Adapting Healthcare Marketing to Retailization

by | Sep 27, 2016 | Consumer Engagement

The retailization of healthcare forces marketers to take a new look at how they get patients into the doors of their facilities.

In the past, patients who need­ed spe­cial­ist care, an imag­ing test, or even an inpa­tient hos­pi­tal stay would call up their fam­i­ly physi­cian, get a refer­ral, and trav­el to the loca­tion or office the doc­tor rec­om­mend­ed. Mar­ket­ing this process was sim­ple, as mar­keters had to focus pri­mar­i­ly on their B2B audience—usually by ensur­ing that the hos­pi­tal, prac­tice or clin­ic was attrac­tive to refer­ring physicians.

Today, how­ev­er, the influx of patients insured under the pas­sage of the Afford­able Care Act—or the 10,000 Baby Boomers who become eli­gi­ble for health insur­ance through Medicare each day—has turned that process on its ear. A new type of health­care con­sumer has emerged, and this group is doing research to find health care that’s cost-effi­cient, con­ve­nient and effec­tive. As a mar­keter, you now have to look at your health­care orga­ni­za­tion with a retail mind­set and help your con­sumers find the val­ue in your prod­ucts and services.

As a result, indus­try pro­fes­sion­als are adapt­ing health­care mar­ket­ing to retailiza­tion. In order to attract patients to the prac­tices and hos­pi­tals they serve, mar­keters have to make physi­cian prac­tices and clin­ics more con­ve­nient for patients and pro­vide the infor­ma­tion patients need.

Retailization Makes Patients Savvy Healthcare Shoppers

The ACA may give patients more choice, allow­ing them to do their research as they select providers. Because of this, they’re bet­ter informed than they used to be. 

It’s like shop­ping for a tele­vi­sion. Patients have to know their options, com­pare and choose the ser­vice that’s best for them. What that means for mar­keters is that there is a greater need to be trans­par­ent. This goes not only for the ser­vices you pro­vide but for the cost of those ser­vices as well. 

It also means there’s a greater need to track patient sat­is­fac­tion. If rev­enue comes in based on out­comes rather than vol­ume, the impor­tance of patient sat­is­fac­tion ris­es dras­ti­cal­ly. Track­ing this, whether through sur­veys, reviews, or oth­er fol­low-up meth­ods, allows health­care providers to deter­mine what areas need improve­ment and take nec­es­sary measures.

The best approach to mar­ket­ing your hos­pi­tal or health­care provider in a sys­tem increas­ing­ly becom­ing like a retail mar­ket is to treat your patients as con­sumers. Be hon­est with them about what ben­e­fits you can pro­vide, make clear the ser­vices you offer and above all work to build a rela­tion­ship. Patients are more like­ly to choose a provider they feel val­ues their busi­ness, much like they’re more like­ly to shop at a store that makes them feel like wel­comed cus­tomers. 

Creating Convenience to Attract Patients

Con­ve­nience is a major fac­tor for patients when mak­ing health­care deci­sions. Time and mon­ey are pre­cious resources, and new health­care options such as Min­ute­Clin­ics offered in many CVS phar­ma­cies, as well as tele­health oppor­tu­ni­ties, allow patients to solve minor health issues quick­ly and cheap­ly. Phar­ma­cies also offer con­ti­nu­ity of care, which makes the care peo­ple receive at their clin­ics more reli­able. With that con­ti­nu­ity and con­ve­nience meet­ing patient needs, these clin­ics are becom­ing real com­peti­tors in the urgent care market.

The most impor­tant thing to remem­ber about adapt­ing health­care mar­ket­ing to retailiza­tion is to lever­age this shift to your advan­tage. Mar­ket your­self direct­ly to the con­sumer. Be upfront and trans­par­ent about what you bring to the table. If you don’t, your com­pe­ti­tion cer­tain­ly will—and you’ll be left in the dust.

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