Monday, July 30, 2012

Is marketing healthcare Centers of Excellence valuable in shared-risk or value-based payment system?


Just about everyone has some kind of healthcare Center of Excellence and these programs are continually marketed by healthcare organizations. But does that marketing change in shared-risk or value-based payment environment? And if it does, then how do you market a Center of Excellence?

I believe that yes, the new healthcare payment models change the marketing and value of Centers of Excellence. And that is good at many different levels. In a shared-risk or value based payment environment, you will need qualitative and objective proof. That proof can come in many different forms, be it via outcomes, technology, accreditation, price, satisfaction etc.

Sure you can still say you have a Center of Excellence in an effort to obtain new payment agreements. But if that effort is not supported by pricing and outcomes transparency, then how do you prove to the newly minted healthcare insurance card carrying consumer in 2014, that yours is better than the one down the street?

The point here is that proud pronouncements on Centers of Excellence without transparency will become a thing of the past.

Marketing of a Center of Excellence in a value-based or risk-sharing environment takes on a very real purchaser focused approach. You will need to prove to all purchasers, be it government, insurance, consumer etc, of the value of your Center of Excellence along at least three dimensions, quality, outcomes and price.

So to market successfully you need to:

Define your value proposition and each value prop will be different based on the market segment.


Identify potential accrediting bodies for your Center of Excellence and achieve same.


Or, in the absence of accrediting bodies, do the research and set meaningful outcomes as benchmarks.


Decide what your marketing position is going to be. If it’s not superior, then what are you doing this? I mean really, who wants to go to a Center of Excellence that is perceived as market equivalent or inferior to your competitors?


Develop an outcome reporting mechanism tailored to your market segments.


Be price transparent as individuals are already shopping on price as it relates to out-of-pocket co-pays.


Communicate in terms people understand not about we do this, but in the value of the Center of Excellence to them, and how it meets their needs.


Develop and execute integrated marketing plans that are connected to the business and financial plan of the Center of Excellence covering traditional, social, and media.


Remain consistent with your brand architecture for the healthcare organization.


Use employer, insurance, physician and patient testimonials.


Constantly evaluate your marketing efforts, change when needed and do what I call fail fast.


Prove Return on Marketing Investment.

Marketing of Centers of Excellence in a shared-risk or value-based payment environment will be needed. But it will go beyond the current messaging so many utilizing that assumes build it and they will come. Now, build it incorrectly with same old marketing and they will not come.

I will be on vacation now till August 7, so, have a great week and thanks for reading.

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, July 22, 2012

Have you seen any goofy hospital advertising lately?


I have to admit, this is a pet peeve of mine, stupid hospital advertising. In a day and age where healthcare is experiencing great change, some hospital "marketers" and C-suite leadership continue to treat the healthcare consumer like they are some kind of idiot, incapable of making informed choices.

Do you believe that by offering a massage with a digital mammography, that women will choose to have their mammography at your facility? I would like to see the market research on that one. But then, odds are on that there wasn't any market research.

Remember, when you are marketing to individuals, they don't become a patient until they receive a service from you. So in one-third of the time in their interactions with you, the "person" is only a "patient" during diagnosis and treatment. Two-thirds of the time they are not patients, and most likely are arguing with your billing department about the charges.

And healthcare marketers wonder why no one takes them seriously.

Arguments aside, what should hospitals be advertising to create an unassailable market position, a strong brand, as well as an enlightened and informed consumer?

Is it the, "we are unique and world-class"? Even though The Joint Commission was just there for a sentential event.

Our technology is state-of-the-art. Never mind that a new technology was just introduced and you don't have it.

Another winner; we have the most shiny trophies and quality awards for several services. Oh, and even though we don't have a quality award for all services, if everybody else was as good as us message to go with it, "a 100,000 lives would be saved annually"! Really.

Or, how about the ever present focus on the physicians with messaging about having the best specialists in the region. And just so happens that these same physician practice medicine at the hospital down the street or across town. Hmm, does that make less qualified at the other place?

Then there is the here are the insurance plans we accept, you're the center of our world, followed by the we have big screen TVs and private rooms!

Let us not forget for a new hospital that just opened, "the air in your room is like the clean air in surgery."

I think, that pretty much for the most part, sums up the current state of hospital advertising.

And when several hospitals are staying all of these things at the same time in a market, do you really believe that the consumer is paying any attention at all, when there is so little differentiation, it all looks like "me too" and just shouting for attention?

I am sure it makes the Board, senior management and physicians feel good. All the while your audience receives absolutely no information that will help them make some of the most critical choices and decisions in their life.

And that can't go on any longer.

Time really to stop treating the healthcare consumer like they are some kind of idiot. People are coming to the realization that healthcare is not such the "black box that the consumer can't possibly "understand the complexity of medical care".

Time for meaningful information in the marketplace that will allow the healthcare consumer to become informed, educated and participatory in the care decision-making process. Time for marketing to begin to lead in hospitals instead of being order takers, and talking nonsense in their markets.

You should be transparent and talking about your outcomes. You need to engage in a meaningful dialogue that gives individuals the information that they want and need. The healthcare consumer is hungry for information and are searching the internet and other sources about you and how you perform. They are paying more of the cost. Demanding more say in what goes on. And don't like being treated like they are some small child who can't make a decision.

To use an often quoted metaphor, the wave of change is upon the hospital industry as we move from provider-dominated and controlled decision-making, to consumer and patient-directed, controlled healthcare. Your choice, change, be responsive and surf the wave to success, or be washed over and deposited on the ash heap of history.

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, July 15, 2012

How can you successfully market your ACO?


Now that PPACA is the law of the land, private and public ACOs will be springing up like weeds in a field. It may really be the last best chance to bend the cost and quality curve of the American healthcare system which is unsustainable. After all, its now about the right care; at the right time; for the right cost; in the right care setting.

In the end though, the basic premise remains the same, to engage the patient, aka the healthcare consumer, in the care and treatment decision making process. The marketing challenge before you is to attract members to your ACO, engage and retain them with outcome and price transparency delivered with an exemplary customer/patient experience.

In entering the brave new world of ACOs, here are some things that you need to consider for marketing:

1.) Transparency and Quality dashboards. This is about improving care, using best practices, learning and improving as a system to the individual level, by engaging the patient. If you do not plan to report back on at least a quarterly basis to your audiences, you will not be successful. You must be prepared to provide individual level utilization and quality patient reports, to engage the person in a meaningful way, to create change health behaviors, foster appropriate utilization of services and reduce costs.

2.) Voice of the Customer (VoC) program. You gave to be in constant contact and monitoring member attitudes, beliefs and reactions to you. VoC. It's all part of the patient experience program and process. These are open networks, if you are not fully and completely customer focused, trouble will ensue and it won't be pretty,

3.) Ongoing customer experience management program and process. This isn't just about delivering a exceptional customer service at the point of care. You must identify all customer touch-points, from beginning contact to end point, and mange that experience across all of those touch-points.

4.) Highly integrated marketing plans. You will need to integrate your messaging like never before across the traditional, online, mobile and social media platforms. You can't afford not too. You also need a presence in all platforms. One that is sustainable over time through dedicated marketing resource allocation. One shot ads won't work ; develop sustainable integrated campaigns.

5.) Comprehensive member communications. Ongoing communications beyond health and wellness tips. Communications that are individualized, engage the patient and are meaningful. They must also be delivered the way that the member wants them, be it on an Ipad, member web portal, email, hard copy etc. One size does not fit all.

6.) White pares and case studies. This is about transparency and quality that is data driven. It's about accountability to your members, payers, employers and physicians. Medical device, pharma and specialty pharmacies have been engaged in white papers and case studies driven by data for years. And it works. But, it will make you uncomfortable if you have never engaged in this type of activity and communication vehicle .

7.) Marketing leadership. Marketing especially in most, not all hospitals and health systems, needs to move from the basement and take its seat at the senior management table, reporting directly to the CEO. . Marketing now needs to be seen in hospitals and health systems as a defined, accountable strategy , that is fully integrated into the business plan. That doesn't happen if marketing is not present and engaged in the discussions at the highest possible level.

8.)Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI). In an ACO, there is just no doing things because someone wants them. Every action must be measureable against a defined goal and objective. Every action must have a call to action. Every action must evaluated against a predetermined ROMI. If you are not held accountable and your activities are not measured, then how will you know you were effective and produced results. What gets measured get done.

9.) Marketing automation systems. Need I say more. Marketing needs these systems to understand markets, track activities and campaigns, as well as produce various marketing reports and dashboards. This really in concept is no different than financial reporting, clinical reporting, quality reporting systems etc. Capital budgets will have to be allocated to marketing in order to automate marketing functions and planning.

10.) Marketing staff evaluation. This is probably the hardest activity, but few have the level of staff with the expertise and capability, to operate in an ACO environment. You don't know, what you don't know. Clayton Christensen understands and says, " ACOs are a disruptive business model and they must compete for consumers. Providers that are not accountable and transparent will lose, and those that meet patient needs and improve care will win." Your marketing staffing, organizational structures and resources will be to be changed and adjusted in order to meet new market conditions.

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, July 8, 2012

What is your market position in healthcare?


With the reformation of healthcare in the U.S. moving forward full speed ahead, most healthcare providers will need to undertake a full detailed examination of their position in the market vies a vie their competitors.

A simple question that is not easily answered. That is, if you're being honest.

Positioning is not a tactic. It is a strategy.

If someone in your organization tells you it's a tactic then they are once again showing that they don't marketing, and don't know what they are talking about. And just because you think you are superior, and say so in your marketing, doesn't mean the market sees you as superior. Too much organizational group think at play perhaps?

There are really only three positions you can have in a market, superior, equivalent or inferior. And just saying you have the newest hi-tech equipment, offer world-class care, revolve around the customer, build a new building, or produce a white paper does not, let me repeat, does not mean you hold a superior market position, or even a thought-leadership position for that matter.

If your market share has not changed much over the last few years your are not in a superior position. If revenue has not grown but stayed steady, you are not in a superior position. If your products, solutions and services are haven't changed much, then you are not in a superior market position.

If customers keep asking you about what you are doing in an area, then you are in an inferior market position. If your market segments can't tell the difference between you and someone else, you are in an equivalent position.

And when all things are equal, people buy on price.

And with all the potential families and individuals with health insurance becoming available, if you haven't established a superior market position, then an equivalent or inferior position gets you into a price war. In value-based and P4P payment programs, superior brings more revenue. Equivalent market positions brings less; while inferior positions will penalize you.

So before you start marketing, you need to take a closer look at your market position, how you are positioning your healthcare organization and the market position you need to dominate and control.

That is marketing strategy first. Tactics to get you to that position, second.

No more do-over's. You either position yourself correctly first and control the market, or it controls you.

Your choice, superior, equivalent or inferior, choose or it will be chosen for you.

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, July 1, 2012

Is the SCOTUS reform ruling a healthcare marketing change opportunity?


The die is cast and the way forward never more clear. Value-based payment, physician integration, bundled payments, population health, demand management, ACOs, P4P structures evolving and leading the transformation of healthcare as we know it. All of which is followed by the slow and painful demise of fee-for-service payments. Enter now into the reality of healthcare where quality, accountability, reduced care fragmentation, value for the price paid and innovation are king.

And with great change comes great opportunity.

How do you market in a time of upheaval and charge? Especially as healthcare providers must compete on outcome transparency, quality and cost. A triple threat and uncharted territory. Outcomes data will be the driver and available to the consumer to make an informed choice. A monumental shift in the market place of who controls the information. What worked in the past won't work tomorrow.

Brand

Your message needs to be clear and concise, echoing your brand promise and the value that you bring though your care system to the consumer or the insurer. Focus on outcomes not high-tech or touchy- feely. Consumers are too sophisticated for such a simple message.

How you position yourself a vie others is critical and you get one shot. You need to do it right. Remember, you can only take one of three positions in the market, superior, equivalent or inferior. The initial positioning of your brand is one of the most critical tasks you face. With an informed consumer bearing more of the cost, you have one shot to get it right. No do over's anymore.

Make sure your brand name and logo is consistent throughout the organization. Commit to excellence in customer service and create a Voice of the Customer program to establish and maintain a continuous feedback loop with your key customers. This is not lip service; this is real change. Failure to do so will label you as inferior. Poor customer service is no longer acceptable.


Marketing Leadership

Marketing is strategy first, tactics second. The voice of marketing should reflect the voice of your customers and not be a second thought. Your future programs and services will be determined by the needs of the market, not your gut feeling. You cannot become a customer-driven or market-driven organization if the skills and experiences of marketing is not at the leadership table.

Patient Experience

Use patient testimonials in everything you do and physician testimonials for everything related to referring physicians. Make sure your docs are doing their part in outreach to other physicians and getting medical information and the patient returned to the primary care doc as quickly as possible.

Understand from the patients and family's viewpoint the entire customer experience from beginning to end and make sure that execution is flawless. Out-service the other hospitals and clinics. Shortened waiting time, faster results, technology you have etc. The object is to turn patients as much as possible into customer evangelists. Word-of-mouth referrals but you can only do that through service experience. I did series of posts on Customer Experience Management, read those they should help

Price Transparency

Out price where you can the other hospitals for the insurance payers. Lock down the network, make sure you accept all the plans that your patient and referring docs accept. Make sure in your materials that you list all of the insurance plans you accept. Work the payers to set yourself up as the preferred provider. And make a big deal of that. Get the payers and insurance companies to do some heavy lifting for you by getting them to let their members know you are a preferred provider.

Outcomes Data

One area that is greatly lacking in 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.

Use outcome data where you have it.

Population Health Education

Patient education is a great medium to reinforce your brand, your brand promise and create customer evangelists. But that of course assumes, that you are doing original work in patient education. And not, just throwing together one-page disease information sheets, or using information from associations or pharma. Just because you throw some patient education materials in a box, doesn't mean that you are accomplishing anything. Other than your materials possibly reaching the recycle bin.

This is by no means a knock on any association or pharma materials, for they are great sources of information and advice. They just lack an organizational imprint of who you are, your brand and brand promise, to be able to showcase the breadth and depth of your knowledge and expertise. And that imprint doesn't mean putting your logo on the materials.

Besides the pervasive fear of competitors seeing what you are doing, patient education materials need to be on your web site and in easily accessible and downloadable formats. You can use QR codes in your mobile marketing that take individuals to the patient education section. Reference them in your communications programs. Build a marketing strategy around them to differentiate you from other providers.

Hold wellness classes and seminars on topics that people want to learn about, even use the Internet to do doctor led webcast.

Traditional Marketing

Direct mail, it still works.

In advertisements, make sure that there is a photo of the physicians for the service and patient testimonials about that doctors care and treatment. Use outcomes data.

Advertise that you are more than just a hospital, but a comprehensive healthcare center that does many things.

Set your docs up as expert subject matter content experts for local print and electronic news outlets. It never hurts, crank out press releases when you can.

Make sure your employees deliver an very high level of customer/patient service. Look at your patient satisfaction scores and see where you can improve.

Work with your admitting physicians to make it as easy as possible for them to admit patients to your hospital or seek treatment for outpatient services such as lab, ex-ray etc.

Use Social Media

Don't forget social media and how powerful a medium it is to create customer evangelists.

Keep in constant communication with your patients/consumers/members. Use all the tools available. You are only limited by your imagination. Facebook, twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn etc. People are wired today and expecting the same of you. Integrate social media in all that you do.

Make sure your web site is user friendly and easy to scheduled appointments or pay bills and contain wellness information.


Build Loyalty

Create a loyalty program. This is not a taboo and except for government program beneficiaries in Medicare and Medicaid or other government funded programs. You can create a loyalty program. Fact is not all patients are the same so you might as well take advantage of it before others do. It can be a powerful differentiator. Step out and be creative.

Understanding and Execute Demand Management

The hospital is no longer the center of the healthcare universe. Marketing needs to understand what the demand for healthcare services will be, when they will be needed and manage that demand making sure that the hospital or health system has the right resources, in the right place, at the right time to meet demand. The days are rapidly slipping away where marketing will be driving demand to fill hospital beds. You will drive demand to the appropriate place and location of service, at a price the market is willing to pay.

Live long and prosper.
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.