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Marketing Health Care In A Time Of Uncertainty

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August 18, 2017

Ragan's Health Care Communication News, an online resource for healthcare marketing professionals, published the following article written by Daniel Weinbach, of The Weinbach Group, a Miami ad agency known nationally as a leading healthcare marketing firm. In the article, Weinbach, who serves as president and CEO of the healthcare advertising agency, explains how professionals involved in all facets of medical advertising can navigate the uncertainties of today's legislative limbo.

Read the article, reprinted below, or click here to read the article on the Health Care Communications News website.

No one knows for certain what's going to happen to health care in the United States, but our clients have to keep moving forward with their marketing and communications efforts.
Whether Obamacare is repealed, replaced or revised, it's safe to assume any health care law will continue to advance two trends:

  1. Consumers will shoulder an increasing financial burden for their portion of health care costs (primarily as the result of high-deductible health plans)
  2. Providers will have to focus on value-based compensation vs. volume-based compensation, i.e., pay for performance instead of fee for service.

How do these trends affect health care marketing?

Patients' growing financial responsibility for their care is going to require health care marketers to make a stronger case for value. If patients are responsible for 100 percent of their health care costs until reaching their deductible, they will likely be more careful when selecting a provider.

Physicians, urgent care centers and even hospitals should recognize the role of pricing strategy, price transparency and price sensitivity in how they market their services. Those of us in medical advertising will have to incorporate price and value into our messaging.

The shift to value-based care also affects how we communicate about health care services. As in any business, good customer service will pay huge dividends in the form of enhanced reputation, but poor service will wreak havoc. With value-based care, patient satisfaction is among the key measures that determine provider quality.

The focus on quality and outcomes offers opportunities for health care marketers. If your organization is succeeding in meeting benchmarks for quality, why not advertise those successes? Highlight your organization's clinical excellence and the favorable patient experiences it delivers.

Five essentials moving forward

How do you put this new reality into practice? Address these five essential elements of your health care marketing and communications programs and you'll be ready for whatever comes next:

  1. Use technology to maintain contact with patients. Everything from automated appointment reminders to follow-up emails and social media should be part of a provider's communications arsenal.
  2. Approach price and value in patient communications.
  3. Let patients know they have choices about the care they receive, and help them make decisions with price as a factor.
  4. Include health education and literacy as key components of your marketing messages.
    Demonstrate price transparency.
  5. Capitalize on the data required by MACRA/MIPS. Providers have to report outcomes measures. If the data are favorable, use it as material for marketing.

Whatever comes next in health care, we have to start focusing on the core benefits that every other industry has used for generations to market products and services: price and quality. Welcome to the new world.