Promises of More Patients: Uncertainties of the Affordable Care Act

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It is almost a certainty that patient care volumes will increase after the complete rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Already, health systems are seeing a new level of demand that is burdening systems because of increased volumes. The patients you are currently treating that don’t have health insurance are mandated to enroll in a health insurance product offered either through a Federal or State exchange program.

The most recent figures from the Department of Health show that 7.1 million people are now enrolled in ObamaCare. Of those, more than 26% or 1.8 million people are between the ages of 26 and 34. The thought behind Affordable Care was that more young people would enroll and force the premium cost down through risk sharing. Although the number of young people enrolling has not achieved the levels anticipated it is a very good start and creates an opportunity for health systems and providers.

The Affordable Care Act ensures that health plans in the individual and small group markets offer a comprehensive package of services, known as essential health benefits. Essential health benefits must include services such as: hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; substance abuse disorder treatment; wellness services, emergency care, along with pediatric services that includes oral and vision care.

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Why Your Homepage Doesn’t Matter

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Do you have stakeholders in your organization constantly asking to be featured on your site’s home page? Well, the trick may be on them!

The truth is, users find their way into your website in many different ways. While the homepage may be a popular entry point, if your search engine marketing tactics (search engine optimization, pay-per-click ads, etc.) are working properly, users are finding their way to the exact landing page on your site that can answer their question. They may never see the home page!

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6 Resources Everyone in the Search Marketing Industry Should Be Using

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One question Geonetric hears from clients is, “How do you keep up with all these changes in SEO, PPC, and social media?” Good question!

I shared my reading list with attendees of Geonetric’s 2014 eHealth Client Symposium: Camp Reboot, and thought others may benefit from this list as well. A word of caution: these blogs will turn you into a search marketing geek in no time flat.

So, what do I read in my free time to keep up with Google, Bing and the other cast characters in search and social media? Here’s my current reading list:

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Savvy Healthcare Marketers are Focusing on These Top Digital Trends

healthcare marketing tactics

As a marketer, you have a lot of tactics at your disposal to reach and engage your target audiences. Wish you knew which ones were gaining traction with your peers and competitors? Well, according to Geonetric’s recent Digital Marketing for Healthcare survey, healthcare marketers are picking up email marketing, blogs, Pinterest and content marketing in 2014.

So let’s see why these tactics are topping the digital marketing charts:

  • Consumers want more personalized messaging and email marketing is a great way to send more targeted messages. After languishing in the shadow of social media up-and-comers in recent years, email marketing will be added by an astounding 15% of health systems in 2014.
  • Consumers (and Google!) want fresh content and blogs are a great way to go. Frequent updates, strong SEO and a casual voice makes this format more engaging for health consumers and more sharable to boot!
  • Consumers want sharable content and Pinterest is a great way share stories in a visual way. According to the survey, 48% of hospital respondents currently use Pinterest, with (10%) indicting they plan to have it in the next 6 months.
  • Marketers want measurement and digital channels make it easier to see what’s working – allowing health systems to be more nimble with their marketing.

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Love It or Hate It, 2014 is the Year for Content

Perhaps no item was more contentious in the results from our recent Healthcare Digital Marketing Survey than content. Hospitals love their content or they hate their content or their feelings about their content are… complex. Too much content. Too little content. Their content is too long or too static or frankly spends too much time talking about things that visitors don’t care about.

What survey respondents seem to want is Goldilocks content – not too hard or too soft, too hot or too cold. Content that’s just right.

And they want to find it now, because content is a bigger priority than ever before!

Certainly, this is driven in no small part by changes at Google over the past year. I’m inclined to also believe that healthcare organizations understand that providing useful content is the key to building a valuable relationship with the consumers that they serve.

What’s the Most Valuable Digital Marketing Tool Available to Health Systems Today?

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“Our website – but you must advertise it!” according to one respondent from Geonetric’s recent Healthcare Digital Marketing Survey.

And he isn’t alone. 89% of respondents will use their websites for service line promotion in 2014. While the website serves as the destination, the “build it and they will come” school of digital marketing has gone by the wayside. Digital marketers have realized that a broader set of promotional tools are needed to connect the destination website with consumers.

Permission-based marketing has been the name of the game in recent years with much attention both inside healthcare and across other industries paid to the benefits of social media engagement. Nearly all healthcare organizations are using Facebook (99%), YouTube (94%) and Twitter (86%) in 2014. After languishing in the shadow of social media tools, email marketing is seeing big growth in 2014 as well (up 15% to 82% of organizations)!

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Everybody’s Doin’ It

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Or almost everybody. Overhauling their website, that is.

Yep, virtual cranes are dotting the Internet landscape these days. In our recent research with healthcare organizations about their digital efforts, nearly a quarter completed an online overhaul in 2013 (24%) with more than twice that number either in the process of redesigning or in the planning stages (41% and 19%, respectively).

That’s a lot of construction activity. More importantly, however, is what do health systems hope to accomplish in their redesigns and why are so many of them doing this now?

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Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Digital Marketing In Healthcare, But Were Afraid To Ask!

Survey eBook Cover

I’m very excited to announce our new eBook – Digital Marketing in Healthcare, which outlines the findings from Geonetric’s recent survey of 250 healthcare organizations!

If you are involved in the Web, digital marketing, advertising or social media in healthcare or if you manage or support people who are, this report will provide critical intelligence to help your organization to be more competitive online, such as:

  • What do your competitors spend on digital?
  • How are organizations like yours staffing their digital marketing efforts?
  • What capabilities are healthcare organizations adding to the online mix this year?
  • What digital marketing tools do they find most valuable?
  • Is anyone actually using Vine?

You’ll find these insights and much more right here!

Healthcare Marketing Takeaways from Google’s “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth”

Retail powerhouse Proctor and Gamble figured out a bit of marketing magic. They uncovered the moment that mattered the most to their consumers: when they stood in front of the store shelf and decided what to buy. Proctor and Gamble termed this the First Moment of Truth (FMOT) and they spent a lot of time, energy (and money!) focused on in-store displays.

Google decided to study this process. They wanted to see where influence took place and at what point shoppers moved from undecided to decided. Google uncovered that there is a step before the FMOT – and they named it the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).

ZMOT describes the time when consumers go online and research the product, read reviews and watch product videos – actions that, according to Google, more than 88% of U.S. consumers perform.

It’s easy to picture consumers in their ZMOT – researching which big screen to buy for the big game or which resort to stay at on vacation. Today ZMOT is a powerful force in decision making. Heck, you’d likely feel uncomfortable making a big decision without doing some online research first.

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Clients Still Satisfied? Check.

Client Satisfaction Graph
We did it again! The results of this quarter’s client satisfaction survey (and yes, we do it every three months) shows that our clients continue to value Geonetric as their Web partner. Last quarter, we hit an all-time high overall score of 5.32 on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 6 (highest). This quarter, we maintained that impressive score.

We have a pretty lofty goal for response rate. We need 70% participation, every survey. And you know what? We’ve consistently exceed that goal for more than two years. This time around, 73% of our clients participated in the survey and 92% of those respondents gave us a 5.0 or higher overall score!

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Geonetric’s Top Five Webinars, Blog Posts, and Tweets of 2013

Happy 2014 From Geonetric

Before looking ahead sometimes it’s important to learn from the past. Taking a look at the popular topics from webinars, blog posts and tweets from the past year provides a snap shot at past trends. Content marketing, social media and search engine optimization continue to be hot topics for healthcare marketers. Geonetric will be here throughout 2014 to keep you informed through our GeoVoices blog, free monthly webinarseHealth Spotlight eNewsletter, eHealth articleswhite papers, eBooks and on Twitter.

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5 Social Media Trends that Will Change How Healthcare Marketers Approach Strategy in 2014

5 Social Media Trends for Healthcare Marketers

Ninety-three percent of marketers will be maintaining or increasing how much they are spending on social media advertising in 2014, according to a new report from eMarketer. But where should healthcare marketers be focusing their attentions to get the most bang for their buck, not to mention their valuable time?

Social media strategy in 2014 will shift focus away from increasing the number of likes/followers your brand has to engaging your target audience through organic interactions. Marketers will need to adapt quickly across many social media channels in order to incorporate micro-video, image-centric content and native advertising into the mix. And finally, if you haven’t built out your brand’s Google+ profile yet you are already behind.

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What Can Food Network Teach Healthcare Marketers About Branding?

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Over the course of 15 years, Food Network has gone from a niche boutique channel to a mainstream entertainment network. As healthcare marketers, we are facing a similar transition. Where once our organizations were focused on the niche business of treating the sick and injured, we’re now playing a larger role in the lives of our patients – we work with our communities to create healthier environments, we work proactively with our patients to keep them well, and we help them manage their conditions and support their recovery after they’ve gone home.

In an interview with Food Network’s Alton Brown, two network heavyweights, Bob Tuschman, senior vice president programming and general manager and Susie Fogelson, vice president of marketing, had a candid conversation about the internal workings of this evolution.

What can the experience of this entertainment network teach us about the path that we see ahead?

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How Does Your Website Stack Up?

surveyblogIs your hospital website ahead of your peers or are you falling behind? Are you understaffed and underbudgeted? Are your competitors push into digital marketing leaving you in the dust?

The one question I hear most often from healthcare Web professionals is “How are we doing compared to everyone else”?
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How Do We Get Beyond Our Malkovich Biases?

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The most common place where technological solutions go wrong is that they’re built for the person building them and not for the person who will be using them.

Where teams fail is not that they don’t intend for the solution to work for the target audience but rather an inability to recognize they are not a member of that target audience. This is not as obvious as you might think. If you’re building a website for cancer patients, the challenge is not that you believe yourself to be a cancer patient. Rather, the gap is in realizing an actual cancer patient is going to use the tool differently than you will.

This phenomenon has a name – The Malkovich Bias: The tendency to believe that everyone uses technology the same way that you do.

The name was first shared by Andres Glusman of Meetup.com in his blog and has, apparently, worked its way quickly into the psyche of the user experience (UX) community (you can listen to Glusman talking about the concept and UX testing in this video). The concept refers to the movie Being John Malkovich. At some point in the film, just about every character gets the opportunity to be Malkovich, but even given the same tool, they use Malkovich in entirely different ways.

We see the same thing in technology. For example, I use Twitter for content curation and to engage with others at tradeshows and conferences. I’ve been on long enough to know that others use it to crowd source their breakfast menu or as a form of very public group chat. I couldn’t imagine using it that way. Likewise, following 2,000+ people, I couldn’t imagine using the original SMS-based interface, but there are many users without SmartPhones or regular Internet access for whom Twitter is a text message-based solution today. They use these tools very differently from the way I do. Point is, if I’m planning to reach them with Twitter, the way that I use the tool doesn’t really matter.

So how do we get beyond our Malkovich biases?

  • Realize that the bias is there: First and foremost, we need to actively question our assumptions when working on a project. If you work in healthcare and spend a lot of time online there are many things that you could throw at a user which won’t make any sense to them at all.
  • NIHITO: For those of you not familiar with Lean improvement strategies, NIHITO stands for Nothing Interesting Happens In The Office. In other words, get out and spend some time with your customers/end users. And not just once, but regularly.
  • The only thing that matters is what actual users actually do: You look at a piece of technology and know exactly how it works and how you use it. You can even run tests in a usability lab to get an outside perspective. Sometimes even the best designed products can be misunderstood.
  • Iterate on innovation: We all try to check things off our to-do list and call them done. Real innovation requires risk taking, experimentation, measurement and adjustment.

Where have you found your Malkovich biases? How do you overcome them? Share your thoughts in the comments below!