In the present day, consumers want more convenience than ever before in their scheduling, visits, and post-visit payment options. Healthcare companies have to also become technology companies to thrive during, and after, COVID-19. In episode 467, Dave Mastovich talks about how healthcare marketing leaders can capitalize on the transition consumers have made to digital medicine and virtual visits.
It’s the No Bullshit Marketing Show. I’m Dave Mastovich, CEO and founder of MASSolutions, the world’s only No Bullshit Marketing consultants.
Today, I want to talk to you about how to capitalize on the consumerization of healthcare. What COVID-19 did to the healthcare industry is shut down access to in-person visits for nonurgent conditions. Telehealth went from being barely used, often unfamiliar, to becoming something that people realize, “Whoa, this works. I don’t need to travel to my doctor’s office for everything.” And the doctors were like, “Whoa, I can actually get paid to do this, much easier, on Zoom or on screen.”
So providers saw it as a way to get another income stream. And patients, we consumers, saw it as a way to get what we wanted when we want it more quickly. So, consumers have embraced care outside of the traditional medical office during the pandemic. I’m going to read you some stats on this. According to the PwC Health Research Institute Clinician Survey of April 2021, 77% of clinicians reported “New nontraditional care venues provided acceptable patient outcomes.” This included retail venues, concierge medicine, the old school house call, and ever popular and convenient telehealth. 77% of clinicians were seeing opportunities more convenient for their patients, but more convenient for them and new revenue streams.
And the emergency department is finally becoming what it should be. It’s a place for last resort instead of going to the emergency room for a low acuity visit, or the sniffles, so to speak. And that’s not going to return to pre-pandemic level. So, having a hospital background and a health system background, I know that the ER was often used so much for non-acute reasons and non-serious reasons that we did all these things for decades to try to reduce that and change that and here, COVID-19 has finally brought the shift to where emergency rooms are being used for emergencies. Imagine that.
So when a crisis happens, what I’ve learned throughout my life is that when a crisis happens, you do everything you can to get through that healthy and alive. And if you’re in a business, to keep your business sustained, but you also can maximize opportunities from that crisis. And the consumerization of healthcare through telehealth and other means has become acceptable and enjoyable and convenient because of the crisis of COVID-19.
We now look at gaining access to care in a more convenient fashion. What this means for you as a healthcare marketer, a medical marketer, if you’re marketing a physician practice, physical therapy, occupational therapy, wound care, a Medicare Advantage Plan, a healthcare system, the consumerization of healthcare gives you an opportunity. And it drives a lower cost trend, so the increase in the medical costs have gone down. The increases are smaller, because we’re able to get more care for less through this telehealth and other things.
What does it mean to you? Well, the first is your patients aren’t patient. How many of us are patient when we’re buying something? When we’re standing in line and waiting, we’re looking at how long it took. I don’t know too many people that are patient. So patients lack patience. Patients lack patience. You have to play that to your advantage and say, “I’m going to tell the story of how technology has made it easier for us to do things like scheduling the patient.” You’re going to tell the story about how you have ways to get the information to and from the patient easier, to get them scheduled more quickly, to give them more convenience because patients aren’t patient. Patients lack patience. So you want to prove that you can have convenience and speed.
And that means the second thing is that healthcare companies, and you as a healthcare marketer, and you’re a healthcare marketer if you’re the owner of a seven person physical therapy office, or you’re one of the five physicians who own a physician practice, you’re a healthcare marketer. And healthcare marketers and healthcare teams, healthcare organizations, need to realize that they are also technology companies. Healthcare companies have to realize they’re also technology companies. You have to have a technology story about how you provide the care in a convenient fashion, about how scheduling and billing and healthcare coverage and insurance coverage can be done in a quick, technological way. There are now over 50,000 health apps. Over 50,000 health apps, because we, the consumer, realize that it’s quick and easy for us to try an app, see if we like it, and if we like it to continue to use it. So healthcare companies have to be technology companies. So many of my clients over the last three years, talk about the upgrades they’ve made with software and apps, yet they aren’t maximizing them. And the patients don’t know how to use them, or the patients see them as clunky, inefficient.
It’s because the story hasn’t been crafted to explain that we’re a healthcare company, we’re also a technology company, and we’re now doing these things that make it quicker and easier for you to do what you need and get what you need, and explain how to use it. And if it’s difficult to use, you’ve got to blow it up and get something else.
I’ve seen client after client after client have challenges related to something they subscribe to, a service they subscribe to, that was more complicated, or didn’t meet their needs, and they had to spend more and more in tailoring it. Then they finally get it to where they think it’s good and people aren’t using it. Their patients aren’t using it. Their customer base isn’t using it. Well, the story has to be told, as visually as possible, to show patients what they’re missing and how to use it. That’s part of the consumerization of healthcare.
So if you have telehealth, and if you’re doing digital more, you need to promote that, and tell that story in a way that’s memorable. And that story has to be told visually and through multiple channels, because you’re trying to reach anyone from a 15 year old to a 50 year old to a 75 year old along the way.
If you’re in senior living, you’re reaching an adult child and the actual resident. If you’re in a physician practice, you might have referral source marketing because other physicians refer to you. You have to show and tell and explain and bring value to your technology, as a technology company, that’s also a healthcare company. You need to be able to capitalize on it. And you also need to use B to E with your employees, business to employees storytelling. You need to give those employees the technology they need and the flexibility they need, because now virtual is a big piece of healthcare work. It’s much more challenging to have virtual healthcare employees than it is to have non-virtual healthcare employees, because the nature of healthcare is such a personal thing.
So COVID-19, the crisis, led to some opportunity, led to some innovation, and it has led to the consumerization of healthcare. And I’m telling you today that you, as a healthcare company, need to leverage that consumerization of healthcare. And you need to realize that your patients lack patience. So you need to make things quick and easy for them. You have to realize you’re a technology company and a healthcare company, and you need to tell the story about the technology and what’s in it for the customers and make damn sure that, that technology works and is easy, because if it isn’t easy for the user, they’re not going to use one of those 50,000 apps. And if you haven’t explained the value of what’s in it for them, they’re going to ignore it. You can leverage this consumerization of healthcare. You can turn this crisis into opportunities to help your patients more, and help you grow your practice or your healthcare business.