The future of Health Care Marketing was another informative session from AMA Health Care SIG series.
A couple of decades ago health care and marketing were incompatible. Even now, “What is the role of marketing?” is still debated in health care.
In health care, most marketing efforts are focused in the areas where consumer can make a decision, maternity care for example. HealthEast employs 120 physicians and over 450 refer patients to the organization.
Many information systems in health care organizations were designed for financial purposes, not marketing. It creates additional difficulty.
Not long ago quality of health care was not an issue – patients assumed that the quality was high and did not express any desire to “shop” for health care services. Now, 30% of patients claim to be interested in evaluating quality of health care services; most of these patients either have a health condition themselves, or have somebody in the family with health conditions.
A decade ago an internet was used to supplement the primary media sued for health care promotions. Today the Internet is the primary media. “We hardly do anything without creating a microsite.” Microsites are used as an additional call to action and reinforcement of the message that can not be fully communicated on the web site itself. HealthEast had to face constraints of cuts and over last two year cut 43% of staff and costs.
HealthEast promotes some of its facilities as “destinations,” for example; Woodland is positioned as an orthopedic destination. A facility is appropriate as the destination center if it has not only high quality care, but also a high patient satisfaction rate.
The nature of health care will remain episodic and transactional; it is important to establish the relationships with the patient, to become a “partner.”
What kind of improvements patients seek based on the surveys? A few years ago hospitals were evaluated on a “hotel service” – quality of food, etc. Now, patients changed their views, but the patients requests are still simple:
- need to be acknowledged as an individual
- the treatment needs to be explained to the patient
- the patient needs to be introduced to everybody who will be involved.
HealthEast is trying to fulfill these requirements through recruitment and hiring.
HealthEast pays attention to the architecture to improve the healing process. Research shows that hospital surrounding can speed up healing and reduce the need for pain medication. The interior of the building has soft colors and aesthetically pleasing (including light fixture in the patient rooms). Natural light is used as much as possible and most rooms have wonderful view. The hospital uses wooden elements which were also known to help healing process. The portion of the room with outlets for the equipment is designed as a wooden panel – the outlets hidden in the wall. Patient rooms are private, with space for the family and shortest possible distance from the bed to the bathroom to decrease patients’ falls.
Marketing News published a detailed article describing the campaign to introduce the new hospital. The campaign is credited for 0.5% increase in market share in October and November 2008; budget for the campaign was $825,000. St. Joseph’s CyberKnife Center received 40% increase in patients during last year – year and a half.