Posts Tagged ‘Healthcare reform


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.


Hospital Marketers Have a Lot to Say… Great Insights from SHSMD

Attendees of SHSMD are all back to work and have had several days to toss collateral they don’t need, determine who to connect with on LinkedIn and begin evaluating to-do lists based on the SHSMD conference. While everyone will their personal take-aways, Mark Plumb and I developed a top list of things we heard and learned in Chicago.

We look forward to continuing discussions we began with many of the attendees of both the standard conference and the Senior Symposium. And we look forward to seeing everyone again next year. Attendees should be sure to to visit our web page for insightful white papers,

Until then, enjoy …

Top Ten from SHSMD 2010

  1. Health care reform scares everyone. And the reasons are justified:  General consensus is that regardless of what hospitals and health care organizations do now to prepare for health care reform, what they do now will be in vain. Yet, they still have to something.  The government is moving risks to hospitals, which means hospitals will require scale to absorb risks in the new environment.  The legislative health care reform of 2010 will look little like the reality of health care reform in 2014.
  2. Hospital marketers need to learn about ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations). No one really understands ACOs. The legislation is fuzzy, the information is lacking and the issues are overwhelming. The learning process should be fun and exciting.
  3. Take a lesson from Henry Ford Health System CEO, Nancy Schlichting, if you don’t want to worry about unions in your hospitals, you need to pay more attention to the employees in your hospitals.
  4. Forget 3G in the Chicago Hyatt. Ever tried to communicate via 0G?  When a conference “goes mobile,” mobile access is needed.
  5. Hospitals that fear social media are missing big opportunities to connect with their community and seem to miss the fact that there is no escaping from the prevalence of online communications. Learn to embrace it. Social media can be (and for some it is) a cornerstone for any hospital marketing plan. Use social media it to connect, to promote and to drive business.
  6. According to Dr. Paul Zak, Claremont University, Brain produces Oxytocin when active in social media. This is the same ‘happiness’ chemical the brain produces when you eat chocolate. Which means social media is mmmm…. good.
  7. Resurrection Healthcare President and CEO Sandra Bruce, believes hospital marketing departments need to know more about health care reform than any other department in the hospital. In fact, marketing departments need to know more about health care reform than hospital CEOs. How much does your marketing department know about health care reform?
  8. When your legs are as long as the Mississippi, you need clothes that cover the delta.
  9. County hospitals are an endangered species. See 1b for further explanation.
  10. If hospital CEOs want to have empathy for their consumers they should take some time to clean bedpans and hang out at nurses stations.

Want to find out more about what we learned at SHSMD 2010? Give us a call. Want to add to this list – let us know what your top takeaways were!


Despite propaganda allegations, agency hired to promote government platform.

In a recent article published in ProPublica, written by Sebastian Jones and Michael Grabell, federal stimulus money is being used to promote the safety of electronic medical records and help curve some of the resistance toward the use of information technology systems.  According to the article, the contract was said to be awarded to the PR giant, Ketchum Inc., by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The question raised in the article, however, was it a good PR move to hire Ketchum? According to the article,

“Consumer advocates warned that the PR contract will only heighten skepticism about the security of online health records. A poll conducted last year by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found that roughly six in 10 Americans lack confidence in the privacy of online health records.”

“The public has always been very suspicious over whether electronic health information will be safe,” said Dr. Deborah C. Peel, a physician and founder of the Coalition for Patient Privacy, which includes consumer, privacy and health groups. Peel called Ketchum a “very, very troubling choice because the last thing the public needs are more tricks being pulled on them.”

The “tricks” Peel refers to included (in my opinion) legitimate PR tactics as well as those that overstepped bounds and were (in my opinion) totally inappropriate.

I believe hiring a PR firm for was a good decision by HHS. PR firms have the ability to get a message out to the public in a manner they will hear and understand.

Not only do I believe that electronic medical records are necessary from a patient safety standpoint, but a virtual requirement to help decrease the ever expanding costs of

Sample Electronic Medical Record - Image Credit to Wikipedia

healthcare. Healthcare reform passing or not, when someone gets multiple CT scans from multiple providers because individual doctors cant get the previous scan results, or don’t even know that a CT had recently been performed, healthcare costs will continue to rise.  And if Ketchum is allowed to do what Ketchum does best, this message will get out to the public loud and clear.

I am concerned, however, with this agency selection. Hiring a PR firm that brings with it accusations of “covert propaganda” to spread the word about a government initiative, and paying for it with stimulus funds, has its own concerns. Combine these concerns with the heated emotions and the current partisan environment in DC, is going to bring with it a set of issues that could potentially discredit the message, discredit the president, discredit the governmental agency, and ultimately hurt the agency.

Only time will tell.

Considering Ketchum’s previous controversies, was hiring this agency a good PR move to make? Or, based on the credible and effective work Ketchum can do, will the issues really matter?  Let us know what you think.


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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