|Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay|
Think for a moment using the lens of marketing and ask what a hospital or health system does control? Do they control the insurers? No. They negotiate but do not control them. Do they control Medicare or Medicaid? Do they control the independent physician they need to utilize the hospital inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room facilities and services? No. Can they control the patient at any other time when they are not in the system of care receiving some medical care? I think that is a no as well.
For the sake of the discussion, let's agree that control is too harsh a word in its truest sense. So maybe the better choice would be the ability to influence the patient and others. However, the answer would still be a resounding no from a brand marketing viewpoint, especially in a buyer's market beginning to exist today.
Four areas of influence to manage.
The four areas that ultimately impact the hospital or health systems' ability to survive are payors, physicians, patients, and influencers. As healthcare transformation accelerates through innovation in care, new entrants, accessibility, choice, and price demonstrates that the hospital or health system has little, if any, control or influence. If there were control and influence, providers would be proactive instead of reactive or even "circling the wagons."
Now that being said, what if anything can be done?
Providers need to influence the choices and decisions of the patient and physician. And it doesn't matter where the audiences are found, be it in the insurance exchanges, work, the community, or social media. When faced with factors beyond one's control, it can be easy to take the viewpoint and action based on past solutions. However, convincing oneself that the past efforts to stay at the top of the food chain will continue to work going forward is a prescription for failure. Familiarly breeds contempt in this case.
So how is influence in a turbulent market accomplished?
Reluctant to change but mandatory for survival and growth, the hospital now needs to focus on these four areas, brand, experience, engagement, and price.
To achieve market influence, the sweet spot for the provider brand now sits at the intersection of the four areas. The four quadrants of influence should be considered as intersecting, not as separate unrelated areas, posing additional challenges and opportunities. Everything is interrelated now and not isolated.
It starts with the understanding that the hospital controls little, if anything, outside of the four walls of care. But the opportunity to influence everything with a strong brand, brand promise, and patient focus exists.
Creating influence in what is evolving into a patient buyer's market falls along four dimensions. And those dimensions are entirely in the hospitals' control to strengthen and leverage.
Indeed, it's time for the hospital to influence the market instead of waiting for events to overtake them.
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 Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow American College of Healthcare Executives. An influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The opinions expressed are my own.