We recently hosted a discussion with McKinsey & Company experts on how health system marketing strategies can empower growth transformation. Here’s what you need to know to develop your patient engagement and acquisition plans.
We spoke with McKinsey & Company Healthcare Practice Partners Rupal B. Malani, MD, and Jenny Cordina to share insights and recommendations from the firm’s new report: “Preparing for the next normal now: How health systems can adopt a growth transformation in the COVID-19 world.”
Here are highlights from the report and our discussion on health system marketing in the COVID-19 era.
Start planning your growth strategy now.
Dr. Malani points out that a proactive approach to planning and implementing growth strategies is a common thread among companies that emerge stronger from a downturn.
When McKinsey examined 2,000 companies that were at the average point of their industry sectors in 2007 and came out ahead following the recession, they all had a multi-lever approach to margin enhancement with a significant emphasis on growth.
Though major differences exist between the current crisis and the 2008–09 financial crisis, namely including the humanitarian toll and sources of financial stress and consumer demand declines, the research indicates the outperformers not only modulated spending in the midst of crisis, but also acted to thoughtfully prepare for the future.
Dr. Malani says such a through-cycle growth mentality can be especially effective in healthcare, as demonstrated by multiple health systems across the country that have publicly announced measures to drive margin growth.
“Even in the midst of a crisis, [market leaders] are thinking about, planning for and executing against initiatives to drive revenue and margin growth after the crisis subsides,” she says. “When we apply that to health systems, it means now is a very important time to think about a comprehensive growth plan.”
Embrace the changes rushing up at health systems.
The way that health systems think about margin enhancement will be fundamentally different in a post-COVID-19 environment, says Dr. Malani.
In some ways, the future state is clear: The digital channel, for example, has been pushed open as a mechanism to drive growth and access. In other ways, the future is less certain. Consumers globally avoided acute care channels in the midst of case surges, and it remains to be seen whether this will lead to a longer-term preference for outpatient care settings.
Overall, however, competition is expected to increase in every market, requiring providers to rethink their growth strategies. As they do so, they can learn lessons from the past. McKinsey’s recent survey of health system executives reveals that health systems have historically focused on cost-focused initiatives rather than growth transformations, despite the latter having a greater positive impact on margin.
Moreover, the more levers included in the growth transformation, the greater the subsequent impact on margin.
Challenge assumptions on how well you’re communicating.
Despite the amount of content being produced by health systems in response to COVID-19, McKinsey data shows the large majority of consumers feel they are not getting the information they need from their providers to make informed health choices.
“We still have not reached 15% of consumers who say they have heard from their healthcare provider,” Cordina says. “There’s a significant gap between the amount of communication being created versus the perceived receipt of that information.”
She recommends taking a step back and remembering the fundamentals of audience segmentation and personalization. For example, when a COVID-19 vaccine is available and healthcare entities seek to inform consumers of their options, we should be mindful that, for example, younger people do not rely on physician advice as much as senior adults. Messages must be tailored in a way that matters to them and come from those they most trust.
“There’s so much messaging out there creating fatigue and complacency that it’s critical to identify trusted messengers, and share information in the channels and formats that speak to the consumer on a relevant, personal level,” Cordina says.
“Getting that communication right becomes extremely important in this world where people are overwhelmed with information.”
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