Sunday, April 28, 2013

Why not tell your markets how they are changing your delivery of healthcare?


With 2014 close at hand, and the healthcare consumer taking even more control in their healthcare choices in the rapid evolution of healthcare from a provider-dominated, and directed industry to a consumer-driven industry, significant changes need to take place in how we market and do business.

Being responsive, outcome transparent, delivering an exceptionally consistent patient experience from first contact through post purchase, you're finding that meeting individual expectations, and needs is never easy. But as many successful healthcare companies will attest, these are no longer nice to have business requirements, but got to have requirements in order to survive.

Not everyone will be in an ACO, Patient Medical Home, Medicare or expanded Medicaid program in 2014. You will still need to compete for that individual patient at some level. Bundled payments are not going to change that. In mean really, how much different will your price be from the competition? Healthcare consumers love bundled payments because they add price certainty to the cost of care. Price too high and no one chooses you. Price too low and people will question the quality. Welcome to consumer directed healthcare.

If you are engaged in Patient Experience Management across the whole organization, then you are listening, learning, changing and adapting your business model in how you are delivering healthcare to your customers, and patients. And in doing so can deliver exceptional brand value.

Why not tell your audiences how they are changing your delivery of healthcare?

The patient who extols your virtues. The doctor who admits patient nowhere else. The staff member that provides exceptional care and service day-in and day-out. The volunteer delivering papers each day to patients for the past 30 years. The supplier, medical device manufacturer, and others who because of their innovation make it possible for you to be in the position to deliver cost efectuve quality care.

Making the mundane seem exceptional is what separates the truly successful from the also-ran. You can use these examples to frame the experience of your organization. Set the expectation that what you do is extraordinary. Prove it with outcomes. Prove it with experience. Prove it with the testimonials. It's the healthcare consumer, the patient experience, and how we portray that experience to our audiences that will differentiate you.

This marketing approach lends itself to developing measurable effective marketing campaigns. It allows you to personalize, and strengthen your brand. It's about the value to the patient and healthcare consumer that you provide for the price paid.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pheed.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Will healthcare consumers understand how to buy health insurance from an exchange that includes you?

I have been reading and seeing a lot of information lately that consumers will be clueless when entering a Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) to purchase health insurance for the first time. Health insurance companies and governments are gearing up to spend millions in educating the healthcare consumer regarding purchasing health insurance in a HIX.

You have a very big stake for participating in this marketing game.

But wait this gets even better. These first time buyers are going to include those who are employed, whose companies decided to throw in the towel on a cost basis in favor of a defined contribution benefit, and send their employees on their merry way to buy their own coverage. That is if they don't drop their hours below the threshold for mandated employer insurance first. Or, they could opt to pay a penalty for not providing healthcare coverage which in some cases will be cheaper than providing coverage.

So where is the marketing opportunity for you because not everyone will be eligible for expanded Medicaid coverage?

I case you are thinking that all you have to do Mr. and Ms. Hospital Executive is sit back, and deal with the new demand for care, how can you be sure the newly insured healthcare consumer will chose plans that include you from the HIX? Right now you can't. Unless of course you start an educational marketing program that educates about insurance and the value you bring to the healthcare consumer by you being included in their choice of plans networks.

This is more than negotiating with every plan available, and being included. In the brave new world of healthcare reform moving an industry to a consumer directed system, purchasing health insurance is going to become very quickly a big deal. And in some pilots its already been learned that when there is a 10 percent difference in premium, the healthcare consumer exhibits consumerist shopping behavior, and chooses the lower cost health plan with the narrower restrictive provider panel limiting their choice, Wall Street Journal article on Friday, March 1, 2013, "Another Big Step in Reshaping Healthcare".

If I were running a hospital, you can bet my marketing department would be figuring out the educational campaign to target those healthcare consumers buying health insurance in the HIX, how to buy insurance that included me, and affiliated physicians. And that doesn't mean a list of insurance plans or doctors.

You have a real opportunity with an effective healthcare marketing campaign to influence choice at this point in time which will have a direct bottom line impact. Wait, and it will be too late to influence the newly empowered healthcare consumer plan and network choice.

Opportunity like this knocks only once. I hear someone at that the door, better answer.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pheed.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Who are the new healthcare paparazzi?


Well, I don't know about you, but it's just a matter of time before the evolving healthcare consumer lets lose the barrage. It can be patients, doctors, employers, payers. Really anyone that has Internet access can participate in Customer Generated Media (CGM). It can be a great unknown. It can be helpful. It can be harmful. It can be your best friend, or your worse nightmare. It has the power to influence thousands, if not millions in this mobile social media aware society we live in. CGM can make your brand the greatest on the earth. It can send you to the ash heap of history.

Anybody can blog.

Anybody can do a video.

Anybody can start an email campaign.

Anybody can create a facebook page, web site or tweet.

And anything they say or do has the chance to go viral.

Sorry to say this, but not everyone thinks you doing the great job that you think you are.

If your marketing department is not monitoring CGM and your patient experience from a brand perspective, then you and your hospital, health system, home health care agency, infusion center, specialty pharmacy, payer, physician practices, or any healthcare organization is at risk. People are no longer afraid any longer to say things publically.

It means that in the age of the Internet, disgruntled consumers and patients, unhappy employees, media, anybody, can opinionate about their experiences, post photos, interviews and show to the world how good or bad you are. And by the time you react the damage is done. Have you seen any of those YouTube computer animated videos that slam hospital pretty hard with humor? They are really easy to do an cheap. All you need is to be able to wrote a legible sentence and away you go. Here's one to look at, An ACO Administrator and Patient Dialogue About Being in an ACO.

Anyone with a computer and Internet connection can create CGM. Doesn’t matter if what is written is true or false. The world doesn’t care. And those who see it, hear it, or read it will believe it.

If you don’t know what your consumers are saying about you or your competition for that matter you are losing control of your brand.

You operate in a virtual marketplace where healthcare consumers know more than about you than you realize.

You lose in a customer/patient driven fast-break. Disgruntled consumer creates Consumer Generated Media, and is picked up by mass media- print and electronic. It goes viral. You won’t even know what hit you.

Monitor CGM like you do your competitors and you can possibly prevent being a victim, limit potential damage and improve the healthcare consumer or patient experience in the process.

Welcome to the age where healthcare consumers and patients are the new paparazzi.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pheed.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

What can hospitals learn about patient engagement from specialty pharmacies?

As the pace of the evolving healthcare industry continues to accelerate, I was thinking the other day about what lessons in patient engagement from other healthcare industry segments could improve hospital patient engagement?  I define that as meaningful patent engagement for managing population health, changing health behaviors, keeping members in network in risk sharing agreements and improving the patient experience for value-based agreements seem to me to be mission critical business issues.

It occurred to me that specialty pharmacies have been engaging patients for a long time now, and there are lessons that could be applied to hospitals, and other healthcare providers as they learn how to meaningfully engage patients.

Special pharmacy by its very nature requires them to be highly engaged with the patients due to the nature of the drugs, dosage side effects, back box warnings, limited distribution, FDA adverse event reporting etc., but that doesn't mean that there are no lessons to be learned.

Lesson one: Reach out and touch someone. If you want a patient to be engaged you have to establish personal connection. That means a human connection all of the time, not just when the patient is in the hospital or the doctor's office. Without a human connection to the organization, engagement never has a chance.

Lesson two: Do what you tell the patient you are going to do right now. Saying you are going to take an action on a patient's behalf to call their doctor, send information, refer to an specialist, resolve a billing issue is right now not days later.

Lesson three: Invest in staff training so that when "reaching out and touching someone" it's done right the first time, every time. It's done with consistency and when it's not there is an immediate intervention to correct the situation. And I don't care of someone has been with you one week or 30 years. If they can't get it right when they engage a patient or coworker, they have to go.

Lesson four: The same high standards you have for interaction with patients are the same high standards you have for your employees interacting with one another. That means the right training, creating the right culture and having the right performance measurement. If your employees are not engaged and happy, then your patients can never be engaged and happy.

Lesson five: Computerize the encounter. Not just scripting but an integrated approach using current patient medical information utilizing branching logic in response to questions and follow-ups. It is not only more effective and efficient, but can enhance the encounter medically, personally and result in better outcomes

Lesson six: The same person interacts with the patient on a regular basis. Constant turnover of changing  someone interacts with destroys any potential for engagement. It creates uncertainty, doubt, fear and is negative because the patient feels that "And I have to tell my whole story again?" anxiety. People go on vacation, take days off, get ill, and life happens. Patient's get that. It's all the organizational stuff that you have to keep from getting in the way to reduce your turnover.

Lesson seven: Understand who you are taking too, what they want from you, and how they want the engagement to take place will define to a great extent your engagement strategy. Patient engagement is a one-on-one personal encounter, and one size does not fit all. Yes you have process and systems, but they need to be adaptable, and ever-changing.

There are more of course, but these are the seven lessons I thought are most important in transferring knowledge on patient engagement from one segment of the healthcare industry to another.

Meaningfully enagage or be left behind.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pheed.