Sunday, September 29, 2013

How do you market to the newly insured?

Here comes the newly insured. They are not in ACOs.  Some will have chosen high deductible plans.  Some have even chosen narrow networks to limit their premium cost.  Some of the newly insured will be in the expanded Medicaid program.  What we do know is that it will be a potpourri of ages, sex, income, health status, relationship status and education.  We know that there will be a lot of people who never had access to health insurance.

So how do you market to the newly insured, knowing that the probably haven’t seen a doctor in a few years? They most likely don’t have a primary care physician. And when they needed care as the uninsured, they most likely used Emergency Rooms as their primary source for medical care considering themselves to be ER frequent flyers.  They will be less healthy and in need of navigation though your healthcare system.   They can be a financial godsend to your hospital or a drain depending on their medical condition and source of payment.   
Because you waited until now to start marketing, the chance to establish a relationship with the newly insured prior to the opening of the HIX and that insurance purchase has been lost.  Now you have to compete. And telling the newly insured you have the best doctors and most caring staff is right out of the nineties and meaningless.

The healthcare market is changing and these people are paying out of pocket and they will be paying attention to price, quality and experience. So it is really along these three dimensions that you need to focus your integrated strategic marketing efforts.
Push the newly insured to the primary care doctor.  Pull the primary care doctor to the hospital.

Push the newly insured from the emergency room to free standing clinics and other less costly settings.
Engage the newly insured in meaningful ways along price, experience and quality.

Look out for Walgreens and CVS Caremark, Rite Aid and others whose retail clinic strategy is perfect for the newly insured, and will limit their out of pocket expenses better than you can.  Look out for the hospital or health system that will be the first in your market to engage the newly insured in meaningful ways along price, experience and quality.
The age of semi-retail healthcare is now beginning.  That means the healthcare consumer, aka the newly insured, have some leverage and bargaining power.  Meet their needs and establish a meaningful relationship on their terms, or keep doing what you have always done in marketing and watch them walk away.

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 and Twitter.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Can patient experience and satisfaction drive healthcare marketing?

Patient experience and satisfaction is no longer a nice too have, but a got to have in the evolving consumer-centric healthcare market place.  Consumers are paying more out of pocket and when consumers pay more they expect more.  A better healthcare consumer and patient experience in the end means a more compliant patient pre and post treatment.  Higher level of service and medical process satisfaction brings the healthcare consumer back in a sea of providers who all offer the sameness. 

It is one of the primary drivers for a reason to return. And when all things are equal and undifferentiated, experience and satisfaction become a major determination of return and for their recommendations of you.

Difficult to achieve and tough to competitively beat once you have it, experience and satisfaction with your medical products, clinical services and processes regardless of the vertical, be it specialty pharmacy, medical device,  pharma, hospitals, doctors etc., will drive revenue.  Revenue from the standpoint of Pay-for-Performance (P4P) programs and volume from healthcare consumers aka patients, selecting you in a very commoditized and provider undifferentiated healthcare market place is at stake.

Not everyone will be in an ACO or risk-sharing agreements.  Some will choose narrow networks to save a buck on premium. Fee-for-service will still be around for awhile.  The opening of public insurance exchanges in October, 2013, Medicaid expansion in some states and the now becoming ever more popular the private insurance exchange where companies are moving to defined contribution (see Walgreens, Sears and others in recent times), means that you have a direct to consumer opportunity along very different dimensions then in the past.

The healthcare consumer of today will view your services as: value= f(cost, quality, satisfaction) as compared to the near past where value= f(cost, quality). Value as described by the healthcare consumer here is the result of the function of cost, quality and satisfaction with you.

Why is it important:
  • High levels of experience and satisfaction are a powerful differentiator in your market.
  • Done correctly, your experience improvement and satisfaction program becomes the ongoing Voice of the Customer (VoC) program to drive real organizational change.
  •  It is a strategic and tactical edge for your brand and your marketing communication efforts. 
  • Think customer evangelization.
  • Think of the power of a high-quality experience and exemplary satisfaction and what that can do for your organization. Think of what it can do in your effort to differentiate.
The choice is yours.  Make it before others make it for you.

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 and  Twitter.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The media is calling; how do you respond to PR crisis?

Sometimes, another organizations PR missteps are an opportunity to learn how not to handle a PR crisis.  Just ask the any of the hospitals and health systems that have been in the media the past few weeks with HIPAA violations for data beaches. And what I have seen from the healthcare consumer side in the coverage and their responses have been arrogance, apathy and really stupid responses by senior management.

I mean really, “We had a panic button and security camera.”  Does it matter in your response that the theft happened after hours?  Or the, “We had 60 days under the law before we had to report it.”  How do you think the public reads that answer of hiding behind regulations when their personal data is at stake?

In an age of healthcare model evolution from provider-dominated models of decision making to consumer-directed models, those bygone days of being able to mismanage a PR crisis and response and get away with it are gone.

Is your response to dive for under the desk? Do you send out poorly prepared underlings, to face reporters and the public? Does leadership, make proud pronouncements at the outset, that could come back to haunt you because at this point, you just don't know?   Do you react as an arrogant organization with the, "How dare you question us response"?   Do you think that it can never happen to you? Do you have a crisis communications plan in place?

Every healthcare organization will face a PR crisis. How you handle the communications, will determine the amount of brand damage and length of time people remember, the good and the bad.  In this age of social media and the Internet, there are no, "We just need to wait 3 days to weather the storm", anymore.

Many times organizations respond with:

·         Lack of organizational understanding of the need to handle a situation as crisis communications;
·         Different, conflicting senior management messages;
·         Testy responses to questions;
·         Lack of preparation by speakers in understanding the seriousness of the communication;
·         Poor speaker body language;
·         No overriding organizational message;
·         Organizational arrogance;
·         Lost messaging opportunity;
·         Appearance of blaming others;
·         The organization appearing not accountable;
·         The organization furthering to anger the media;
·         No response at all with the "it's just a three day story and will go away";
·         Sending out unprepared underlings to face the media;

Is it not true that any press is good press!  Every day, someone somewhere faces a crisis communications issue which is poorly handled.

By following these planning guides, you can weather any storm, limit reputation, revenue and ultimately brand image damage:

·         Understand the nature of the situation;
·         Be transparent;
·         Be proactive in how you intend to address the situation;.
·         Limit the amount of time senior leaders i.e. the CEO or president speak;
·         Make sure everyone has the same message and is on board;
·         Develop strong organizational messaging of care and concern;
·         Don’t scapegoat, blame others or give the appearance of blaming others;
·         Don’t tell people things will change when things are not changing;
·         Practice, practice, practice;
·         Bring in an outside PR firm for another viewpoint;
·         Understand that your reputation is built up over a long time and can be destroyed in a few short minutes;
·         Remember that it is not just a three day story;
·         Watch your body language;
·         Know your facts about past performance, reporters will be prepared;
·         Learn from others;
·         Each year engage in a day of media training for executives. Dealing with the media is a learned skill that the majority of executives do not have.  It is not as easy as it looks.

Most importantly, engage the media all the time all year round not just when you have a problem.  By establishing positive media relations with the good you do, you won't necessarily be cut any slack in a bad situation, but you will get the opportunity to tell your side.  You won't if you don't have good media relations already in place.

Plan now for that crisis communications event, and you will better off as a prepared healthcare organization.

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 and  Twitter.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ready, set, go- will healthcare consumers buy health insurance from an HIX that includes you?


Health insurance companies and governments are gearing up to spend millions in educating the healthcare consumer regarding purchasing health insurance in a HIX come October 1. But is there any guarantee that they will choose a plan that includes you? Or is this something left to chance?
You have a very big stake for participating actively and reaching out to the potential insured marketplace to choose plans that include you.

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?

In case you are thinking that all you have to do is sit back and deal with the new demand for care, how can you be sure the newly insured healthcare consumer will choose 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. That also means price, experience and outcome transparency.
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".

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 and  Twitter,

Monday, September 2, 2013

Can earned media, public relations and social media drive healthcare marketing strategy?

Given the extraordinary competing needs in healthcare organizations to meet the new reality of the healthcare market place from EMRs to employed physician, too new treatment and diagnostic modalities and declining reimbursements, marketing gets the short straw most of the time in those resource allocation decisions.  And that is a dangerous position to be in when a market is evolving to a semi-retail, consumer-centric model.

But when you have constrained marketing resources, and you have to have a continuous presence in the market place to shift healthcare consumer’s attitudes, preferences and choices, the triple combination of earned media, public relations and social media working in a strategic, integrated fashion can achieve that end for you.

Make no mistake about it, combining social media, public relations and earned media is hard. It is much more than a press release or an event. You have to develop relationships with reporters. You have to plant and cultivate story ideas. You have to respond to reporters request for more information. It takes time. It takes patience in a period of time where all we ask on a daily basis is, "What did you do for me today?"

You need to find ways for reporters and editors to follow your tweets. They have to be exposed to your blog or your company pages on LinkedIn, YouTube or facebook. That’s the value in earned media and public relations by integrating those efforts with social media. It becomes your ability to establish a powerful continuous presence by expending human resources with the talent in your marketing operation not financial. And the payoff by combining the three in an integrated strategic fashion can be huge.

Earned media and public relations driving social media have value.

All that content that goes online comes from somewhere and has to go somewhere.  A reporter has to write it.  A network broadcaster has to cover it. Columnists look for it.  It goes out on facebook, web sites, YouTube, twitter and electronic / print editions of magazines, daily newspapers and specialty publications.

Earned media and public relations can become viral in social media because it has so many different outlets.  When a news outlet or publication carries your brand messages, it makes what you are doing seem more believable.  Once the story runs about a topic and you're the first, it's much harder for your competitors to get out there with the same message.  A powerful way to differentiate yourself which also has a considerable number of aftermarket uses.

There is a bigger payoff too.

Every organization will experience a communications crisis. Taking the time to develop positive relationships with reporters, blog writers, broadcast media and others has a big payoff in a media driven crisis. The development and cultivation of a relationship with media doesn't mean that the story won't run. But what it can mean is the difference between a story that is balanced and fairly reported, versus a story that is one-sided against you.  As we all know, negative news about travels farther and faster than positive news, which does more harm than good over the long haul.

So, maybe it's time to rethink in an era of declining healthcare marketing resources traditional marketing activities, to changing your markets with earned media, public relations and social media?

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