Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Healthcare Marketing
The Present and Future State

Healthcare Marketers Face Tough Challenges

One of the industries I've been involved in over the past 20 years is healthcare -- the providers, the payers and the life science producers. Never have marketers in these three categories been so challenged with issues so complex they defy solution. Here's how I see it.

Providers Getting Squeezed from All Sides -- Payors, Government & Consumers

Margins will be squeezed and closures and consolidation will be felt in every city. Providers must demonstrate higher levels of clinical quality, improved service and convenience at reasonable cost. They will need to get better at segmenting the market and designing clinical programs focused on the needs of specific customers.

Demand for chronic, post acute and long-term care will increase and providers will respond with newly designed facilities that reflect the needs of an aging population and with specialties that address, for example, gerontology and rheumatology.

In the face of such consumer power, it is more important than ever that providers learn how to communicate value propositions that create and maintain consumer loyalty. To meet consumer expectations, providers must be able to use electronic channels to acquire and interact with patients.

Life Sciences Industry Must Keep Everyone Happy

Pharmaceutical firms, medical equipment manufacturers, medical researchers will all feel more economic and political pressure to reduce the cost of healthcare. It is Catch 22 on a massive scale. Consumers, providers and payors expect constant improvement in the quality, reliability and durability of drugs, procedures, medical devices. They will demand access to life style drugs and innovative drugs and devices that payors may not want to cover.

Companies will have to focus on consumer satisfaction and buying behavior to innovate new products and services that address real needs. Direct marketing to consumers will increase, but the rules will continue to be undefined and inconsistent.

Health Insurance Industry Caught in the Middle

Payors will reduce costs by shifting to more member self-service and to find new ways of leveraging wellness or care management programs with local healthcare delivery networks. Insurers must be faster at designing and selling enhanced or tailored services targeted to unique customer segments in an attempt to demonstrate value to consumers, employers and other purchasers. Consumers are likely to consolidate to gain even more leverage.

Solutions that focus on delivering value to customers will transform the purchase of health insurance. The entire sales channel of sales reps, brokers and agents will be disrupted as consumers purchase more online. Insurance portability will be essential. How to pay for the “aging problem” will provide opportunity, along with early detection and wellness.

How do you see these problems? Got any ideas to share on how to overcome them?


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