Thought leaders from the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) explain how marketers can drive value-based projects within their organizations.
As the healthcare industry continues to embrace value-based care models, marketers can do more than adapt to the changing landscape. Instead, they can lead the charge by communicating with consumers and stakeholders both inside and outside of their organizations.
Marketers and strategists working under a value-based care model should be willing to accept and seek out new roles to craft initiatives and campaigns that increase value for patients, physicians and hospital leadership.
Community and Convenience
Priya Bathija, vice president of The Value Initiative with the American Hospital Association (pictured at left), explains how the shift toward value-based care is affecting the way hospitals and health systems approach the health of their communities.
“Hospitals are looking at ways to eliminate health disparities and improve the health of their communities,” Bathija says. “They are approaching patient care with a lens of value, which has led to a focus on population health and preventing and managing chronic conditions.”
Additionally, the convenience of today’s digital retail marketplace has resulted in new expectations among healthcare consumers—something that pharmaceutical and insurance companies have taken advantage of through the creation of retail walk-in clinics and urgent care centers.
“New entrants into the healthcare marketplace have accelerated health systems’ strategies around consumerism, but I also believe individuals themselves are much more savvy regarding their options,” says Rose Glenn, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Hackensack Meridian Health and the incoming president of the SHSMD board for 2019 (pictured at left). “This may be because high-deductible health plans are making them shop for more efficient options, but part of it is simply due to consumers having the same expectations in health care as they do in the rest of their lives.”
With many goods and services available quickly and cheaply online and trusted retail companies, like Amazon, joining the fold, consumers are becoming wary of healthcare options that require lengthy phone conversations or delayed appointments.
“The days of calling a healthcare provider, being on hold for 15 minutes, and scheduling a primary care appointment two weeks ahead are gone,” Glenn says.
As health care changes, so do the roles of marketers and strategists. In addition to announcing or promoting new service lines and initiatives, marketers should also become active in the creation and implementation of these projects.
“It’s imperative to look at retail-based strategies that make things easier, more convenient and affordable for consumers,” Glenn says. “At many health systems across the country, marketing professionals are helping organizations create after-hours and walk-in clinics and virtual and telemedicine care options. All of these strategies make organizations more competitive with new entries into the marketplace.”
“Based on the broad variety of case examples I’ve seen through the focused content initiative with SHSMD, I believe marketers are required to be more flexible than ever,” Bathija concurs. “They are getting involved in projects that wouldn’t traditionally fall under the marketing umbrella.”
Bathija has seen marketers take on some rather creative roles in their organizations, from leading the creation of online content (like this sample content hub developed by True North Custom as part of an integrated content strategy) and support platforms to organizing educational series in their community.
“One organization created a hub on the internet that provided guidance to patients along their care journey with positive, hopeful articles that featured actual patients and cancer survivors,” Bathija says. “The healthcare system knew that using real examples would help potential patients avoid health scares that can come from searching symptoms online.”
Marketers from another organization created a series of "baby safety showers" for local expectant mothers. These marketers partnered with other stakeholders in the community, allowing them to craft care baskets for distribution to mothers-to-be at the showers.
“Many of these mothers wouldn’t have access to the money needed to buy supplies for their babies before they’re born,” Bathija says. “Thanks to the partnerships sought out by marketers, this organization was able to provide educational sessions about safety and childcare that were tied to the distribution of these care baskets.”
Tailoring the Message
To craft partnerships and initiatives like the ones Bathija has witnessed, marketers need to know how to speak to leaders within their organizations and become a vital part of the decision-making process when it comes to service lines, new projects and more.
“Messages given to senior leadership may need to be tailored in a different way than those given to clinical staff and trustees,” Bathija says. “In a way, marketers need to be able to market within their own healthcare systems and learn the different languages and perspectives of stakeholders.”
A good way to become fluent in these languages is to learn how to effectively collect and present data from surveys, focus groups, patient and family advisory councils, and social media regarding community needs and expectations. Even something as simple as making a value-based decision about medical equipment should be presented properly to all stakeholders.
“Marketers should understand their consumers better than anyone in their organization,” Glenn says. “With the right data, they can help drive change within their healthcare systems.”