Sunday, October 27, 2013

Why isn’t hospital advertising changing with the times?



I have to admit, this is a pet peeve of mine, disingenuous hospital advertising. In a day and age where healthcare is evolving to a consumer centric, semi-retail model, some hospital marketers and C-suite leadership continue to treat the healthcare consumer like they are incapable of making informed choices.

With the healthcare consumer having a higher cost stake in the process with larger deductibles and co-pays, your price, and outcomes data readily available, it would seem that the time for change has come.

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 healthcare consumer 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.

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", best doctors, hundreds of locations, 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.

How about the ever present focus on the physicians with messaging about having the best primary care or specialists in the region that drones on about everything other than healthcare.  Prove it.  Maybe the healthcare consumer will take you seriously when you finally report Dr. Hodad and remove him from your medical staff.

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?

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

The time has come healthcare providers to provide meaningful information in the marketplace that will allow the healthcare consumer to become informed, educated and participatory in the care decision-making process. 

You should be transparent and talking about your outcomes and prices.  The healthcare consumer is hungry for information and searching the internet as well as 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 model, to a healthcare consumer and patient-directed, controlled model. 

Your choice so chose wisely, the future of your organizations depends on it.

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, October 20, 2013

Does your patient experience fail the test?

True story.  "Well, you can always bring her back to the hospital if she still has trouble breathing", said the home health care nurse sent from the hospital less than 2 hours after a patient had been discharged.  Oh, and did I tell you that her eye was infected, almost fell going to the bathroom in the hospital and informed the nurse, had slurred speech and could barley ambulate?  That patient had been cleared by all to be discharged from the hospital.

And then the family hears or sees an ad about all the wonderful quality care awards from third parties that they receive, and how many lives would be saved if everyone was as good as them.
What do you think the now healthcare consumer, formally the patient thought?

Countless times every day, the patient experience goes fails the test.  Big things and small things alike that take place in the healthcare encounter all add up to one patient experience, good or bad. 
When healthcare executives are surveyed, the majority say that customer/patient experience management is a critical business success factor along with patient safety and cost reduction.  But at the same time, the majority of healthcare CEOs admit that they really don't know where to start on successfully managing the experience.

Experience management is about changing the way you interact with the individual or family from start to finish.  Not just managing the experience at isolated points along the care continuum. It's not about just focusing on service recovery like something was wrong with a hotel stay.  Managing the experience requires a complete understanding of what the patients expectations are, not yours. Experience management is culturally and organizationally uncomfortable. And that is because it's not about you anymore.

So when the patient experience fails, your reputation, your brand and your future in a risk or value-based payment environment fails as well. And then there are those readmissions penalties you face when a patient like this comes back in less than 30 days.

You should see what's being said on facebook and in social media circles from others that chime about how bad their experience was at that particular hospital. Do you still think social media is nothing more than a billboard?

Yep, the chuckle factor is really high when those quality award ads are heard and seen.  Pay attention to the patient experience, and pay attention to the marketing. They are not separated, but closely related.

The newly insured healthcare consumer is paying close attention now. It costing them money, they have too.

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.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Are you using social media marketing for an exceptional healthcare experience?


In the new world of healthcare where price, quality and a newly insured healthcare consumer is paying more out-of-pocket costs for healthcare, social media marketing represents an opportunity that can be used advantageously to meet healthcare consumers demands for a better experience.

Social media represents a great opportunity for establishing a one-on-one relationship with the patient, aka the healthcare consumer, directed by the healthcare organization that breaks from the pack, by creating a social media healthcare experience that is memorable, exceeding an individual or families experience and expectations.

Most healthcare organizations are still stumbling with using social media and the online experience to drive differentiation, meaningful information and experience. Think of this in terms of a channel of communications and engagement that meets the healthcare consumer on their terms but with your messaging.

In any case, when you look at your social media strategy and presence, does your social media experience:

Ø  Delight your customer?

Ø  Create sustainable differentiation?

Ø  Is adaptable to new opportunities?

Ø  Leverages your investment?

Ø  Deliver in every situation?

Ø  Connect with the newly insured?

Ø  Does it engage the healthcare consumer?

Ø  Provide answers or guidance looking for solutions to medical challenges?

Ø  Define experience, outcomes, price and value?

Or, is it just pushing out information that is that you have deemed valuable to you, but carries no relevant meaning for the healthcare consumer?  

This is the lens of criticality needed to objectively evaluate efforts.  If it's not doing these things, then chances are nil in delivering an exceptional social media experience. But for that matter, neither are your competitors. 

Make your social media presence not just "good enough" but exceptional.

On another note, my apologies for missing a post last week. I was out of town with my wife and daughter last weekend. Alex is a left-handed pitcher on a 16U a fastpitch softball college exposure team and we were in Des Moines, Iowa for the ASA 16U A Heartland Showcase Series College Exposure Tournament.   Saturday was playing for college coaches and scouts. Sunday was a single elimination tournament.  There were  27,16U A teams playing. We made it to the final four and a three way tie for 1st place because the final games were canceled due to rain. It was a good time.

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.