matters blog post, “Can healthcare providers become customer-focused enterprises?”  http://bit.ly/1COdz7c.
The question was indeed fortuitous, as the news coverage this week in various hospital and provider focused news outlets,  reported that consumerism is one of the top concerns on CEO minds these days.

 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 healthcare consumer will think so too”. The answer to the question is really a two-part answer. And a hospital cannot arrive at the promised land of being a customer-focused healthcare enterprise, unless it accomplishes part two of the answer. 

Part One- The Health Care Consumer

Think of one’s 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 clearly understandable across any of the platforms of my choosing.  The experience from the first contact to the last encounter is seamless, meaningful and totally integrated.  Proactive recommendations are sent and tailored to the individual healthcare consumer’s needs be that educational or preventative care. During the engagement process, trust is built and in the case of previous utilization, trust 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’s it 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's perspective during the process of care.  It does not measure external influences or needs. High satisfaction scores while important do not make a customer-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 lessons of the past to find the solutions of the future, 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 the total healthcare consumer-centric enterprise requires two things. First is outward market orientation. The second is the culture and behavior to support across all levels of the organization the customer-focused business model.

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

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

Intelligence Generation
1.    Meeting  with customers 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 in customers preferences
4.    Annual surveys of customer perceptions which is different than satisfaction measurement

Intelligence Dissemination
1.    Regular interdepartmental meetings on market trends and development
2.    Important developments within the market or with key 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 customer 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 customer-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 customer-focused.

The culture and behavior of the healthcare enterprise influences 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 culture and behavior of the organization is in alignment with the underlying organizational beliefs and values.

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

Senior management
1.    Committed to and takes action on being customer-focused
2.    Drives business and financial planning based on the needs of customers
3.    Utilizes  market data in decisions
4.    Business development  is externally focused on meeting the needs of customers
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 hand-off 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.    Mechanism is in placed to share customer related data
5.    Continuous evaluation and training on organizational customer centeredness
6.    Strict standards regarding customer service competency skills for all positions
7.    All touch-points  of the customer experience are integrated and seamless

Organizational Culture
1.  Organization's core values are widely shared and intensely held
2.    Senior management establishes norms of customer 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

Customer centrality  cannot be marketed into existence with campaigns and forays into the market with “customer-centric messages” or internal declarations of customer focus.  Sooner or later the healthcare consumer will figure it out.  Employees will see it as the flavor of the day and wait it out until the next grand leadership vision comes around.  As in a previous post, the customer-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.

This is about changing the healthcare enterprise's DNA.  The customer-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 evolves into a consumer-centric retail 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.

Time to get to work and reap the rewards.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Top 15 posts from Healthcare Marketing Matters in 2014

With the New Year approaching and many on vacation, I thought that I would look back over the last year of Healthcare Marketing Matters (HMM), which led to my own top 15 for 2014 based on page views.   Healthcare changes so quickly now it seems like yesterdays thoughts are ancient history.  But more often than not, those strategic writings show how valuable healthcare marketing can be in a time of great change.

A major milestone was crossed when Healthcare Marketing Matters passed the 200,000 pages viewed mark.  HMM continues to be read in 52 counties and in order of the most readership: United States; United Kingdom; France; India; Russia; Canada; Germany; Norway, China;  and Indonesia.  Average page views are over 5,000 per month.

 With that in mind, here are the top 15 posts from 2014 in Healthcare Marketing Matters. Thank you for reading. I know I am looking forward to another exciting year of change in 2015 as healthcare becomes more retail focused, and consumer friendly then it was on 2014. After all, it’s an evolution that is gaining increasing velocity and way past the tipping point for slowing down or stopping.

Happy New year everyone.  Best wishes for a prosperous 2015. 

Top 15 Healthcare Marketing Matters Post 2014
1.       How can healthcare marketing become a blue ocean strategy? http://bit.ly/1cfbFCr

2.       Can social media drive healthcare consumers to the hospital? http://bit.ly/1i45z7H

3.       Is social media in hospitals easy? http://bit.ly/1dQnNqr

4.       What don’t hospitals get about social media? http://bit.ly/1p8afyF

5.       Is retail healthcare all about the price? And can the hospital compete? http://bit.ly/1r4e6Rh

6.       Social media, hospitals and Facebook, a place to engage consumers? http://bit.ly/1hv0Rh9

7.       Should healthcare providers change marketing in an era of reform?  http://bit.ly/1lAJM9j

8.       Will healthcare marketing change with big data availability? http://bit.ly/1tm892k

9.       Is patient experience management more than a single touch point focus? http://bit.ly/14qzdDx

10.   Is story telling the new healthcare marketing? http://bit.ly/108kfjF

11.   How can the hospital dominate the five healthcare markets? http://bit.ly/ZkHdmW

12.   Can Google Glass improve the patient experience? http://bit.ly/1pRuRZn

13.   Is it time for hospital advertising to change? http://bit.ly/1s7a6wd

14.   Is healthcare consumer and patient engagement all of the time the new reality? http://bit.ly/1lXfook

15.   What happens when social media goes awry? http://bit.ly/1tpqaLh


Monday, July 28, 2014

What can fastpitch softball teach healthcare marketers?

As I sit in the hotel waiting for the start of the USSSA 16U A Fastpitch Softball World Series to begin, with my thoughts that this is the last tournament for my daughter after 10 years of playing, I wondered what lessons are there for healthcare marketers if any?

As a left -handed pitcher Alex has had to learn how to handle success and failure. Endure her fielding or pitching errors and the errors of others that affected the outcomes of games.  Transition from one team to another and all along, building new team relationships and chemistry regardless if it was an intact returning team or a new one.  Plus learning new pitches and becoming a pitcher during the off-season work.

The older you get as you move up the age brackets the harder the game becomes because everyone is good. So it’s just not about throwing fast; the game becomes about  learning and having command the off speed pitches and hitting locations to keep really good batters with $500 composite bats off balance. It’s becoming a pitcher not a thrower.  Oh and handle extreme in-game stress of a one run game with bases loaded in the bottom of the 7th inning with two outs, the No. 4 hitter and a 3-2 count.

So here are my ten lessons for healthcare marketers from fastpitch softball:

1.       Keep calm. Healthcare is changing in ways that has turned the market upside down.  That doesn’t mean the game is over. It just means your strategy needs to change because the market is rushing ahead of you.
2.       Change it up! If you keep doing what one has always done, this market will just pound the daylights out of the organization. Stop doing the same things the same way like one has always done.
3.       Fail Fast. Mistakes happen as a result of errors and that is just a fact of life. Plans don’t work always as intended. When things go awry stop and change to get a better result.
4.       Hit your locations. Delivering the same message the same way every time is a prescription for disaster. People stop paying attention so one has to move the messages around and use all of the channels available.
5.       Build the marketing team capability and chemistry.  That may mean new players. Change is good and everyone needs to learn new marketing skills and to play nice in the sandbox.  One cannot be successful if there is no team chemistry and the team members can’t fill in for another. New skills breed new ideas and capabilities.
6.       Listen to your coaches i.e., leadership. It may seem like an oxymoron sometimes especially with marketing because anyone can do it, but you need to be at the leadership table and understand the business strategy, operational plans and financial challenges. Only then can one make a positive contribution.
7.       Do the unexpected.  That keeps your competition off balance. One can build the organizational marketing story and meet the healthcare consumer’s needs before anyone else has the chance. When someone is expecting a fastball throw a change or a curve.
8.       Know the strengths and weaknesses of the team and competitors. Put team members in positions and situation to win. Go after competitors at their weakest point. If they can’t cover a bunt keep doing it until they learn how, then hit away.
9.       You win some; you lose some. No organization is perfect so put the loss behind you and learn from it.  Enjoy the wins for a brief moment but move in to the next game. Best marketing team effort will have you winning more than losing.
10.   Have fun and play with passion. I think that is the biggest lesson from all of this. Life is about passion, friendships, success and learning from failure. No one remembers who pitched the no-hitter or who hit the grand slam in any particular game. Work is the same. Have fun and play with passion. Life is too short.

Thanks for reading. It’s time for the first pitch.