Monday, December 24, 2012

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year in 2013

Taking some time off to be with the family during Christmas and New Years.  To all my regular readers, those that stop by once in a while, and to anyone coming to Healthcare Marketing Matters for the first time, thank you for reading and commenting.

May you find peace and joy on the holiday season. May you have a successful and prosperous 2013.

My regular musings regarding strategic marketing issues in healthcare will resume in January, 2013.

Michael Krivich is  an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. 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.  Like us on  facebook at the michael J group.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Is the time right for a patient experience focus in healthcare advertising?

Living in a large metropolitan area with some pretty well recognized system heavyweights and Academic Medical Centers, I am fortunate enough to see a good deal of hospital and health system advertising. Anyhow, happy smiling patients, doctors looking intently into a microscope, nice building exterior shots and high-tech equipment all promoting, something, but clearly not the brand. High production values and in most cases using hired talent instead of employees. The best one was a group of specialists standing and proudly discussing the quality of the air in the patient rooms. Really?

I have said it before and I am saying it again, where is the differentiation? And what does the statement: "We have surgical air quality in all the rooms", mean? Does it even matter to a potential patient. "Quick, take me to that academic medical center that has really clean air in the rooms!", said the patient. Really?

Food for thought

Healthcare is changing and marketing needs to change along with it. Especially on how we approach the market, differentiate our hospitals, communicate value and build brand. If we continue to portray ourselves as "gee whiz" look at us with all these high-tech tools and research and clean air, all the while telling the consumer its really all about you without offering up a strong brand promise and call-to-action, than what is the point of spending all that money?

The patient experience will differentiate you.

If you focused the ad concept, copy and visuals on the patient experience and how it all fits together for the patients benefit, then you are differentiating. It is no longer about you, but about the patient. You can still tell your story, but in a much more powerful and compelling way. You can create a recognizable brand promise and value equation which the consumer will understand.

Focus on the patient.

Focus on their needs.

Focus on the patient experience to drive revenue.

Focus on the patient experience to differentiate yourself.

Most healthcare organizations are frozen in time, even more so now with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They are caught in a vicious planning cycle with no end in sight. Neither acting or reacting, most healthcare organizations are missing out on valuable market opportunities. They are doing what they have always done, approaching the market like consumers are idiots and are only impressed with high-tech machines, smiling happy patients, exterior building visuals and doctors looking into microscopes. There will be winners and losers. And that is already being determined while you wait and try to figure out what it all means.

Start meeting consumer needs and build your brand around experience and framing those expectations to your advantage.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. 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. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What is the value of your healthcare brand?

With healthcare changing so rapidly, is it time to move healthcare marketing beyond " it's all about us" to "it's all about you" through focused brand architecture containing a clear and compelling brand promise that proves every day the value of your healthcare brand to the healthcare consumer? Unless you are a brand new provider in the market, you have been beating the healthcare consumer for years now all about your features and benefits. They get it.

In today's brave new world, it's about brand value to the healthcare consumer, perceived and real along several dimensions that most healthcare organizations haven't paid too much attention too, but the healthcare consumer is. Your brand will be viewed and will be challenged by multiple audiences along these dimensions: price; outcomes; experience; access; convenience; and choice.

And if you don't have answers to these brand attributes that healthcare consumers are starting to look for, then you won't be able to answer their question of what is my ROI for using you?

If you aren't paying attention to how your brand is perceived in the market and what your key brand attributes are, then don't be surprised when the competition defines them for you. The healthcare consumer will define them as well and it won't be pretty.

Brand Value Marketing

This is about creating a brand through value marketing that is a creative exchange between people and organizations in the marketplace. It is a dynamic transaction that constantly changes based on the needs of the individual vies a vie what the healthcare organization has to offer.

So instead of talking about what you do every day, talk about what the value of what your brand accomplishes.

Instead of talking about programs and serves that everybody else has like your competitors, talk about the value of those same programs and services and brand promise of the value they bring to the healthcare consumer.

Try not saying we have the latest high-tech gizmo, but talk about the value of what that latest, greatest high-tech gizmo brings to the healthcare consumer.

Why just display those quality awards from third parties, when you can talk to the healthcare consumer about the value of what that award means to them. Leverage those third party awards to your brands benefit.

Stop talking at your audiences, talk to them in a meaningful way along your brand attributes. Talk to them about your brand, its value and how you are their partner by offering a value based solution exchange to their healthcare concerns.

It's time for healthcare CEOs, Boards and healthcare marketers to stop doing over and over again those things that are out-of-touch with the new reality that is healthcare. The healthcare consumer is awakening and demanding more. More proof. More value. Better price. More brand differentiation among competitors.

After all, 6 million Americans go off-shore for healthcare treatment every year. And major employers are cutting deals for certain procedures and flying employees elsewhere to receive better healthcare from your communities.

They can't all be wrong.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. 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. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Where does healthcare marketing go from here?


If you think because reform and the Affordable Care Act that marketing is just an unnecessary expense and you don’t need to invest resources, then you are in for a rude awakening. In the coming days, weeks, months and years ahead, marketing will become as important a department in healthcare organizations as another other department.

Here are the 10 market factors impacting why you need an “A” level marketing operation. Now.

1. Brand. Your healthcare brand will take more of a front and center stage in the new healthcare environment. It’s not just the logo or how displayed. It’s now about what your brand stands for, your brand promise and how you deliver on that each and every day in every encounter. Do you even know what your brand promise is?

2. Competition. Here it comes on a lot of different levels. On price. On outcomes. On organizational transparency. On patient experience. Long gone are the days of build it and they will come. Also gone are the days when you could get way with talking about private rooms, internet access, HD TVs, or how you are such wonderful people because you care. Patients, consumer’s employers and others are demanding information along meaningful attributes.

3. Patient experience. Still a top concern of senior leadership, patient experience across all touch-points needs to be improved. Not just the single clinical service un-integrated internal focus that most healthcare organizations take. Patient experience is about the totality and only improving one aspect of that experience leaves you vulnerable in other areas. It’s also about market research in understanding every detail and facet of that experience from the patient’s viewpoint, not yours. And that only comes from talking to your healthcares consumers.

4. Patient engagement. Different than experience, engagement is about actually developing a meaningful relationship with your healthcare consumers to build loyalty, change health behaviors and keep them from going out of network in a risk-sharing arrangement like an ACO to receive care. How do you expect to engage patients when you still send information “To our neighbors at” direct mail?

5. Demand management. Now, with a potential 40 million plus healthcare consumers having some type of insurance, the pent-up demand for healthcare services will be unleashed. That's good from the standpoint of the market in meeting the needs of healthcare consumers, but bad from the market standpoint of insufficient capacity to meet that demand. Healthcare marketing departments are going to have to learn how to manage demand and move that demand for service to the appropriate care setting and medical practitioner. Market some services and de-market others.

6. The networked healthcare consumer. The networked healthcare consumer is someone who has an intense curiosity about their health condition, expects to have an active role in making healthcare decisions and this is most important, they want control of their health information. They actively use the internet, social media , blogs, web site, apps and seek out others. They read and study about their health condition. They ask questions and will seek out alternatives. They look at providers from a quality standpoint and make judgments based on outcomes information. They want an answer to their own needs. The patient is asking what is their ROI by using you?

7. Physician Optimization and Integration. Marketing? Really? While you focus on integrating the newly employed physician or group practice and making them or keeping them profitable, how are you integrating them culturally into your healthcare system? Scant attention is devoted to such matters, but they are not trivial by any means. Culture is important and marketing should be playing a leading role in that acculturation process. Besides, you still have to work to continuously build the practice, so marketing better be there leading that effort. I have seen the physician practice operations consultants say they are strategic marketers and can do that. The great majority are clueless about marketing strategy and confuse strategy with tactics. Keep them in operations and out of marketing.

8. Marketing Strategy. Strategy and effective marketing operations is everything today in healthcare marketing. And if you have a bad strategy or no strategy, combined with marketing operational deficiencies, then no amount of tactical execution will overcome ineptitude. If you don't have a good strategy, any old road will get you to where you want to go, with significant inefficient resources utilization in cost, human capital and loss of return. Some of the verticals in the healthcare industry, are notorious for no strategy and just plain bad marketing operations, following the herd and just keeping the internal audience happy with what they want.

9. Return on Marketing Investment. No longer a nice to have, its a got to have. Unless you are measuring the outcomes of your marketing efforts along the dimensions of financial indicators, market share, brand, satisfaction, experience, brand, and its impact on organizational profitability, then why are you doing marketing "things". Marketing accountability is no different than accountability for any other part of your organization. And oh by the way, that accountability doesn't mean nice shiny marketing awards.

10. Marketing leadership. It's is time for marketing to get back to the leadership table. The healthcare marketing leader needed today must have a clear understanding of healthcare, clinical and business operations, as well as the business and financial plan. The healthcare marketing leader should be able to articulate those plans and integrate them into the strategic marketing plan of the organization. They should be able to step in and hold their own in discussions with CEOs, COO, CFOs and Boards. And that means holding those discussions in their terms. That requires a broad and deep understanding of healthcare operations to supplement your marketing education and experience.

You have a lot of work to do. No time like the present to start.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. 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. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

In loving memory of my mother Beverly S. Krivich nee Saylor




August 20, 1931 - November 30, 2012
 
An extraordianry mother and friend.
You are loved and will always be remembered.

81, passed away Friday, November 30, 2012 at Silver Cross Hospital, New Lenox. Beloved wife of the late John; loving mother of Michael (Julie), Theresa (Wayne) Mikulec, Steven (Donna), Susan (Michael) Mikoff, and Kathy (Michael) Amesquita; dear sister of Lynda (Bill) Ledbetter, cherished grandmother of Jonathan, Andrew (Melissa), Ryan, Miguel, Timothy, Brett, Tyler, Conner, Alexandria, and Rachel. Beverly was a member of St. Jude Catholic Church in New Lenox. Family will receive at Kurtz Memorial Chapel, 102 E. Francis Road, New Lenox, IL 60451 on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 from 3-8Pm. Funeral Service Wednesday, December 5, 2012 with prayers at 9:30AM to St, Jude Catholic Church, New Lenox for Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00AM. Interment St. Mary Cemetery, Evergreen Park, IL. In lieu of flowers, donations to the New Lenox Township Food Pantry, 1100 South Cedar Road, New Lenox, IL., 60451 appreciated. For information, Kurtz Memorial Chapel or 815-485-3200.

My regular postings for Healthcare Marketing Matters will return next week.

Michael J Krivich, FACHE, PCM