The healthcare industry is undergoing radical and disruptive change, creating unique opportunities for healthcare organizations to “think differently” and establish market positions through innovative new approaches. There has never been a more critical time to lead with a clear and distinctive strategy, and by doing so, dominate in market.
Developing a market strategy requires a full evaluation of market opportunities, as well as operational conditions that must be present to fulfill the strategy. It spurs necessary critical thinking about the future, and requires us to ask questions and challenge assumptions about the organization, as well as the competition and scenarios for the future.
A marketing strategy defines what is possible and gives the roadmap for achieving it.
Think about healthcare transformation. It’s not just the industry that is changing – consumers are transforming as well. Today’s patients are becoming more active consumers of care; they are now more price-sensitive and apt to shop around for the best value. With a dizzying array of options available, patient loyalty is being challenged in ways not experienced before. Moving patients along the traditional continuum of care, once a given, now has hospitals and physicians seeking new ways to attract and retain patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
Another factor at play is consumer demand for services to help them stay healthy. Increasingly, these are being offered by non-medical entities. Payers, businesses and community organizations—in addition to health systems and providers—are collaborating to provide services that promote healthy lifestyles. The idea is to prevent illness and injury, rather than simply being available to treat those who are sick or injured. This concept of “lifecare” represents a significant shift from the conventional (and increasingly outmoded) healthcare model.
As the possibilities mount for various approaches to healthcare transformation, has your marketing team formed a strategy to guide your organization in positioning for the future?
Strategy as a Differentiator
Organizations that respond to transformation by adopting smart, strategic approaches to marketing now have the ability to position themselves as market leaders. In a stark departure from familiar methods of attracting and retaining patients, providers now can demonstrate their value and commitment to the everyday health and wellness of consumers, increasing the likelihood of being the top choice when healthcare—and lifecare—is needed. They can build trust and loyalty through physician relations programs, and they can create community advocates by engaging physicians and staff in delivering on the brand promise.
Healthcare marketing professionals understand that leading in today’s world requires more than a clever slogan or catchy advertisement. While creative execution is important, it is critical thinking and a deliberate strategic approach that will define the competitive edge and deliver results. To lead and excel requires a keen understanding of market position and competition. It requires a deep dive into data and market trends, as well as a compelling point of differentiation. And it requires a fundamental understanding of who you are, what you stand for, and why you stand for it. With consumers now seeking services that help them stay healthy, it is imperative to engage people in ways that historically have not been a part of most healthcare organizations’ marketing plans.
Long-held assumptions about how the industry works are now being challenged. With products, services and platforms becoming increasingly similar in their offerings, strategy becomes the competitive advantage. Those who pursue a strategic approach to marketing will stand out among the competition by creating new levels of value…for consumers as well as themselves.
About the Authors
Julie Amor, Chief Strategy Officer for Dobies Health Marketing, brings more than 20 years of experience elevating healthcare brands to our firm and our clients. Julie co-authored this article with Carol Dobies, CEO and Founder of Dobies Health Marketing, who has been bringing healthcare brands to life for 25 years.