Some years ago, during a seminar that I was giving to a group of senior hospital marketing executives, I was approached by a Marketing Vice President for a hospital in New England. She told me that her life’s goal was to have her department viewed as a profit center for the hospital rather than a cost center. She was attending the seminar because she believed that the Internet was going to be the way to get there.
There isn’t anything magical about being a profit center that she was seeking. Rather, it was the way that her department was viewed within her hospital that she wanted changed. Her organization viewed marketing as the proverbial red-headed step child – begrudgingly accepted as a part of the organization, but not as a full member of the family.
Sound familiar to anyone?
What she was looking for was greater respect for the work that marketing delivered and the contributions that it was making. She wanted input on the strategic direction for the organization. She wanted to be involved in business planning when it was still planning rather than being handed some small piece and being told to make miracles happen. She wanted a seat at the table, plain and simple.
There is no better time than now for marketing/communications and ehealth departments to make this transition. And here’s why.
Healthcare in the United States is entering the most significant state of transition that we’ve seen in a generation. Fundamentally, the healthcare system that we have today is failing. The U.S. spends more per capita than any other nation in the world and the growth of costs is both fantastic and unsustainable.
Despite this investment, the quality and performance of the system as a whole is mediocre, falling somewhere between Costa Rica and Slovenia according to the World Health Organization.
It is this cost component that has pushed fundamental overhaul of the healthcare system onto the national agenda over the past several years. From the HITECH provisions of ARRA (the economic stimulus bill), new care delivery models and business models such as Patient-Centered Medical Home, and the healthcare/health insurance reform currently working its way through Congress, healthcare change is underway.
One of the fundamental components of nearly every piece of the re-engineering of healthcare being considered is a new, elevated, and more engaged role for patients and health consumers. This is not solely a matter of creating clinical interactions online (although that’s an exciting goal), but extends to creating meaningful experiences online.
Imagine the opportunities that emerge here. Knowing even a little information about a health consumer opens the opportunity to create personalized experiences across a wide range of online areas. Recently diagnosed? Here is information about the condition, classes, services, and specialists. Have a question? Let’s get you connected to the resources that you need. It’s your role as the marketer or Web manager to look at this in the broader context. Unfortunately, as we talk to marketing and Web professionals, they’re waiting for everything to get finalized and delivered. This is where the problem arises.
There is too much being required by ARRA to achieve Meaningful Use for your organization to wait until the definition is finalized to begin with implementation. Discussions on how to get there are already underway if your organization has any hope of making the 2011 timeline. Decisions are being made. Contracts are in the works. Do you think that anyone involved is thinking about the possibilities here? If not, what sort of solution are you about to get handed?
In other words, if you don’t get involved now, you’re going to miss your window of opportunity all together.