Hospital marketing: from volume to value

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The evolution in the health care delivery model to value-based reimbursement means an emphasis on improving quality and the cost efficiencies of care.  This translates to healthcare providers actually having to compete on value, like most other consumer-based industries.  At the same time, new retail and technology competitors are shattering traditional boundaries, further challenging customer expectations and the traditional “behind the curtain” healthcare value proposition.

How does a hospital marketer prepare for this transition – from a focus on volume and profitability of services provided, to the patient outcomes achieved?

Here are a few suggestions.

Activation Beyond Advertising. It’s one thing to raise awareness through advertising. But getting customers (your patients) to participate in their own health requires activation. Alongside you and through your brand as a platform to deliver maximum customer value and competitive advantage. It’s a win-win all around to prevent hospitalization through a more participatory approach – physically, digitally, experientially – to improve outcomes and cut costs.

To quote Dr. Sheldon Zinberg, founder of patient-centered medical group CareMore: If you put the patient first, the patient will profit, and you will profit. Driven by this philosophy, CareMore actually bought air conditioners for frail elders during a heat wave, a much less expensive alternative to a hospital stay.

Look Beyond Current Borders.  Consider the convergence of multiple industries like technology, telecommunications, music and consumer electronics. New industry players transformed traditional value propositions by asking the question “what’s best for the customer.”  The same will happen (is happening) in healthcare. But beyond new competitors, apply this same proactive thinking to seek out prospective partners, to create an ecosystem of providers aligned to improve health.

Different Patient Populations, Different Needs.  Consider the broad buckets of clinical segments, i.e., people with multiple chronic care conditions (who account for the largest percent of healthcare spending), people who are at-risk for major procedures and those who are healthy and who might have minor health conditions.

How can you do what’s best for each of these customer segments? How can you significantly improve the value equation – moving them forward in ways that they can’t do on their own and beyond the reach of your competitors?

Create A Strong Brand Identity. Given the changing healthcare landscape – empowered patients, growing cross-industry competition, evolving provider and insurance industry relationships – an overarching brand identity must be able to support an ecosystem of traditional, retail, e-health, and social-media components; along with binding together the multidisciplinary teams of providers who need to see themselves as part of a common integrated unit.

 

For hospital marketers, the future requires a fundamentally different strategy. One that is focused on maximizing (demonstrating) value for patients, where value is defined as the health outcomes achieved that matter to patients relative to the cost of achieving those outcomes. Most industries already compete on value. Now healthcare must do the same.