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.

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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.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Are You Preparing for Walgreens Entry into Primary Care?

Funny how it all comes around.

Let’s power up the “way back machine” and travel back in time to Sunday, January 13, 2013, for a post titled Will the Walgreens ACOs bring real competition to healthcare?” http://bit.ly/ZLLWY6

In this post, I speculated what, from a brand and care delivery perspective, it meant for hospitals and health systems with Walgreens entry into the ACO market. I also touched briefly on their considerable home health care and infusion presence with the purchase of Option Care Home Care and Infusion, the Take Care Clinics in stores, Workplace Health, and plans to enter the durable medical equipment channel. 

Fast forward to 2020.

During the intervening seven years, Walgreens merged with Boots Alliance in Europe to become the Walgreens Boots Alliance, with management changed becoming predominantly European. With the new regime, a new market strategy and focus of Walgreens took shape by dismantling the retail medicine strategy and selling off the pieces it all off, leaving just the drug stores.

Now, it’s back to the future with Walgreens the announcement that they are going into primary care. 

Image by Alterio Felines from Pixabay

Can you imagine the powerhouse Walgreens would be today had the new management understood the U.S. healthcare market and executed on a comprehensive strategic roadmap for retail healthcare? Hindsight is always 2020, they say. I guess that is why Walgreens just announced a new president to lead Walgreens that is American.

Which, brings us full circle to the title of today’s blog post, Are You Preparing for Walgreens Entry into Primary Care?” 

·         Are you ready to compete against the Walgreens brand awareness and name? 

·         Are you ready to compete based on the number of locations?  

·         Are to ready to compete based on convenience and accessibility? 

·         Are you ready to compete based on price? 

·         Whose brand do you think will make more of an impact when the time comes for people to find primary care physicians, your physician referral service, or Walgreens?

Much of what I wrote seven years ago still stands as valid for today. There is a lot more, and I, for one, do not doubt the ability of the brain trust over on Wilmot Ave in Deerfield, Illinois to pull this off and be successful along with any number of quality, outcome, or financial measures. 

After all, when the original strategy was put in place, I was the marketing executive for Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy at Walgreens Health Initiatives.  Maybe they will bring the band back together in some form and reprise the retail medicine strategy, which is more needed during the pandemic.

If I were in a hospital or health system today, I’d be worried. Things are about to get a lot harder than they already are.




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.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Digital Stories- the Missing Hospital Marketing Opportunity?

You may be missing an opportunity to tell the hospital brand story by not leveraging digital stories.

Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay


In “Time spent per day with digital media vs. traditional media in the U.S. 2011—2020”, June 17, 2020, Statista found that individuals spend, on average, 7.5 hours per day looking at digital media. That is a lot of time per day spent looking at a screen- be it a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. Facebook revealed that over 1 billion users per day use stories. On Instagram, users spend between 24- and 32-minutes watching stories. Marketing Land found from brands using stories, that between 15 to 25 percent of Instagram story viewers will swipe up when links are provided.

I realize that these stats are related to CPG brands. My intent here isn’t to say that the hospital needs to market like a consumer-oriented company but to point out the opportunity of digital vs. traditional media.  

The hospital has an engagement problem.

When you consider the amount of time a patient spends on viewing digital media, it will make sense to shift a large percentage of resources from traditional marketing activities. The digital engagement opportunity is to tell the story of the hospital to the patient or potential patient on their terms on their digital platform of choice. You can’t promote the hospital story as well with traditional media.

Additionally, the need is critical for the hospital to lead the community out of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic with credible, accurate information to dispel the dangerous and misleading COVID-19 information in the community.

What is a story?

Stories are the storytelling of the hospital brand on social media. You can use video, photos, text, emoticons, and tags to create both long-form and short-form content. They are uploaded from a mobile device, only visible on mobile devices, recorded in vertical format, and usually expire in 24-hours. Though, YouTube stories will last for seven days. The stories themselves are a series of slides. Think PowerPoint but without the overloaded text and content on each slide. The story section of a social media app is in the prime position at the top of the screen, with a circular image displayed in line with a colored circle surrounding the story.

A word of caution. Each app will have its story features such as Geo-filters, GIFs, and time limits. One size does not fit all, so you need to understand the pros and cons of each social media platform. If not already, you may want to consider marketing automation tools for stories that you can use for creating and posting.

The stories will shift automatically from one vertical screen to another when viewing the story and then, at the conclusion, move to the next story to be displayed. The user can, at any time, swipe left to leave the story and move on to the next. Between stories, one usually finds brand advertising with instructions for viewers to swipe up to learn more.

What social media platforms should the hospital use?

Image by PixelKult from Pixabay

To get started, if you are not already, I would recommend the most popular story features on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, and WhatsApp. Bonus, since Facebook owns Instagram, the story you create on Instagram can be shared to Facebook and Messenger.

Eight best practices to make your stories stand out. 

1.       Keep it upright. A vertical orientation is a key to an engaging story. Look at the real estate of the window you have to work with and go from there. 

2.       Start and end with your brand messaging. You can use your logo, brand-relevant hashtags, slogans, and other relevant hashtags. If you are going to have a call to action, place that in the second to last slide.

3.       Use high-quality creative elements. How your story looks and feels will make or break it—no clip art. Use images, video, typography, placement, and messaging with thoughtfulness. Remember, you’re telling a story, it needs to be interesting. 

4.       Create a contrast between your slides. Breaking up the narrative can hold your audience’s attention and keep them engaged—the easiest way to create contrast between sides. 

5.       Build and Maintain Momentum. Stories are immersive, interactive, and quick. Snappy visual content keeps people engaged. The key here is speed to meet the user’s expectations, not yours. 

6.       Don’t spam with stickers. It is easy to get carried away, adding stickers thinking it will liven the slides up. Stickers can drive engagement and interest, especially if they are interactive. Use too many stickers, and the user will move along. 

7.       Create a strong call to action. Don’t be shy about driving further engagement with a strong call to action. The propose here is interaction to drive engagement with the hospital brand. Provide a link for the viewer to engage further. 

8.       Test and test some more. There is no perfect formula for creating stories. It would be best if you generate ideas, create updates, test them, analyze the data, and improve.

At the end of the day, that random direct mail postcard I just received from a hospital was traditional and quaint, but have little, if any, engagement value. I, like others, are digital natives. It is time the hospital became a digital native as well.

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.