Population Health Marketing: Value, Not Volume

by | Apr 14, 2016 | Consumer Engagement

You’ve just heard the news: Your hospital has entered into a contract to become an accountable care organization (ACO) or join a Medicare Advantage plan or a bundled payment program. What does this mean for you as a hospital marketer? 

This is prime time for health­care mar­keters to engage a more robust audi­ence than ever before, and the key to suc­cess is unlock­ing the pow­er to con­nect. By learn­ing more about your patients, seg­ment­ing those patients into groups, and then focus­ing con­di­tion-spe­cif­ic mes­sages to mem­bers of the patients, you’ll see ben­e­fits: You’ll iden­ti­fy those patients who could improve with the right sup­port, teach patients the ben­e­fit of becom­ing an active mem­ber of their health­care team, and help man­age over­all health­care costs.

When reim­burse­ment shifts from a tra­di­tion­al fee-for-ser­vice approach to a val­ue-based approach, the health­care marketer’s approach shifts, too. Very quick­ly, it becomes crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant to learn about pop­u­la­tion health mar­ket­ing and devel­op pro­grams with a well­ness focus—and pro­mote those right along­side the tra­di­tion­al ser­vice lines that focus on “fix­ing” health­care issues in volume.

Creating a Population Health Marketing Program

So how do you reach an audi­ence and change their behaviors?

Health care isn’t a one-size-fits-all indus­try, and the ser­vices your hos­pi­tal pro­vides need to bet­ter meet the needs of your patients. By seg­ment­ing your audi­ence, you can iden­ti­fy spe­cif­ic areas that need extra atten­tion and cre­ate pro­grams that match those needs.

Develop Your Segmentation Groups

At its most basic, pop­u­la­tion health seg­men­ta­tion involves divid­ing patient pop­u­la­tions into groups depend­ing on known fac­tors. For some mar­keters, this seg­men­ta­tion can based on demographics—using gen­der, age, and race to group patients into basic, wide groups. Oth­ers might focus on seg­ment­ing pop­u­la­tion based on risk levels—no to lit­tle risk, mod­er­ate risk, and high risk. Oth­ers still will divide patients into groups based on known med­ical conditions—those who are preg­nant, peo­ple with dia­betes, peo­ple with heart dis­ease, peo­ple with cancer—and oth­ers could seg­ment based on the rate at which they use health care.

Evaluate Your Resources

Once you’ve seg­ment­ed your patient pop­u­la­tion, it’s time to take a step back. Get a big­ger pic­ture idea of who this group is, and try to under­stand how they cur­rent­ly use med­ical care, any eco­nom­ic issues that might impact their access to care, and envi­ron­men­tal or cul­tur­al fac­tors that impact health risks. Look into the com­mu­ni­ty and see if pro­grams or ser­vices already exist that you can part­ner with, and deter­mine which ser­vices are miss­ing for this pop­u­la­tion group.

Put Your Plan into Action

Patients at low risk for health com­pli­ca­tions might ben­e­fit from ser­vices such as e‑newsletters that encour­age gen­er­al health and well­ness or a mag­a­zine that keeps your ser­vices top of mind.

Those at mod­er­ate risk—either because they’ve been diag­nosed with a health con­di­tion or they have unhealthy risk fac­tors that increase their risk for a condition—might ben­e­fit from spe­cif­ic pro­grams that can help them get healthy. Con­sid­er start­ing sup­port groups, host­ing sem­i­nars or offer­ing smok­ing ces­sa­tion or weight-loss pro­grams designed to help them get healthier.

Your high-risk patients, such as those who fre­quent the emer­gency depart­ment or have repeat­ed hos­pi­tal admis­sions due to life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions, such as heart dis­ease or dia­betes, might ben­e­fit from spe­cial­ized pro­grams that edu­cate them about how to bet­ter man­age their con­di­tion. In this case, pro­vide patients with mate­ri­als that can guide them to bet­ter health, and con­sid­er cre­at­ing a pro­gram where per­son­al health coach­es are assigned to patients to help the patients detect health issues in the ear­li­est stages, when they’re man­aged more eas­i­ly and cost-efficient.

The Bottom Line

The pas­sage of the Afford­able Care Act means that hos­pi­tals and oth­er health­care providers are tasked with pro­vid­ing mea­sur­able, high-qual­i­ty health care. By pro­vid­ing patients—and your community—with the tools they need to get health­i­er, the care your providers give can be more efficient.

Let’s Plan Your Strategy

Let our health­care con­tent mar­ket­ing experts help you nav­i­gate these shifts. 

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