Saturday, August 13, 2005

Can Marketing Change How
Healthcare is Delivered?

I think the answer is yes, but not unless marketing forms a new kind of bond with the government and with healthcare providers – not one of building awareness or expanding marketshare. Instead, marketers should become integrally involved in helping healthcare providers change patient behavior.

Isn’t behavior change one of the things we’re supposed to be really good at?

Read any of the current healthcare news and you can tell that patients, especially the elderly, are not practicing good health behavior. As a result, those few who are chronically ill are costing the nation a fortune to care for avoidable problems.

The Federal Government might well be on the right track with its overlooked emphasis on disease management. The new Medicare Act offers new benefits to eligible beneficiaries, including expanded coverage for prescription medicine. A key component of the new regulation is a bold pilot program to lead a shift from the current fee-for-service episodic treatment to a new pay-for-performance business model. This is designed to manage the health of a specified population of Medicare beneficiaries who volunteer to participate in the health management program.

A selected group of providers of disease management solutions were selected based on their ability to cost effectively deliver improved outcomes and patient satisfaction.

My concern is that these providers all came from within the established healthcare industry and cannot see the need for effective marketing programs to reach the elderly and very sick populations. They see the solution as nurses working from call centers and talking with the enrollees about their health. That is a vital part. But it stops short of the kinds of communications needed to cause people to change behavior.

Here’s how I suggest contextual marketing could dramatically change healthcare to the elderly
… and maybe keep the lid on exploding costs that seem to imperil the whole nation:

Close coordination and support of attending physicians to optimize compliance to their recommended regimens for each patient/enrollee.

Close coordination with the beneficiary and with his or her “support team” – family or community members who are in a position to assist the beneficiary.

Integrated processes and best practices that address individual health needs and also deliver personally relevant and understandable communications that inform, entertain, encourage, inspire and motivate behavioral changes that improve compliance.

The design and implementation of assessment tools, clinical monitoring and management systems and communications processes to work across face-to-face, online and traditional communications modalities.

The tracking and reporting to evaluate success and to make continuous improvements.

An underlying technology framework to enable the one-to-one health management and communications processes that can alter target audience behavior, including real-time access to a single view of each beneficiary in the program.

That's where I would put my money ... how about you?

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