Debate rages on over whether the Affordable Care Act was the most appropriate way for America to put the brakes on rapidly increasing health care costs. Regardless of where one stands on this politically charged issue, there’s no question that President Obama’s signature legislation resulted in sweeping changes across the health care landscape. However, one of the most significant changes failed to receive the same coverage as the Individual Mandate or Cadillac Tax. It is the move toward compensating providers based on quality of care, rather than the sheer number of patients and complexity of procedures. Providers are held accountable for achieving optimal patient outcomes, thus reducing the need for additional, potentially more expensive, treatments.
Whereas the traditional volume-based health care model required little in the way of marketing budgets, value-based care has upped the game, as providers compete for business based on quality and price. This is forcing hospital and physician practices boards and executives to review their strategies for patient outreach and marketing to strengthen the connection between patient and provider.
As health care organizations focus their efforts on providing more value, marketing and communications strategies must follow suit. One-size-fits-all marketing is no longer sufficient. Today’s consumers expect a personalized, customized experience, akin to what they receive from online marketers and consumer packaged goods companies. In the world of health care marketing, delivering value means connecting with patients on a personal level and creating content that addresses their most pressing concerns and provides valuable health information.
While digital marketing has received the lion’s share of the attention – and clearly has a major role to play – an integrated strategy that combines digital with traditional marketing channels, like billboards, TV commercials, print ads, newsletters, and direct mail is by far the most effective. Remember, the goal is to reach patients where they are and where they prefer to receive communication. While some may relish the opportunity to access content on their smartphone, others may prefer to sit down with a printed newsletter. Patient data can be leveraged to determine what content will be most relevant to individual patients, so it can be delivered to the right people at the optimal times via the most effective channels.
As you create content, strive to fulfill consumer needs. If long wait times at a walk-in clinic are a common complaint, publicize the ability to pre-register and reserve a spot online. Well-timed promotions can also be an effective marketing strategy. These could include low-cost mammograms during Breast Cancer Awareness month or back-to-school exams available at lunchtime or after work hours. True value is only achieved when marketing leads to action, so be sure to include a call to action. Encourage recipients to register for a class, find a doctor, or schedule an appointment.
Value-based health care has the potential to drastically change patient outcomes. It has already changed the way marketers interact with today’s consumers – driving integrated, personalized strategies that attract, educate, and capture new patients.