The Importance of Results-Oriented Patient Marketing

February 2, 2017

Market-based healthcare: What will this new Beltway promise mean for your organization?

woman on laptop

The new administration in Washington, D.C., promises a transition to true market-based healthcare, with less regulation and more choice. Given Republican interest in withdrawing the coverage mandate and implementing healthcare savings accounts and Medicaid block grants, it will also likely mean more consumer financial responsibility.

What Healthcare Consumers Need

This combination of changes will raise the stakes for healthcare consumers. Their current interest in online healthcare reviews (60% of Americans read them now, according to new Healthgrades/Health Management Academy research) will take on a more urgent tone. How can healthcare marketers meet their needs?

Quite simply, consumers will need healthcare information specific to their interests and priorities. They will choose providers based on expected value for their hard-earned healthcare dollars. In the clinical world, we think in terms of quality outcomes. Consumers focus on predictable results.

Savvy online consumers will soon ignore unsubstantiated claims of having the best care or the best doctors. Currently, 75% of consumers recognize that there are large variations in quality among doctors, while 67% identify the same variation among hospitals. Frequent online health information seekers and people 45 years of age or older are most likely to perceive these differences. Yet these same consumers have also proven to have limited interest in provider-centric quality information. What do they want?

Results-Oriented Patient Marketing

Healthcare marketers must focus on patient-centric results. This type of information has 5 key characteristics:

  1. Centralized: Currently, isolated healthcare information is spread thinly throughout many internet sites, including government, consumer, ratings organization, and health system websites. Healthgrades has taken the lead in aggregating comprehensive patient-centric information in an easy-to-read fashion. That’s because of the premise that consumers want a centralized source of healthcare outcomes information, just as savvy readers visit for book reviews and diners rely on Yelp for restaurant reviews.
  2. Easily Accessible: Online consumers seek out information at the time they need to make decisions. That means your organization’s information should be mobile-friendly and immediately actionable. Even if it’s 2am on a Sunday, a prospective patient should be able to make an appointment with one click or call.
  3. Transparent: Consumer confusion over quality ratings derives from the frequent use of complex, opaque, and unintuitive ratings methodologies. For patients, care quality is about good outcomes and avoiding complications. Care value means obtaining these results at the right price.
  4. Criteria Meaningful to Patients: Patient-centered outcomes include quality of life and the ability to return to normal activities. Consumers value accessibility (quick and easy appointment availability) most for urgent—but not emergent—conditions. They will wait longer to see the right doctor for more serious conditions or when they need surgery. Consumers determine the right fit based on a doctor’s qualifications, experience, practice focus, and patient ratings. Patient experience is the sum total of how care was delivered.
  5. Condition-Specific Information: A recent study confirms what Healthgrades has consistently found. There are 1) large differences in outcomes among hospitals for the same condition or procedure, and 2) significant variations in quality outcomes between different procedures at the same hospital. That’s why results information must be specific to a patient’s condition or procedure of interest. The hospital that excels at knee and hip replacements isn’t necessarily the same one that produces the best cardiac bypass outcomes.

Putting It Into Action

Healthgrades recently leveraged these criteria with the introduction of the Risk IQ Tool for consumers. Risk IQ offers personalized risk assessments for specific procedures, followed by distilled research information on hospital quality and physician experience with those procedures. It provides just-in-time healthcare information and quality marketing in one user-friendly online tool.

What does market-based healthcare mean? It means demonstrating results to consumers in a convenient, meaningful, and specific way.

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