I’ve spent a lot of time recently pondering the role of marketers in a post-reform healthcare system. Healthcare is undergoing an incredible period of change. While we’re still unclear on the specifics of how things will play out, the failures of the current system that we hope to correct are well established:
- Costs are growing out of control.
- No accountability for the costs of delivering care.
- No accountability for quality or outcomes.
- The results that we get from the current investment is mediocre.
- A lack of consistent, evidence-based, data-driven decision making.
- Lots of waste resulting from a lack of coordination.
As marketers look to understand how we’ll adapt to reform, there’s no shortage of ideas. Some suggest that marketing will go away. Others predict that the goals of marketing will simply change. Instead of driving usage of expensive services such as cardiology and oncology, marketers would focus on driving volume to preventive and early detection services that would reduce or eliminate the overall costs of treatment. Still others suggest that, despite the changes, marketers will do pretty much of what they do today, only targeting that slice of the patient population with high-paying private insurance.
What I don’t hear is any discussion about changing how marketing gets done.
The healthcare industry is being asked (or told) to change the way that it does everything. The models of care delivery are changing, as are the payment and delivery structures.
It’s very presumptive to think that marketing will continue to work as it always has, with only a few small tweaks to what it is we’re marketing or who we’re marketing it to.
Look back at the list of issues faced by the healthcare industry. That list could just as easily have been applied to healthcare marketing:
- We cost too much.
- Our results are often intangible and take too long to deliver value.
- We have no accountability to prove what tactics are working . . . and, in the absence of that data, we continue to put our resources behind strategies and channels that don’t produce results.
- We aren’t coordinating our efforts in a way that have the maximum impact on the health consumers that we need to reach.
Certainly, this requires bold adoption of new marketing tools, both tools for reaching consumers and tools for measuring the results of our efforts.
More importantly, it’s going to require marketers to be better, faster and stronger. We’ll need to deliver more value, more quickly, for a lower investment.
It’s a bold challenge that lies ahead. Our organizations are setting up new foundations to enable the changes that they’ll go through in the coming years. Is your marketing department ready?