September 6, 2010
Ambulatory care centers can offer a profit, stand out among your competitors, increase patient satisfaction, align physician partners and will help market your community hospital.
They help meet your hospital’s goals
Ambulatory care centers involve competition and collaboration between hospitals and their medical staffs. Understanding your community hospital’s goals for physician alignment, patient satisfaction and profit is critical for communicating the right message to hospital partners.
- Profit – Revenues from 1987 – 2007 increased from 19 percent to 38 percent in ambulatory care centers (Olsen, K., “Outpatient Outlook,” HealthLeaders, January 2007). While traditional inpatient care centers margins have stagnated and declined by 10 percent between the same time. Significant increases in outpatient service volumes have created quite a buzz.
- Healthcare reform – To meet the goal of reducing the number of uninsured patients, ambulatory care centers will provide more health services for the increased Â demand and provide the efficiency to accommodate the increased volume. Outpatient-oriented care facilities will also benefit when the shift will focus on preventive services and healthy behaviors.
- Relationships with physicians and patients - Opportunity to develop effective outpatient service strategies can further physician income to help with their declining income stream. Patients will benefit from accessible, coordinated care for a wider range of services and conveniences in an outpatient setting.
- Ease hospital overcrowding
- Expand community brand and market share in growing suburbs
- Enable you to add services despite capital constraints
They also help meet patients’ goals
- Shortening ambulance and patient travel times
- Saving money
- Reducing wait time
- Providing greater access to care
- Increasing patient convenience and satisfaction
Developing an ambulatory care service strategy is critical for a successful outpatient center:
- Service line capabilities – Evaluate the gaps in services you currently offer and how you can expand screening, prevention and care management. Consider how changing technology, reimbursement and regulation could affect future offerings at your ambulatory care center.
- Service delivery – Adopt and practice a more efficient and customer-focused operation. Build a more patient-focused model of care.
- Market position – Assessment of the market for opportunities to add or grow services. Identify any outpatient services where your organization can penetrate the market.
- Physician alignment – Build with physicians that align with your hospital’s goals and objectives.
- Management capacity and infrastructure – Processes, systems and facilities must be well-organized, consumer friendly and well-integrated.
St. Vincent Case Study ResultsSt. Vincent Medical Center sought to expand their presence in the city’s fast-growing northeast suburbs and opened St. Vincent Medical Center Northeast in October 2008. It is providing better, more accessible care, and was a key financial strategy for St. Vincent.
- 67.2 percent increase in its patient volumes in the area during the first nine months after the building opened
- Created a new source of referrals for St. Vincent-affiliated physicians
- Achieve “first-to-market” status
Do you know of an ambulatory care center that has benefited the community? Do you have additional marketing strategies for outpatient care centers?
September 1, 2010
Community hospitals that identify the emerging male market and engage them early on will be well-rewarded.
We all know women make most of the healthcare decisions for their families in America. But recent trends show that the economy is changing the roles of healthcare decision makers in the family. Understanding how the male makes healthcare decisions will benefit your bottom-line.
Today’s women are multi-taskers and jugglers trying to stay in control while working hard. Marketers have learned communication should be strategic, consistent, clear and compassionate to resonate with the female audience.
But these busy women are even busier now that 82 percent of layoffs over the past 12 months have affected men. Combine that with the fact that 58 percent of college graduates are women and you’ve got the makings of a potentially powerful trend. Today’s dads spend 22 hours a week on childcare-related activities, double what it was 30 years ago, from the New York Times article, As Layoffs Surge, Women May Pass Men in Job Force.
The fact is we might have new family decision makers to “woo.”
Men approach healthcare much as they do maintenance of an automobile; if it’s not broken, no need to fix it. Women, on the other hand, tend to gather information about health and wellness which makes them feel less vulnerable to poor outcomes.
To begin, it is important to understand how to evaluate this new male audience and key service lines to focus on.
The key gender differences in men:
- Not as proactive about seeking healthcare services
- Perform less primary care screenings and preventive measures
- Less focused on relationship-building with physician
- Shorter office visits
- Smoke and drink more
- Higher levels of work-related stress
- Shorter life expectancies
When doing research for your next project, begin evaluating your specific male audience by answering these questions:
- What do these males value?
- Where do they go to find information?
- Who do they trust as referral sources?
- What do they need to make decisions?
One way to hone in on your marketing process is by identifying 5 universal truths about men:
- Men seek enlightenment and expertise.
- They seek success on their own terms.
- Men happily define themselves as principle-driven.
- They identify themselves as family-centric.
- Women can sway a man’s decision. (Market to the man, sell to the woman.)
Men should not be overlooked as a key opportunity for driving volume and market share for your hospital. They provide more opportunity to improve their personal state of health and, thus, reduce the costs associated with their healthcare.
Key service line opportunities to market to men are:
- Cardiovascular — Men develop cardiovascular disease 10 to 15 years earlier than women. Men are diagnosed with acute myocardial infarction at a rate almost twice that of women and the death rate is far greater for men.
- Depression — Each year approximately 6 million men are diagnosed with depression. The suicide rate for men is more than four times that of women.
- Prostate — Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of death in American men.
- Obesity — Estimated to shorten the life expectancy in men nine years. The National Institute of Diabetes sites being overweight substantially increases a man’s risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer.
I love this humorous quote from a male marketer, Rob Rosenberg:
“The key to reaching men is to focus on one thing: THEM. Men want to know how your service will make them look, feel, and stack up against others. Think quicker recovery times; excellent outcomes; and improved health, strength, and vitality. And if you have some large equipment to brag about, feel free to do so.”
Cancer marketing built on data-driven facts without exaggeration and the use of words such as highest, lowest, first, best (anything that can’t be backed up) is the only way to build a campaign with integrity and transparency.
Typically, community hospitals’ cancer ads sell hope to the public from anecdotal data that would not be statistically valid.
Marketers should use their analytical skills to identify statistically valid facts that provide differentiation between your hospital and its competitors. Creative departments should attempt to conceive ads which are emotionally powerful but checked for accuracy and facts to support claims.
Cancer marketing built on data-driven facts without exaggeration and the use of words such as highest, lowest, first, best that can’t be backed up is the only way to build a campaign with integrity and transparency.
Cancer strikes fear in us all. Today one in every four Americans is diagnosed with cancer. Cancer service lines tend to focus on fear-based emotional marketing to persuade patients into believing its hospital is the miracle cure for cancer. Our job as healthcare marketers is to sell our hospital’s cancer center with integrity and transparency.
In a recent New York Times article, Natasha Singer provides examples how technology, testimonial and cancer research advertisements have not used facts to support their emotional claims.
The two following cancer center ads show how far the cancer message has been pushed to be compelling and remembered:
1. It seems like a miracle
“Cancer, you said I’d never bear children,” reads the handwritten letter, held out by Michelle, a healthy-looking woman, as a toddler peeks from behind the paper. “My daughter says you’re wrong,” print ad from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Facts – Special case of early-stage cervical cancer
- Other hospitals in New Jersey could offer her only a hysterectomy.
- Eligible for a novel operation (less invasive surgery) that is now standard treatment at the center.
- Needed fertility treatments to conceive.
- One of the few patients who did not need radiation — which can cause fertility problems.
- Became pregnant.
Ellen Miller-Sonet, vice president for marketing at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, said “Consumers seeing the ads realize that these were individual stories. They know that no two people are the same.”
I question this statement. We all want to believe that when our family member or ourselves fall victims to cancer that these heroic case studies will happen for us too. Advertisers attempt to provoke an emotional reaction in their messaging, but they cannot control how a patient or patient’s family actually reacts.
2. Life without cancer
“We gave Nick something he couldn’t find anywhere else in the Northeast. Life without cancer.” Quoted by a pediatric patient with brain cancer’s mom at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston.
Facts – Use of radiology proton beam therapy machine
- True – Only hospital in the Northeast with this treatment option.
- Quoted by Dr. Birkmeyer of Michigan: “No studies have shown that proton beam therapy has higher brain cancer cure rates than other treatment methods.”
- If the maker of a radiology machine had run this same ad “promising “life without cancer,” the FDA would require them to support the claims.
We all can find cancer patients like Nick and Michelle who have experienced a positive outcome. Natasha cited in her article, “Cancer experts interviewed for this article say there are no comprehensive statistics showing that any one elite medical center has better overall cancer success rates than its competitors.”
We all have fallen victim to promoting the latest technologies, promised unique care or recounted miraculous patient recoveries without the use of data to back up the claims.
In my marketing experience, it felt good knowing the stories and claims could provide hope to patients and their families when a diagnosis seemed so bleak. But I would hate for the families to feel they are to blame if a loved one’s treatment doesn’t succeed like I gave claim to. We should provideÂ meaningful and actionable information that allows them to make informed decisions about their health.
Do you feel these campaigns use superiority claims or are based on survivor success stories without medical statistics to back their claims? Do you think they could bring false hope to patients?
- Abington Memorial Hospital Commercial
- TV Commercial from Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center
- “Making Cancer History” promotional site from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston
Read the entire article: Cancer Center Ads Use Emotion More Than Fact.