Sunday, August 25, 2013

How do you market healthcare in an era of reform?

Faced with a cacophony of payment models from fee-for-service to value and risked based, with everything else in between, the evolving healthcare consumer, millions of people in the coming months gaining access to healthcare via the HIX insurance purchase, healthcare marketing becomes an even greater challenge than before. One size does not fit all. And growth is good.

Sustainability...Presence...Perception...Experience...

These are the four dynamics that direct-care healthcare providers need to understand and incorporate for success in their marketing operations and campaign efforts in a consumer-driven market. No longer nice to have, these four basic marketing concepts are now business requirements.

Sustainability- The resources to effectively and continuously communicate brand and differentiate you’re offering across multiple channels.

Presence - By maintaining a continuous presence across multiple channels as in so many other consumer-directed industries you build brand preference.

Perception- With a sustainable, continuous presence in the marketplace, sooner rather than latter, your key messages become the opinion of you by consumers and they become fact in their minds.

Experience-  Defining, measuring and changing the healthcare consumers experience including price and outcomes to match the brand image, perceptions and opinions of the market place. And is communicated in an integrated multi-channel sustained effort that includes social media engagement.

 Change and Survive

A consumer-directed market is much different environment than a provider-directed market which requires skills and abilities that may or may not exist in an organization.   Key success factors for creating a high performance marketing operation that delivers revenue and market share in an era of reform in the new healthcare environment include:

·       A Chief Marketing Officer that reports to the CEO and is involved in all decision making.

·       Marketing resources- human and capital to support a sustainable and continuous strategically based, fully  integrated multi-channel effort externally and internally.

·       Basing marketing plans and strategies on data rather than thought or here say. Marketing via data analysis from  consumer market research to detailed service area analysis. Not just demographic or lifestyle, but utilization patterns, prevalence and incidence of disease, insurance status, healthcare brand preference, location preference,  message testing etc.

·       Price, outcomes and experience transparency

·       Internal communication and training to educate the organization around marketing efforts, expectations and their role in the execution of the plan.

·      Creation of a comprehensive marketing dashboard which communicates activities and results on a monthly basis to all levels of the organization.

The above organizational marketing success factors are at a minimum what is needed to move healthcare providers from a cottage-industry approach to marketing, to a comprehensive multimillion or billion dollar corporation approach to marketing.

As the healthcare providers continue to consolidate across all segments, marketing will assume an increasingly important role in the survival and revenue generating activities for the organization in a consumer dominated and directed healthcare marketplace.

And that requires a far different innovative sustainable marketing presence that changes perceptions than the old way of doing things.

 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, August 18, 2013

How are you improving market share and revenue in healthcare?

As healthcare evolves into a consumer-centric, semi-retail market with you existing in a multitude of reimbursement schemes each nuanced for a different market segment, have you  identified from a marketing perspective immediate actions to  improve your market position and revenue generation?  This isn't about massive advertising campaigns, gimmicks, wellness programs, etc. It’s more about getting the basics right, understanding who pays for what and how, the needs of your healthcare consumers, as well as driving demand, managing demand and moving demand to the right locations. In some circumstances it may even mean de-marketing certain services.

This is a difficult question to answer given the focus and preoccupation with hospitals and health systems, with EMR, readmissions, cost reduction, quality improvement, etc., but at the very least, it does not mean that marketing leadership cannot make a difference in their organizations, lead change and make a meaningful, measureable difference.

So very quickly, here are seven ways to improve your market position and generate revenue.

1.  Brand and competitive position.

Consumers and patients are ready for convenient technology-enabled access to care. Healthcare providers that are capable of identifying their needs and how they want their healthcare needs meet though technology focused on them, will gain new patients and the next-generation of physicians.  It's not a crime to use text messaging to send people information or confirmations about appointments, health reminders, or use QR codes to link to specific education or health offers.

 2. Engage existing customers and patients.

An individual is only a patient 1/3rd of the time they come in contact with you.  That is during the diagnosis, treatment and recovery phase.  Pre and post this, they are a consumer not a patient.  So why then is it the only time you meaningfully engage them is during the period when they are a patient?  Doesn't make a lot of sense really. Consumer and patient engagement is about all of the time, not just some of the time.  Engaging the individual on a continuous basis builds loyalty and return use or repurchase behavior.

3. Engage the physicians.

No matter the payment model you will still need a physicians or physician extenders order to get anything done in a healthcare setting. That means engaging physicians in meaningful ways, using the methods, technology and systems that will make their life easier, improve their productivity and protect or increase their income. An effective and efficient physician has more to do with the impact of cost and quality in your organization then you control.

4. Focus on the physician experience.

How hard is it for a physician or physician extender to practice medicine in your organization?  Have you looked at the hassle factor that physicians encounter when they try to get things done in your care setting?  Understand how the physician experiences your organization at every touch-point they encounter you. Understand their experiences overall from beginning to end, not just in an isolated segment. Fix what is broken, keep what is working. The more satisfying the experience, the better you will do financially.

5. Focus on the consumer/patient experience.

A healthcare provider's ability to deliver an experience that sets it apart in the eyes of its patients and potential patients from its competitors - traditional and non-traditional - serves to increase their spending and loyalty to the brand. You need to actively manage the customer experience in total by understanding the customer's point of view.  That is, all touch points internally and externally that a customer/patient comes in contact with which in turn creates the experience. Exceptional experience means gains in market share, brand awareness, and revenue.

6. Embrace retail healthcare.

Traditional ways of delivering healthcare will go by the wayside in many cases.  Price convenience, access and outcomes are the drivers in retail healthcare.  Find the need, understand the consumer’s behavior drivers, design offering around the consumer not you in a convenient location and price it appropriately. If you can't compete in this way, your market position, share and revenue will erode.

 7. Turn to social media and networks to engage, manage the experience and drive adherence.
 
As healthcare continues the evolution to a healthcare consumer dominated semi-retail environment, social networking is a healthcare marketing channel that is underutilized and underperforms today, but holds great potential to improve engagement, experience and adherence. And that takes healthcare marketing leadership, executive vision and meaningful action.
 
Seven step to market and revenue growth in an evolving healthcare market place. Not an impossible task, but one that does require focus. In the ends it's all about:


 
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, August 11, 2013

Are direct healthcare providers missing the importance of social networking?

In an article that received little fanfare in healthcare circles, the Pew Research Center issued a study on the social networking by online adults.  And this has profound implications for the healthcare industry that has been slow to adapt to social networking in meaningful ways. Which raises the question, are healthcare organizations missing the opportunity to increase adherence, engagement and experience by participating in the social networking usage revolution by adults?
 
In an interesting study, Internet Social Networking, Joanne Brenner, August 5, 2013 points to an accelerating trend of online adults actively engaged in social networking platforms. And if I remember correctly adults age 50 and above consume healthcare resources and would be a prime audience to engage in many levels.  I summarize but only seven percent of online adults participated in social networking in February 2005 compared to 60 percent of adults age 50-64 in May of 2013.
 
But wait it gets even better. For the 65+ crowd, only one percent, that’s right one percent participated in social networking in 2006. Today that number is up to 43 percent of online adults 65+. And adults over age 65 are growing in online presence each and every day.
 
I find it interesting from a marketing standpoint that healthcare providers are slow to adapt to technologies and changing healthcare consumer behaviors, that can made a real measurable impact and difference in experience, engagement and adherence.  That’s not to say that you will ever be their BFF on any of the social networking sites, but it is a way to reach out and engage. It is a way to influence the patient and healthcare consumer experience.  Social networking is a different way that could be used to drive adherence to improve health.  And how many ways can you think of to use social networking for managing population health?
 
This isn’t your kid’s facebook anymore.
 
Social networking sites are not billboards.  They are opportunities to establish a meaningful relationship and engage the healthcare consumer. And in my travels, I see way too much of healthcare providers social networking as being nothing more than running billboard. No attempts to define the healthcare consumer experience. No integration of social network strategy or platforms.  
 
I am not sure if its lack of marketing leadership in healthcare organizations or if its healthcare senior leadership not knowing what they don’t know, or they are blocking meaningful use of the marketing channel because they think it has no relevance in world?
 
But this I do know, as healthcare continues the evolution to a healthcare consumer dominated semi-retail environment, social networking is a healthcare marketing channel that is underutilized and underperforms today, but holds great potential to improve engagement, experience and adherence. And that takes healthcare marketing leadership, executive vision and meaningful action.
 
So even if you Mr. Mrs. or Ms. Healthcare Executive are not engaged in social networking and think it’s a bunch of hooey, the healthcare consumer aka the patient is very active, and they could be talking about you.
 
After all, my 89 year old Aunt is active on facebook and LinkedIn. It’s one of the ways that I can keep in contact with her.  Don’t you think it might behoove you to do the same?

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, August 4, 2013

Are patient adherence & engagement two sides of the same experience coin?

It has been a most interesting year of change for healthcare in 2013 in anticipation of ACA 2014.  Medical Homes, ACOs, patient- centered care, risk-base payment models, a growing understanding of the importance of healthcare marketing and branding and talk about patient adherence and engagement.  But, none of this will be successful unless you have a patient that is adherent and engaged. It’s really two sides of the same coin that is based on their experience with you the provider.

It think adherence starts first with experience that leads to leads to an adherent and engaged patient. As you view the landscape wondering how you will reduce cost, improve the health of populations, you have to focus on how you will begin to engage in a logically defined measureable process, along the dimensions of experience, adherence and engagement.  And it's not just wellness programs, seminars, community events or material copied on bright neon paper. It takes strategy, commitment and learning.

Here are seven strategies you need to employ to create the adherent and engaged healthcare consumer:

 1. Integrate your engagement solutions. That means information is delivered seamlessly to patients, so that they can interact with you any way they want, when they want too. 

2.  Marketing should be using both push and pull messaging.  Messaging needs to be relevant to the patient at the point in time that they need it as well as personalized, customized, accounting for the cultural heritage and societal influences tailored to them.

3. Start to understand how to being the techniques of gamification to your experience, adherence and engagement programs.  Patient incentives and motivational techniques will be needed to keep patient engaged. That doesn't mean cash. Look to the gaming industry for gaming technology and gaming prediction, for ways to engage without cash. Be creative.  Look outside healthcare for ideas, tools and techniques to engage.  After all, patients are people too.

4. Create a sense of community.  You have to compete for patients, keep them in network and keep them healthy.   You have to get into the inner circle of your audiences and become the trusted advisor. It's not just about loyalty. You need to shape patient behaviors to the point where they will recommend you.

5. Know your audience and with whom you are speaking too. This is really back-to-basics CRM understanding and understanding all the dimensions- gender, age, integration of risk assessments, culture, etc.  You cannot engage the patient unless you are intimately knowledgeable about them, their needs, and how to tailor the information they need to engage them.

6. Know the influence of the patient’s culture on behavior to engage them. You need to know who the individual is culturally, their affinity groups, and religious beliefs to name just a few items, beyond gender and age.

7. Time it right and add value.  If you health messaging is not resonating with the patient when they receive it, then you have lost them. Communicate relevant messages to a committed patient right before healthcare decisions are made. That means knowing the patient like you have never known them in the past. For example, a patient or healthcare consumer, going to a restaurant to eat, or a supermarket to purchase groceries, means sending them health messages at that time, in order to enable them to make the right food choices.  It's not impossible. Think of the Foursquare app.
 
You are moving patients from passive healthcare participants to active healthcare participants.

That's why you engage with experience to increase adherence.

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