Posts Tagged ‘health care

06
Feb
13

“2013 Health Care Advertising: Looking for Answers”

Here is a preview of my featured article,”2013 Health Care Advertising: Looking for Answers, seen in the February issue of The Review.

To read the entire article, click here.

With the future of health care evolving, consumer behavior and attitudes must be examined. Weise Communications Co-founder and President Tracy Weise offers her top five suggestions for health care advertising and consumer engagement for 2013.

1.            Create Medical Communities through Social Media

Hospitals and health care systems can optimize outreach to educate consumers by moving beyond corporate websites and creating a strong social media presence via social media sites, blogs, referrals and webinars.

2.             Increase Engagement with Mobile Media

As more consumers utilize their smart phones and tablets for Web browsing, medical apps will allow consumers to order medication, set appointments, learn about health initiatives and obtain the contact information of health care institutions.

3.            Take a Broad Approach to Community Wellness

Online and offline advertising communication messages featuring, “well care” not just “sick care” will motivate consumers to take control of their own health in order to decrease hospital readmissions.

4.            Be Keenly Aware of the Competition

In order to prevent patients from traveling far and wide seeking optimal doctors and ideal medical costs, health care advertising can lesson competition for the health care consumer by creating specific and consistent messages to target audiences.

5.            Show Sensitivity for Consumer Anxiety Through Proactive, Targeted Communications

Health care institutions can ease consumer fears of the changing health marketplace by emphasizing positive messages about health care changes, providing dedication to community health, and advocating for the most profitable health care institutional services.

 

25
Sep
12

Top Ten Things We Learned at SHSMD 2012

Attendees of SHSMD2012 are back at their home locations plotting a return to Chicago in 2013, attempting to sync their Poken and wondering if they missed anything from Saturday morning’s keynote, Thomas Goetz (he only spoke to about 20% of the audience Ari Fleisher had on Thursday). While everyone will have their personal take-aways, Tracy Weise, Jay Weise and I developed a top ten list of things we learned in Philadelphia.

1. Hospitals and all medical facilities are overturning every rock for ideas, actionable plans to reduce readmission rates. The most effective tactic so far is educating the family of a patient and allowing the pressure of a loved one to encourage post-hospital stay behavior.

2. Awesome description of the difference between the nuance of healthcare system and service line marketing: The healthcare system branding creates a promise, the service line marketing delivers on the promise created.

3. The overwhelming majority of attendees were unconcerned about outcome of Presidential election as it relates to healthcare reform. Some things are in place and will stay in place; other things will change regardless of who wins.

4. Acceptance of the “must do” strategies in the American Hospital Association report:

    • Increase Hospital-Physician alignment
    • Improve the quality of patient safety
    • Make advancements in hospital efficiency
    • Develop an integrated information system

5. In a session that included an interactive questionnaire, Lack of strategy, lack of time and lack of staff were the biggest reasons offered for not implementing a robust social media plan. However, an argument can be made that there is still a lack of knowledge about social media in the healthcare marketing community.

    • Only 1.1% of the 1,300 SHSMD2012 attendees checked into the SHSMD 2012 Conference using the location based social media platform foursquare
    • Only 6.2% of the attendees tweeted using the hashtag ‘#SHSMD12

This begs the question, why are healthcare marketing experts reluctant to embrace an important ‘patient experience’ tool?

6. Web 2.0 and social media are working for patient acquisition: There were two case studies, Mayo Clinic and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with tangible results and the programs were replicable.

7. It is massively important to incorporate a disciplined planning approach to service lines prior to budget season, otherwise you’ll budget before you plan and back into the programs you can afford. At the same time you must engage physicians in the planning process and they must see action otherwise you’ll never get buy-in in future years.

8. Nobody really knows what the ACO landscape will look like, if any so called expert tells you otherwise, they don’t know what they are talking about. They may fool you, but don’t let them make a fool out of you.

9. The quantitative data to effectively manage your medical facility is available, be sure to incorporate qualitative data from physicians to complete the story.  Be sure to deep dive into data analysis if the results are contrary to the generally held opinions of hospital leadership, otherwise you have an uphill battle trying to change minds.

10. Best Quotes from SHSMD2012 – if you said any of these, you know who you are:

    • Overheard at the end of concurrent sessions on day 1: “I am ready to nap dangerously.”
    • In a session when the presenter was making a transition from social media to anal reconstruction surgery, “Before we dive into bowel movements…”
    • In a session responding to a question about strategies, objectives and tactics: “People have a harder time with strategies because they are squishy.”
    • In the exhibit hall, “Hospitals are concerned about patient tracking after they leave the hospital, but why has the term out migration been replaced with leakage.”

Want to find out more about what we learned at SHSMD 2012? Give us a call. Want to add to this list, share your thoughts here or on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow us on Twitter at @Weise_Ideas.

13
Sep
12

Health Care and Franchising – A Growing Business Model

ImageHealth care in the United States continues to evolve. With changes forthcoming, and past obstacles still being overcome, health providers are looking for ways to provide better patient outcomes and manage a sustainable business model. However, these are irrelevant if there is no access to care. Coupled with one of the largest issues to come out of the 2011 Healthcare Franchising Conference is the fact that more doctors are retiring than ever before, leading to increased opportunities to deliver a number of health care services through the franchised business model.

In my opinion, franchising give us the access to care, provides quality assurance and creates a sustainable business model for the business owners and providers.

Franchising is at the cross roads of health care and business.

Franchising has successfully evolved thousands of from thriving local businesses into iconic household names. Think: McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts. The food industry possessed the beginning of the franchise era however, over the years franchising has branched out to include product distribution and services:  The UPS Store, Fantastic Sam’s, Curves. Today we are continuing this evolution. Everything we know about quality assurance, billing, marketing, and program development for franchising is being transferred into health care. It is time to put a greater focus on this transference of knowledge.

When we follow best practices in franchising, we can deliver quality assurance to patients. We can provide practitioners – physicians, nurses, medical assistants and licensed practitioners in many fields, with the ability to focus on service delivery rather than business operations. We decrease costs for service delivery and expand access.

The senior care industry jumped into franchising with great force, and the opportunity can be traced to the aging population. According to A Profile of Older Americans: 2011 developed by the Administration on Aging (AoA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; By the year 2030, one in five Americans will be a “senior citizen.” From 2010 to 2030, the number of baby boomers age 65-84 will grow by an estimated 80 percent while the population age 85 and older will grow by 48 percent. In addition, between 1994 and 2020 the nation’s population of 85 years and older is projected to double to 7 million, and then is projected to increase to 19 – 27 million by 2050. With the number of prospective clients growing exponentially, the franchise home health care/senior care industry is booming and will likely continue to grow.

Other health industries such as emergency care, dental services, chiropractic care, primary care, mental health companies, drug testing business and surgical centers are all growing in prominence in franchising. In essence, any effective healthcare business can replicate its model and begin franchising.

I do not believe we can or should solely rely on the federal government to provide us access to affordable health care. We are a country full of the entrepreneurial spirit and we house some of the best health care providers in the world. When you combine these traits, we have the opportunity to develop great health care franchises that will solve many of our cost and access issues. These solutions are right at our fingertips.

Weise Communications, along with Faegre Baker Daniels and Management 2000 will sponsor the second annual Franchising in Health Care Conference, October 24 – 25, 2012, in Denver Colorado. At this conference, we will cover challenges unique to this industry, including compliance and regulatory issues when across state lines. If you are interested in attending this conference visit our conference site for more information. http://www.franchisinghealthcare.com/ Hurry, the Early Bird pricing ends September 15, 2012.

For more information about how Weise Communications can help your health care company franchise, contact me at tracy@weiseideas.com.

20
Sep
11

Top Ten Things We Learned at SHSMD2011

Attendees of SHSMD2011 are all dealing with re-entry work, attempting to sync their Poken and evaluating to-do lists based on the SHSMD conference. While everyone will have their personal take-aways, Jay Weise and I developed a top ten list of things we heard and learned in Phoenix.

1. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes provisions about IRS oversight of requirements that nonprofit healthcare providers must meet in order to maintain their tax-exempt status. Nonprofit organizations are seeking assistance to track community benefit programs and keep it in a format approved by the IRS. This is an opportunity for the right company.

2. HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) is a national survey that asks patients about their experiences during a recent hospital stay.  When will the general public adopt HCAHPS as criteria they use to select a hospital? Unfortunately, there is a lot of focus by hospital administration on these scores, but no evidence that a patient is using it in the hospital selection process.

3. The new buzzword, ‘Patient Experience’ Not patient-centered, not patient-centric, not patient-focused…Patient Experience.  This is intended to represent the totality of the interactions and perceptions of interactions between the patient and the health care facility. Patients with a more favorable experience are more likely to adhere to treatment protocol, have a positive outcome and provide favorable recommendations to others.

4. A big question from the conference: is government mandated health care constitutional? When will a ruling that provides certainty occur? How much legislative change will occur to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act prior to the large provisions taking effect in 2014?

5. From Michael Sachs’ keynote presentation on Friday, Constitutionality ruling on healthcare reform will not affect the macro trends in the healthcare industry.

6. Hospitals are waiting for someone to figure out a strategy for Accredited Care Organizations (ACO’s) before they adopt it. Right now there is too much uncertainty and confusion. ACO’s are too far away from current Key Performance Indicators.

7. From Jeff Bauer’s keynote presentation on Saturday, “By 2020, there will be more people living in the United States under 18 that were born outside the U.S. than were born inside the U.S.” The impact on medical treatments will be far-reaching. For example, men of Korean descent do not have the genetic enzyme to process the anti-depression drug, serotonin. How will this effect care, drug protocols, pharmaceutical company focus and online information?

8. Marketing strategist in healthcare organizations are the only people in the organization that can bring the customers point of view to strategy. Hospital Administrators are counting on the marketing strategist voice. Marketers need to speak up.

9. Healthcare marketers must consider the system of care is not inside the hospital walls, it is outside of it. Healthcare marketing strategists must take the leadership position and consider all entry points including: the website, community events, referral lines, physician offices, etc.

10. Integration across multiple platforms of data and across functional areas within a medical facility must occur to provide value to patients. The cost-efficiencies will be mandated in health care reform and are essential in a competitive environment.

Maybe we should have called this a top fourteen list because we have to include some of our favorite quotes:

“Patients fear rude doctors and nurses more than death.” – Colleen Sweeney, Director of Innovation, Ambassador, and Customer Services,
Memorial Health System, South Bend, IN

“HIPAA is the mullet of patient safety, your data is not as protected as you think.” – David McDonald, CEO, True North Custom Media, Chattanooga, TN

“Be realistic when setting Facebook goals for any hospital. Who really wants to LIKE a hospital?” – Dean Browell, Executive Vice President, Feedback, Richmond, VA

“The FDA has rejected many new cancer drugs because they were tested on the wrong kinds of cancer.” – Jeffrey C. (Jeff) Bauer, Ph.D. Health Futurist and Medical Economist, Chicago, IL

Want to find out more about what we learned at SHSMD 2011? Give us a call. Want to add to this list, share your thoughts here or on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow us on Twitter at @Weise_Ideas.

17
Aug
11

Can Mobile Technology Help Create a Better Health Care System?

Mobile technology could help reform health care and change the way illness is treated all over the world.

One of the most important things is how mobile applications could change the health care systems focus on reactive care and treatment to preventative strategies. If health care could focus on prevention, then less time would be spent on immediate treatment in hospitals and doctors’ offices, cutting costs of health care significantly. This is especially important for developing nations, given the ratio of doctors to patients is significantly lower than that of developed nations.

Along with a more preventative approach, mobile technology could help distribute the responsibilities. Allowing people to have help at there figure tips and not have to run the nearest hospital.

Four tips to begin mobile technology focused health care are:

  1. Getting Comfortable with Non-Clinical Sources
    Patients sharing with patients could be a huge untapped community. While doctors and nurses may not feel it is appropriate to share due to potential privacy violations, patients could share with each other.
  2. Build Tools to Support
    Create tools to remind patients of vaccinations dates, appointments, or preventative visits. Build this into your practice now
  3. Find Systems that are Working to Support People, then Build on Them
  4. Start Small and Learn Your Way to the Right Solutions Through a Deep Understanding of Patient and User Context

The biggest hurtle for mobile health care technology is existing regulatory and reimbursement structures in place, especially in the U.S. It may take a while for mobile health care to take off, but being ready for adopting is key since it may be one of the greatest outlets for improving patient care and costs.

How do you think mobile technology will impact health care? We’d love to hear from you.

10
Aug
11

Seven Tips for Health Care Companies on Facebook

Social media is one of the biggest marketing tools for companies all over the world. While many companies have found success in this tool, the health care industry has taken a slower and more cautious approach to using social media. Facebook, the biggest social media platform out there, is a great place to start and a great learning tool if you are new to the social media experience. Mashable created a Facebook Marketing Series that includes lots of great tips and advice to get started. We have taken the 8 Tips for Health Care and Pharmaceutical Companies’ on Facebook and reworked them to reflect our experiences. Below are seven Tips for Health Care Companies on Facebook.

 

Tip 1: Is Your Product Consumer-Facing
Are consumers your target? If so, consumers love to research products online, so having a great Facebook page would be appropriate. On the other hand, if you are marketing to physicians, they do not discuss work on Facebook so it may not be the appropriate.

Tip 2: Provide Useful Information
The whole purpose of Facebook is the socialize, so don’t try to bombard consumers with things they are not going to do, such as asking them to follow several steps or share private information. On Facebook, just be helpful, provide your patients with the information they want to obtain and do not ask much more.

Tip 3: Ask Intelligent and Related Questions
Ask and listen to your consumers, if they are giving your site a chance, then they may be willing to participate.

Tip 4: Have Real Experts Lead Discussions
This is a no brainer; consumers want to speak with people who know the facts. So, if you are using PR or marketing to lead your social media content, make sure they know the facts as well as your experts, and have the experts readily accessible to help answer any questions that PR and marketing cannot.

Tip 5: Create a Publishing Schedule
Create a content schedule of relevant information and questions that can be delivered through your Facebook page. You need to stay relevant with Facebook users and the only way to do this is to continuously put up new content and questions to keep users engaged.

Tip 6: Establish the Right Success Metrics
Make sure you are not just using the “like” button or your number of fans to rate the success of your Facebook page. You also need to be looking at the number of conversations, the number of repeat visits, and pages viewed per visit.

Tip 7:  Make a Social Media Commitment
You need to create a community for your consumers to participate. Continue to grow and feed your community.

With these tips and helpful hints, Facebook should be an easy way to start using social media. It is time for the health care industry to get more involved in this marketing tool and to start using it to benefit consumers and companies alike.

21
Jun
11

5 Ways to Get the Media to Pick Up Your Story – Part 1 of 3

Please welcome guest blogger, healthcare communications professional Rachel Brand who will bring The Side Note a series of three blogs for the next three weeks on health care public relations.

Do you want to write more compelling press releases and earn more coverage?

You should. Health care is ripe with dramatic medical rescues, fascinating technology, unsung heroes and stirring ethical debates. But these stories often don’t get told. That’s because pr pros are writing leads like this:

IMPORTANT RESOURCES FOR INSURANCE AGENTS, BROKERS, HEALTH-RELATED ORGANIZATIONS AND COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATIONS

The new health insurance plan, authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is designed to provide coverage to uninsured individuals who have been denied health insurance or been offered only unaffordable options.

Sure, it’s important. But is it interesting? And – will it drive coverage?

1. Lead with the impact

For your next lede, ask yourself out loud, “what does it mean to the man in the green pick-up truck?” You can see him, across the park under the tree, sitting in his rusty forest green truck.

In other words, how does your news benefit, effect or change the lives of real people?

How about:

Thousands of uninsured Americans, desperate for healthcare coverage because they are chronically ill, can now see a doctor thanks to a new federally funded health insurance plan.

But what if your program doesn’t have any direct impact on people, at least not yet? Then…

2. Lead with people

Whether you are promoting a walk to fight cancer, a rally for homelessness, or the appointment of new CEO of your hospital, find a person and tell his or her story. Better, yet, tell the story of an important person in an unusual way.

Typical CEO appointment releases have headlines/first paragraphs like this:

LARRY LEADER APPOINTED CEO OF ST. ELIZABETH’S REGIONAL HOSPITAL

(Anytown, USA) Lawrence Leader, currently the COO of St. Elizabeth’s Regional Hospital, has been appointed CEO of the hospital. He takes over as current CEO Marcy Mercy retires after a long and distinguished career.

But what if you took a half hour to find out Larry’s story?

The results might be:

MEDIC, HOSPITAL PORTER, NOW CEO – ST. ELIZABETH’S NEW CEO HAS SEEN HEALTHCARE FROM THE BOTTOM UP

(Anytown, USA) Larry Leader’s mother, a first-grade schoolteacher in Moline, IL, used to count out coins from her wallet each Saturday morning before grocery shopping. Rarely was there extra to buy candy.

Poor but strong-willed Florence Leader pushed her children to go to college. Larry, the youngest of five, enrolled as an Army medic to pay for it. …

The moral of the story? Writing a compelling press release that leads with the impact or leads with people is a better way to get the media to notice your press release.

(Continued next week)

Rachel Brand is a healthcare communications professional who can teach writing over brown bag lunches at your company. Contact her at rachel (at) brandcommunicationsllc.com.


25
Jan
11

Making your health care practice social is all about being creative

There will always be a steady demand for health care. But for a number of hospitals, urgent care units and independent physicians, finding ways to make your facility stand apart from competitors’ practices is difficult. As with any business, finding avenues to make your establishment more appealing to its customer base will aid in growth, development and potential notoriety for services rendered.

Not every clinic or care facility is the same. Finding ways to emphasize your clinics advantages and spread the word, is an important step toward optimizing your patient base. Doing so by way of social networking may prove to be very successful.

The first step in doing this is to understand what your clients care about most. Are they interested in safety? Outcomes? Having a personal connection with their physician? Use of EMRs? Location? Reputation of facility? These are all things to take into consideration when maintaining and reaching new patients. Once there is a clear understanding of what your current and future patients are looking for, the next step is to successfully reach them.

Social networking is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to reach a target audience, brand your establishment and promote a healthy expansion. As noted by The Society for Healthcare Strategy & Marketing Development, there are a number of concepts that may improve marketing for your hospital, clinic or care facility. Take advantage of the “find –a-doctor directories” where you are able to post information pertaining to your facility and/or individual physicians. These portals such as WebMD are searched daily by potential clients in your area. Yet another effective method is through mobile marketing. Begin offering new services such as text message confirmation of appointments. Mobile devices offer highly direct and efficient messaging. Finding new ways to utilize these tools will set your practice apart.

Such networks as Facebook and Twitter allow your business to potentially reach millions of people. Facebook alone has more than 500 million active users. Imagine the impact it will have if you are able to reach even a fraction of these active users who are perfect prospective patients for your practice.

Social networks bridge people together and allow businesses to connect with and update their current and future customers. Take advantage of these social marketing tools and find how they can fit into your marketing strategy. Start a page that showcases awards, links to positive reports, discount services and community involvement to positively impact your practice.

Methodist University Hospital uses its YouTube page to promote the hospital to prospective patients, even posting a video webcast of an awake craniotomy. “The goal is to further our reputation as well as to educate the community, who will ask their physicians about our care,” said Jill Fazakerly, Methodist’s marketing director in a New York Times article.

Another example is the Children’s Hosiptal of Philadelphia whose Facebook page has 19,000 plus likes. Not too shabby.

What original ideas is your practice using to reach potential patients?

For more tips and information on utilizing social networking to benefit your health practice call Weise Communications at 303-996-9940, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

 

 

 

10
Sep
10

You Want to Put Your Mouth On My What? Communication Principles in Practice at Your Hospital.

At the Side Note Blog we can’t really let a nipple sucking doctor get by without comment, now can we?

The story is rather offensive. A 20-year-old woman went to the doctor for a breast exam because of fluid seeping from her breast. The male doctor decided to “diagnose” the fluid seepage by obtaining permission to suck  her breast. Yes, he sucked on her breast. Unfortunately the Finnish court let the doctor off of sexual solicitation charges brought by the patient because the doctor  asked and obtained permission from the patient to suck on her breast.

Are you kidding me?

What was the patient supposed to say?

I am sure her “permission” sounded something like “uh… uh huh?”

I never went to medical school, but even I can come up with numerous ways of extracting a bodily fluid for testing that does not include anything unhygienic or overtly sexual.

I think it’s time to send med students and physicians back to school for additional communication courses. We are taught from a very young age to trust physicians. To do what they tell us to do. When they prescribe a medicine, we take it. When they order a test, we get it. A 20-year-old women worried about her health, seeking the advice of a physician, probably didn’t know HOW to respond to the physician’s offensive request.

I have had the pleasure to work with many wonderful physicians over the years. They all know that they leverage power over their patients. The good ones don’t abuse that power. The good physicians embrace this power and use it to inspire hope, increase confidence and decrease fear.

What are your physicians saying to their patients? How does their power of persuasion impact the healthcare provided by your institution? And what communication training do you use to ensure there is no offensive behavior at your organization? Tell us your stories here.

30
Nov
09

Healthcare Marketing: Combating the Change in Insurance Coverage

I’ve been reading online posts for moms who live in my area, and one thing has become rather repetitive over the last month or so during the health insurance open-enrollment period – health insurance costs are skyrocketing and people are making changes. The post I see most often goes something like this:

 

“Anyone a member of Kaiser that can give me some feedback on selecting a primary care physician? My insurance premiums are doubling and my family needs to make a change to something we can afford. Kaiser seems like the best option.”

 

Kaiser Permanente, an HMO system, seems to be an affordable choice for many people in this area. Healthcare reform, in whatever shape or size it may finally come, won’t come fast enough to prevent people from changing their insurance programs to combat the ever-increasing premium costs.  And as more and more people move to an HMO type of healthcare/insurance treatment model, hospitals outside of the HMO system (in Denver there are more than a dozen non-Kaiser hospitals) will fight for fewer potential patients.

 

If, as I believe it will, the patient pool for non-HMO facilities shrinks, what are hospitals going to do to maintain or increase revenue? More importantly, how can a hospital or hospital system increase a sense of loyalty that is strong enough to override insurance/financial changes?

 

First and foremost, hospital executives need to evaluate any potential operations, as well as staffing and technology concerns. The next step is making sure their marketing messages resonate.

What do you offer patients that other facilities don’t?

We get it. You care about your patients. You have advanced technology. You deliver beautiful babies. You probably have private hospital rooms. And you have great docs. So what? This doesn’t make you any different from your competitors. Don’t embark on a marketing campaign that doesn’t differentiate your facility from your competitors. The public has heard these messages and doesn’t listen anymore. What really makes your hospital different? If you don’t know, it’s time to find out. Community focus groups or surveys are a great way to get this information. Don’t be afraid to also do your own competitive research. Take tours of the other hospitals. Check out their Web sites and collateral materials. Conduct focus groups and/or man-on-the-street interviews to find out what people like and don’t like about your hospital and your competitors. Good planning starts with good research.

 

Why should patients care?

Make sure your marketing message includes the benefit to your patients. It’s not enough to just say you have the highest percentage of patient satisfaction in the metro area, you need to include the information on why this is important. It may be obvious to the hospital marketing team, but is it obvious to your audience? Why is your satisfaction rate so high? Why does this make you the best hospital choice? Don’t take for granted the benefit to our audience.

 

How do you deliver the information?

The medium for your message is just as important as the actual message. The communication and advertising landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years, and you need to make sure the online, broadcast or print media you are paying for is the most effective way to get your message out. What online portals are you using for banner ads? How effective is your public relations campaign and are your news releases being optimized and distributed to maximize results?

 

Those are just a few steps you can take and questions you can ask yourself to ensure your hospital stands out and your marketing message resonates.

 

What is your hospital doing to increase your audiences’ sense of loyalty?




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