Sunday, October 30, 2016

How does one make provider marketing meaningful?

A crucial question because the answer is, that one only needs a hospital for three things anymore- emergency care, ICU, and treatment for complex acute medical conditions.  The hospital as the center of the healthcare universe is an antiquated business model.  That is how fast the market has changed in three years.

While traditional approaches and messaging to marketing the hospital and health system continue unabated, the healthcare consumer is left scratching their head since its looks and feels so much the same for all the hospitals’  in a market.

While the healthcare consumer wants quality data, the hospitals look and turn away.

When the healthcare consumer asks for pricing information is the provider answer rude and arrogant that you’ll never understand our prices so why to bother?  

When the healthcare consumer tweets about a bad experience, silence echoes in the hallway.

And that is the core of the challenge.

Hospitals continue to be deaf to the changes and need of the market.

The healthcare consumer is searching for information on the hospital or health system that includes brand reputation, price and outcomes data, and experience to make a health care purchase decision.  They are finding the information elsewhere. What they are finding doesn’t match with the message. 

And that doesn’t foster or create trust.

Health care is a retail-driven, consumer-focused medical market and that means new approaches.  A new transparency based on price, outcomes and the value that the healthcare consumer receives. It’s not about logos, awards, vague claims or misleading advertisements. It is about being healthcare consumer focused and meeting their needs with usable, transparent, and actionable information, not hospital- centric messaging that makes the Board, physicians and senior management feel good.

It’s a new business model for hospital and health system operations and marketing.

In most cases, healthcare advertisements and other channel communications are the primary contacts that a consumer has that start the experience process.   Talk to the audience in meaningful ways. Educate. Teach. Inform. Change opinion.  Frame the experience and set up the clinical service or physician by providing actionable information in terms the healthcare consumer can understand.

Winning healthcare marketers are driving growth by increasing their precision, broadening their scope, reacting quickly, and being transparent by telling a better story.

Otherwise, last one out, please turn the lights out.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Are you taking advantage of the third wave of digital in health care?


Change can be transformational for companies. Or, for the lack of leadership and understanding, spell the death knell of the business model as the market and industry changes. For example, one only needs a hospital for are three things, intensive care, care for complex acute medical conditions and life-threating emergency care.  After that, all other healthcare consumer or patient medical needs can be meet outside of the hospital or hospital-based outpatient services.
The third wave of digital transformation.
Keep the above thought in mind as another transformational innovation is impacting health care and hospitals.   The third wave of digital isn’t pie in the sky and few years out. This market changing transformation is the third wave of digital for providers. No one is immune.
The healthcare consumer is increasingly in control.  Period.  They are in control of their heath and health data through wearables, mobile health platforms, and self-tracking devices. They are in control of the experience. They are in control of the expectations for services.
What does it all mean?
In the digital third wave instead of healthcare services being static, they are now living services with liquid expectations.  It is through the third wave, that lays the marketing opportunity for healthcare providers, in understanding those living services and leveraging liquid expectations.
Marketing steps to take now.

1.     Market research to understand how the market segments especially how the Silver Surfers are using digital health, the internet of everything, as well as their expectations around those channels.

2.     Understand the nature and function of the hospital or health system digital brand. Does it meet the expectations uncovered in the market research?

3.      Embrace the trend don’t fight.  That means marketing leadership and participation in hospital or health system strategy development.

4.     Understand, and this is important for senior leadership and clinicians, all services in this new environment are liquid.  Clinical serves are no longer static and unforgiving of expectations.

5.    Understand the experiences that the healthcare consumer has in other industries and is transferring to healthcare. Learn and emulate.

6.    The healthcare consumer is moving between mobile, online, wearable and smartphone devices with expectations for a seamless digital experience.  Can the hospital or health system deliver on the expectation?

7.    Development of internal marketing educational programs for all levels of staff about the third digital wave and what it means when the patient is searching for providers and when they are in-house.

8.    More difficult but now essential transition from a provider-centric business model to a consumer-centric business model.

9.    Use digital to establish and manage engagement. That is where the healthcare consumer lives and expects to be engaged. Seamlessly across all digital platforms.

10.  Focus marketing efforts around the healthcare brand and value proposition around outcomes, price, experience, and expectation.

11.  Listen. Listen. Listen. And listen some more to the healthcare consumer and their needs.

Things have just gotten a lot harder in healthcare. The healthcare consumer is gaining control faster than hospitals, and health systems can keep up.
Not good.  Not good at all for the digital deaf providers.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.



For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Are you using social media in actually engaging the healthcare, consumer?

More of a rhetorical question, the other day I was wondering with all the engagement and experience efforts underway if I am an engaged at any level by my insurance plan or health care provider? Putting my marketing hat aside, and looking at the question, I have to say the answer is no.

And it is a major challenge and obstacle that providers face as healthcare becomes retail and healthcare consumer driven in nature on how to engage.

Engagement is human- to-human

Let me repeat; engagement is a human-to- human undertaking. It is not a piece of state disease literature.  It is not a generic newsletter sent monthly with topics that I have little interest. It’s a meaningful interaction that is a two-way conversation about my health status, needs, and options.   A dialogue that is ongoing, not one time.

Patient engagement or any engagement for that matter is a mutually beneficial conversation that is structured to meet the healthcare needs of the individual.  It can take many forms to fit the engagement style of the patient or healthcare consumer.  The implication here is that it is highly individualized.  

In marketing, we call that mass customization.  That is the same information shared with large populations or group of people that appear in nature to the individual to be highly personalized.  But all of the engagement drives mostly the same outcome, to increase knowledge, to make better choices, to empower decision-making, to create brand loyalty and drive revenue. And that engagement effort is delivered across multiple mediums and channels that the targeted individuals desire to receive the information.

Past engagement styles and efforts do not meet today’s healthcare consumer’s needs.

The healthcare consumer and patient lives and reacts to the world that is omnichannel in nature.  They move freely between phone, email, mobile, and desktop, etc., expecting the engagement and experience to be seamless and available at any time of their choosing.

It’s easy to talk about the rationale and the importance of an effective and efficient social media program.  Or, to suggest social media channels as a starting point to drive engagement and business.  It’s another thing to discuss the how you do it in a time of scarce marketing resources, lack of knowledge or the willingness to lead change.

What follows are steps in a defined process  to embark on an integrated social media program for engagement?   
1.       Improve the organizational marketing process. Let face it, we all do things that don’t make any sense or has become so ingrained we react without thinking. Take a step back and look at the marketing processes. Find efficiencies and increase effectiveness. Stop doing what doesn’t work and move those resources to social media.    
2.       Find the one person in the organization that knows social media and put them full time on the job or hire someone.  It takes an FTE dedicated to run a successfully integrated, efficient, and engaging social media program.   
3.       Commit to social media all the time. The challenge is to keep in front of your audience with relevant information, all the time.  Attention spans are short.  If someone sees no changes on a pretty regular basis in your content or information, they will fall away.   
4.      Measure everything.  Evaluate.  Adjust based on your findings. Redeploy budget as needed.  
5.      Use social media with brand evangelists, followers, customers, physicians, employees, etc., to communicate, build organizational support and loyalty.   
6.      Develop a content plan and editorial calendar.   
7.      Repurpose all content across social media channels.   
8.      Make it interesting and about the challenges the organization is solving.  All about you is boring and glossed over.  All about your customer’s or patient’s and how you are helping will.   
9.     In the end, if the human resources are not available in the department, consider outsourcing the social media function.

The bottom line is that the multiple stakeholders and audiences are out in social media searching for answers.  So it is probably about time that the provider or vendor is where they are, not where they would like them to be.

Think of one's personal experience as a healthcare consumer or patient.  Are you engaged? If not then the patients aren't either.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.