Is Your Organization Prepared for Healthcare Reform?

Consumers expect their hospitals and health systems to figure out how to implement health care reform by 2014.

Even though we know that there are still more questions than answers, and a lot of skepticism on all sides, it is clear that health care as we know it is undergoing a sea change that will play out over the next ten years. The ultimate question is: how will your organization adapt?

Here are the top ten areas that your marketing department will need to address as health care reform approaches.

1. Structure. Health care reform will involve change at every level of your organization and those changes need to be integrated throughout. Organization-wide planning and internal communication will be paramount. Marketing will be in an ideal position to think strategically about the implications of these changes on your internal and external audiences. Your CMO/Marketing Director must have a seat at the leadership table.

2. Collaboration. Are you planning on becoming or joining an Accountable Care Organization? Will your hospital or physician group be one of the first to become an ACO or are you considering joining with another hospital or physician group to provide services? Collaboration will be the name of the game in the new health care world. What are you doing to build provider relationships and develop a strong offer to attract them to your organization?

3. Branding. What is your brand’s value proposition and can you continue to deliver and support it in this new environment? To complicate matters, if your organization will become an ACO, what branding strategy will you use? Will you build a separate brand or will it be a companion brand to your primary brand offer? There are many things to consider, not to mention the impact on your marketing budget and staff. It is not too early to begin thinking about brand strategies and planning.

4. Service Strategy. What are your service line strategies? What services will you offer? Which ones are the most and least profitable? Winners in the new health care arena will market to their strengths. You do not need to be all things to all people. Think about how you can drive traffic to the specialties that are the most profitable or those that serve a unique need in the market.

5. Physician Alignment. How strong are your relationships with Primary Care Providers? PCP’s will only be allowed to participate in only one ACO. Have you created an environment where physicians want to practice or refer to your hospital? Do you make it easy for them to practice there? Do you have the EHRs, online and mobile tools to make it easy to access the information they need? Do you have a marketing plan to help them attract new patients?

6. Internal Communication. Are you preparing your staff for reform? Are you helping them to understand and prepare for the changes ahead? Your physicians and staff are the ambassadors for your hospital. Information can be absorbed and change can be accepted a lot better if it is phased in over time. Are you developing a communications plan to teach them over the next two years what they will need to know?

7. Measurement. Are your marketing measurement tools in place? Do you know what the ROI is on your most prevalent procedures? Did your online campaign drive the traffic you anticipated? Do you have the information in place to justify your marketing budgets? Metrics are the new cost of entry. You are already behind if you haven’t started a formal tracking process, but you can catch up if you start now!

8. Relationship Management. Do you have a patient database and is it tied into your overall IT system? Are you tracking your patient’s visits? Do you know how often they utilize your services? Do you communicate with them regularly? What do you know about them that will help you market to them more efficiently? In the not too distant future, your hospital’s compensation will be directly tied to your quality and satisfaction scores. Your CRM system needs to be in tip-top shape for what’s ahead.

9. Information. Patient education, wellness programs and disease management will be more important than ever before. It goes without saying that one measure of quality will be the patient’s ability to follow doctor’s orders. Organizations that fine tune their patient education and look for new ways to reward compliance will have an advantage. Where does your organization stand in this area?

10. Social Connection. Despite fear and trepidation concerning HIPPA regulations, more health care organizations are biting the bullet and at least putting their big toe into the Social Media waters. Social media is your opportunity to engage with your patients, convey your brand personality and to provide meaningful, helpful content. As health care reform rolls out, the consumer is going to have a lot of questions. Don’t let them go to another resource, because you are afraid to engage. Remember, you are in charge of your social media strategy so you can decide what strategies will work best for your organization.

You will need sound thinking and smart communications to stand out in the new world of healthcare. re:group is uniquely qualified to help you with strategies, planning and execution to make transitions easier and the future of your business healthier, too.

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