Healthcare reform has been a topic of public discussion for many years. It’s a debate continues today. It seems that hospitals and providers constantly struggle to find ways to beat the competition. While various initiatives continue to search for an effective blueprint for change, competition is fierce.
The health industry and the competitive landscape for providers are “undergoing a seismic change.” The expected benefit of lower costs is not particularly apparent. But consolidations, mergers and other factors have produced more informed and demanding consumers.
Competition among health systems, hospitals, medical groups and provider practices is normal but intense. Being relatively new, the marketing and advertising plans for health care delivery systems continue to evolve. The organizations and individuals who are successfully stepping ahead of the competition:
The old school, fee-for-service system is giving way to stronger consumer expectations in positive outcomes and patient satisfaction. The traditional provider-centric arrangement is morphing into a patient-centric, retail-minded system. Yesterday’s patient is now an empowered and informed healthcare consumer. Here are some of the best ways to beat the competition in the redefined marketplace:
Be different from (and better than) the competition. In healthcare, the cornerstone of success is differentiation. Communicate exactly how your services are superior to any other option. What sets you apart, and ahead, of the competition? (There may be more than one track in this process.) Determine what the target audience needs or wants and how you answer it.
Provide a unique way to satisfy this need—expressed in a way the competition doesn’t claim. Success requires understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the competition as well as your own. What is the primary reason that they should call you before anyone else?
Meet your prospective patient online. Typically, today’s patient journey begins online. It is the primary channel for health and medical research by most patients. Consumers actively research symptoms, medical conditions, and treatment options. More than 80 percent of American consumers look online for healthcare information. And nearly half (47 percent) search for doctor/providers, and 38 percent search for hospitals. [Pew Research]
Digital marketing is primary. In many marketing sectors, digital channels lead traditional avenues. And healthcare consumer marketing is a leader. Recent surveys reveal that three-quarters of patients use search engines before making an appointment. And for hospital traffic, search leads all other referral sites dramatically. An integrated plan that delivers a strong Internet presence will include:
Make mobile/responsive design and local/convenient priorities. The most intense competitive battlefield is not far. People use their smartphone or mobile device for immediate (near real-time) answers. Websites must instantly detect the type of device. What’s more, people want to find answers to their needs that are geographically close and convenient.
Consistently deliver exceptional patient experience. Of course, people want a positive clinical outcome. In their mind, that’s what healthcare providers do. But it is patient experience and satisfaction that makes your services remarkable. That inspires positive physician ratings, referrals and recommendations, repeat or future business. That which is “remarkable” is what makes people feel special, and what they will proactively share with others.
What would you do if the page was blank and you could reinvent healthcare delivery from the customer’s (patient’s) perspective? The providers, practices and hospitals that successfully break down patient service barriers emerge as leaders. Beating the competition is success with each patient encounter.