In this interview for our “3 Key Insights” video series, Dr. Zeev Neuwirth shares his expert perspective on consumerism, increased competition and marketing’s role in transforming healthcare.
As a physician executive, author, speaker and podcast host, Dr. Zeev Neuwirth has a unique vantage point on the opportunities and challenges facing health systems in 2021. He highlights several of these along with his view that a marketing mindset is now mission critical.
Key Insight #1: Health systems must do a better job of differentiating themselves.
Healthcare systems are doing absolutely remarkable work; I just don’t believe they’ve actually differentiated themselves enough.
Of course, you can’t be everything so the question is: What do you really want to be, what do you want to do for the world? That segmented focus is part of differentiation.
I think there are certain fundamental things that healthcare systems can stand for. There are certain things we’re doing that we should highlight. For instance, I’m incredibly proud of my organization [Atrium Health] and its leadership around the social determinants of health. We’ve made it one of our strategic hallmarks to really help transform the community. I believe that’s a differentiator—not the only differentiator, but one example of how certain things resonate.
You could be an expert in cardiovascular care, orthopedic care, neurologic care or child care. Those are things where you can begin to say, “Of course, we do a lot of things but here are certain things we want you to be aware of.”
Key Insight #2: Health systems must address non-consumption.
We know that literally half the population in this country doesn’t even have a primary care provider. This reality is sad and upsetting and wrong since we know that when people go to primary care providers, the health of their communities increases. This is a public health issue and I’m talking about getting to the large percentage of the population who are nonconsumers. We also know that nonconsumption increased as a result of COVID-19. People were afraid to go into doctor’s offices (rightly so), which is one of the reasons why virtual care has increased tremendously.
As you differentiate yourself, figure out what you can do to reach nonconsumers to make healthcare more accessible and convenient for them to actually use. We’re talking about the right thing to do for your community.
Key Insight #3: Competition is increasing while consumer loyalty is shifting.
I believe we are vulnerable to losing our patients. The market is not becoming less competitive for hospital systems and legacy providers. It is definitely becoming more competitive. You’re seeing retailers get into the market along with thousands of new entrants, including thousands of digital healthcare companies that are incredibly well funded. The market is increasingly pouring tens of billions of dollars every year into these new entrants.
Then you’ve got these mega entrants like CVS, Aetna, Humana and other payers. When I say payer, traditionally they were called insurance companies—but make no mistake, they’re not insurance companies anymore: They’re providers. They’re integrated, vertically enhanced provider groups. Optum is another one: more providers than any other organization in the country in what was traditionally an insurance company.
You’ve also got Amazon, which just started offering employee healthcare—not just for their own employees across the country but to other employers as well.
Mega-corporations like Walmart know how to attract and retain customers, and they’ve been in the marketing game a lot longer and with more sophistication than traditional healthcare providers. This is the new competition.
Forget about growth: If you just want to retain customers, we’re going to have to up our game. Retention is absolutely critical, and marketing is going to be critical. I mean that in the broader sense of the word: really understanding what your consumers want, what they need, what role they want you to play and how to deliver care.
Watch the full interview
Get more insights to inspire your marketing strategy in our 15-minute conversation with Dr. Zeev Neuwirth.
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