Monday, May 28, 2012

How can you market to physicians to increase volume and revenue?


Any number of healthcare organizations are looking to increase admissions or sell to drive revenue and volume by associated physicians.

Sales staffs are popping up all over like weeds-in-a-field, complete with goals and objectives, territories and sales quotas for specific docs along profitable clinical-lines and disease-states. In most cases they are managed by people who have never sold anything in their life. Little understanding of the relationship sales cycle, what is important to the physicians, their needs and ultimately their patients. The first time the sale person comes back to the organization with "This needs to change" request, it all breaks down because nobody internally wants to really change anything. We just want volume and revenue.

What's wrong with this picture?

To sell too physicians successfully, you need more than office lunches and how are the kids kind of conversations. Its about their experience in admitting, treating and referring patients to your emergency room, hospital, pharmacy, surgical center or a home care agency to name a few of the providers docs deal with on a daily basis. Everyone is out there with the send to me, me, me, message.

Its more than your own perceived features and benefits.

This is a relationship sell and your sales team needs to be on track with a common sales methodology that they all use. Leaving it up to the nice person in the medical staff office to do this because she makes the docs laugh, or assigning a sales managerial function to someone who has never sold a day in their life, especially in healthcare, is a receipt for disaster.

One of the great weaknesses in healthcare senior management is that people who are very well educated, read an article, go to a seminar and then think they know everything they need to know too implement a strategy. Healthcare leadership has got to change in this new consumer driven environment and learn they don't know everything. The sooner you make that realization the more successful you will be.


Be ready to make changes in how you do things. When your sales person comes back, and says he or she is finding a trend in obstacles physicians are encountering in admitting or practicing medicine in your organization, be ready to make meaningful changes. If not, your just wasting your time and money sending out people to increase volume and revenue from a physician or multispecialty group. Nothing worse than over promising and under delivering.

10 Steps for success

1. Hire a sales manager that has healthcare sales experience. Make it a VP level position at the senior management table. They drive strategy to make sure it is in sync with the organizational business plan and financial objects, as well as act as an agent for internal change.

2. Hire trained healthcare physician sales individuals. Lots of people from pharma and medical device companies make great hospital and other healthcare provider sales representatives.

3. Make sure that everyone is using the same sales methodology, techniques and materials. All sales and marketing materials should be designed for use in for the specific point in the sales cycle.. One size does not fit all.

4. Use a sales database system like SalesForce.com for example for accountability, tracking, etc., and make sure your marketing department has full access to the information. Mine the data for strategy and new opportunities.

5. Integrate your marketing and sales efforts from day one. You have to avoid the internal conflicts which arise and those "Marketing is clueless about what we need" or "The feet on the street don't sell it like we want them too", kind of conversations. Integrate and create a joint sales marketing committee to solve a lot of that. Make sure your marketing team is trained in the sales methodology the sales force is using. Marketing should also be attending sales calls.

6. Establish joint goals, objectives and revenue targets for sales and marketing. Share in the pain, share in the gain.

7. Make meaningful changes to your products and services based on the needs and expectations of your customers. That does not mean one-offs, but changes across the enterprise that will benefit many.

8. Remember it's about the brand, your brand promise and how your brand delivers upon those expectations.

9. Make sure that the entire organization knows what you are doing. Nothing more embarrassing or damaging when someone at any level of the organization is clueless and can't be supportive of the sales and marketing efforts. Makes you look like you do not know what you are doing.

10. Evaluate, monitor performance, make changes as needed in the program or staff and start the cycle again.

To your success.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Should outcomes transparency drive outpatient healthcare marketing?


Is nearly everyone missing the most important piece of the marketing puzzle to generate demand, revenue and market share in outpatient healthcare? Especially with the market competition heating up between hospital owned physicians/ clinics and the private sole practitioners/multi-specialty or single specialty group practices and retail clinics.

One area that is greatly lacking in most outpatient healthcare marketing, is an intelligent dialogue on your outcomes with your audiences. Payors', pharma and medical device, have recognized this and are leading in the use of quality and outcomes data to drive decision-making. It is time for the rest of the healthcare industry to catch up. And in my experience, it works, driving demand, volume, revenue and market share.

Where is the outcomes and quality data?

I maintain that even in this economy, there are healthcare dollars out there. Healthcare consumers willing to spend those dollars, if only that had a compelling reason to do so. With all other marketing avenues exhausted, healthcare executives weary from being in "survival mode" and facing new revenue pressures, one would think healthcare marketing would be able to answer some of these challenges.

Maybe it's time to give the healthcare consumer be it physicians, payers, government, employer, individual or family, or any other stakeholder you can identify, quality and outcomes data to make decisions?

That's really the only avenue left for healthcare providers, to start talking about quality and outcomes. Engaging in a meaningful dialogue, that goes beyond accreditation logos and quality awards from third parties, to an actual honest-to-goodness quality and outcomes disclosure and discussion.

A few healthcare providers are willing. Most are afraid of this direction. But, it's a strategy and tactic that can break the current cycle of avoidance and loss. Recognizing that your customers are best served by the healthcare organization that places them first in a meaningful way.

You have some choices here. Stay the course and do what you have been doing. Get lost in an endless paralysis by analysis loop. Mimic your competitors. Talk about quality and outcomes in vague terms. Or, be the first in your market, to establish a clear strategic marketing plan focused on your healthcare consumers about your brand, quality and outcomes.

If you are not willing to change, then don't expect a different outcome from doing the same old healthcare marketing that you have been.

Sooner or later, you are going to have to do this. Oh, and don't forget about price.


Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

So, how do you market the employed physician?


With a dynamically changing healthcare industry, employment of physicians is making a big comeback to the hospital industry. Born of necessity, hospitals and physicians are being driven by reimbursement declines, effectiveness and efficiency pressures, retail clinic competition and new opportunities. The drive to create ACOs in a value-based payment environment demands a different type of physician relationship. 

With this new opportunity to reinvent, revitalize and recapture what previously before had been an adventure on the part of hospitals with mixed results, it's time to discuss how one goes about marketing the employed physician.

First break from the past......

It's easy to look at this and say we'll just do what we did in the past in promoting employed physicians and be done with it. That is a dangerous mistake. Healthcare consumers/patients are making physician choices based price, location and convenience due to increasing co-pays and rising deductibles. If you're just going to throw some ads out there with a picture of a nice smiling doc with copy written in the third person about how wonderful and compassionate he or she is, you can expect dismal marketing failure.

What is needed is a new look at what you are doing and changing to meet the needs of your healthcare consumer, not you.

With great change comes great opportunity. That is if one is willing to embrace that change and find new ways of moving forward and creating value.

Your Brand. Your Value. The Patient Experience.

You need to communicate very strongly your brand and brand promise you are associating with the employed physician. Bring your brand to the forefront and brand the doc to you.  They represent your brand at an individual level. Capitalize on that opportunity and leverage.

Communicate the value that this physician brings to your community and the healthcare consumer. Communicate the value that the doctor brings to your brand. Stop talking at people, talk to them. Talk to them with compelling value driven reasoning why they should select that doctor, or even why they should even considering switching physicians.

Pay attention to the patient experience. How long is the patient waiting? is your web site easy to use. Can they schedule appointments online? How are they greeted? View the patient experience from beginning to end at ever touch-point along the continuum. Remember, a consumer is only a patient one-third of the time they interact with your physicians. Before care and after care, they are consumers, evaluating their experience with you at very touch-point that they come in contact. And just because you have high patient satisfaction results, that doesn't equate to a grand overall experience.

Stop wasting your money putting ads in papers that expect people to take action simply because the doctor is on your medical staff or in one of your buildings. That treats the healthcare consumer like they are idiots. They're not. They are demanding value and acknowledgement that they have a say in what's going on. If you won't meet their needs they will go somewhere else.

If you're not communicating value and what's in it for them for selecting your physicians, then you can put it in the bank that the healthcare consumer will pass on by and go where they perceive the value to be greatest for them in line with the price they are paying.

In the end, it's all about knowing what consumer/ patient needs are and delivering that in a convenient location at a price point that is affordable. If you think this is crazy, then why are the retail clinics taking you to lunch?

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Are you using social media, online marketing for an exceptional healthcare experience?

In the new world of healthcare where price, quality and a consumer paying more out-of-pocket costs for healthcare, social media and online marketing represents an opportunity that can be used advantageously to meet healthcare consumers demands for a better experience.

Social and online represents a great opportunity for patient/consumer/business directed healthcare organizations to break from the pack, by creating a social/online healthcare experience that is memorable, exceeding an individual, business or families experience and expectations.

Most healthcare organizations are still stumbling with using social media and the online experience to drive differentiation, meaningful information and experience.

In any case, when you look at your social media strategy and online presence, does it:

  • Delight your customer?
  • Create sustainable differentiation?
  • Is adaptable to new opportunities?
  • Leverages your investment?
  • Deliver in every situation?
Or, is it just pushing out information that is that you have deemed valuable to you, but carries no meaning for the information seeking consumer, or business? Does it meet the needs of those looking for solutions to challenges? Do you focus on features and benefits, not solutions or value?

This is the lens that you need to look through to objectively evaluate your efforts. If it's not doing these things, then chances are you are not delivering an exceptional social or online experience. But for that matter, neither are your competitors.

In the world of healthcare which is too much "me too", the social and online healthcare experience is pretty boring.

Make your social and online presence not just "good enough" but exceptional.

  
Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.