Designer Babies

May 7, 2013 by

As I dive into the research phase of marketing, differentiation is at the very heart of the discovery process.

The concept of differentiation brings back fond memories of college Biology. Stem cell research was a hot topic then and continues to fuel heated conversation on both sides of the debate.

DesignerBaby http://news.msn.com/science-technology/2-year-old-girl-gets-new-life-with-windpipe-made-from-stem-cells

The ‘con’ side fears stem cell research will lead to a society of “designer babies”. The ‘pro’ side views it as scientific research that will lead to a better understanding of cell function. Whichever side you gravitate to, what can’t be debated is the fact that stem cells are programmed to differentiate. They become very specific, specialized units. These units adapt to a form and function that distinguishes them from all others.

This formula for success holds true in the marketing efforts of your organization. Ask yourself………

Differentiation     What does your organization do well on a daily basis? How do these practices set you apart?

Segmentation        Are you able to clearly identify all possible market segments?

Specification          Is your campaign specific to your audience?

Specialization       In what areas does your organization specialize? Do your areas of expertise allow you to adapt to the ever-changing social marketplace?

The success of any marketing effort lies in your ability to identify those characteristics that distinguish you from all others. This seemingly small act of due diligence is certain to guide you to a “designer baby” of your very own!

A Prescription for Hospital Gym Marketing

September 13, 2012 by

Prescription for ExerciseAs the focus on preventive medicine has increased, many hospitals have incorporated gyms and wellness centers in their list of services. After building the gym the question becomes how to get and keep a vibrant membership.

In addition to traditional marketing for your hospital’s gym, you also can look inward and enlist your physicians, since they are the front line for patient wellness. A recent CDC study shows physicians are advising a much greater percentage of their patients to exercise than they were 10 years ago.

A Healthy Prescription

The hospital’s gym can offer a healthy prescription plan for physicians to give their patients. This can be a coupon card, much like a pharmaceutical discount coupon, With an offer on one side that might include a discounted or free two-month membership and an initial consult with a trainer to review physician recommendations. The back of the card has room for the physician to write a start level and goals for the patient’s exercise regimen.

The physician can recommend exercise or write their patient a prescription for it. Telling someone they need to exercise is good, but an actual prescription may have more impact in emphasizing the importance of exercise for better health.

Of course the patient is given the recommendation or prescription for exercise, not the gym. They can exercise in their house or the park, but the coupon card is given along with the prescription as an added incentive. This can be beneficial for all parties. The physician gains another tool to help improve his patients’ health. The patient gets more detailed exercise information and a discount to a gym. The hospital gains good will for providing the gym discount and possibly acquires new long-term members.

How You Can Bring Visual Value to Your Hospital’s Videos.

August 21, 2012 by

Hospital Video ProductionWe all know the saying “a picture says a thousands words.” This may be one reason that YouTube is one of the largest search engines. According to a Manhattan Research study, 30% of the US adults who search the Internet for health information watch health related videos.

People are very visual and constantly make judgments based on visual cues. A great example is food. Think of the cafeteria line compared to the beautifully presented plate of food at a fine restaurant. If our food looks good, it must taste good. That is why presentation is such a large part of the fine dining experience.

Visual quality is a basic but an important point to remember when creating a medical practice or hospital video. To the viewer good quality represents competence. On the other hand, if the video is amateurish, the viewer may wonder if your medical care is going to be sub-par.

It is all about presentation (and content)

1. Quality – You pride yourself in the quality of your patient care, so let that come through in your video. People will recognize low production value. This is not to say that you need to spend oodles of money, but you do need to be aware of lighting, picture quality, backgrounds, and editing style.

2. On-air personality – Yes, personality is the key here. If you are using staff or a physician, employ people who have engaging speaking styles. This may not always be possible, so be prepared to coach them.

They need to talk to the camera as they would a patient and let a good bedside manner shine through.

3. Wardrobe and Makeup – So this is starting to seem more like a major production than you thought. Be sure the talent is wearing clean, pressed clothing and their hair is neat. This seems obvious, but doesn’t always happen. Physicians are thinking about their clinical obligations and patients. Having freshly dry-cleaned clothes often is not top of mind. Just be prepared with extra coats, an iron, comb, and powder.

When making your medical video, think of creating a meal at a fine restaurant. Plan then prep, prep, prep. Finally, craft your story for patient friendly presentation.

Increase Hospital Reimbursements by Marketing to Reduce Costs

August 14, 2012 by

Medication ComplianceWith the shift of reimbursement payment practices, hospitals are looking at all options and best practices to improve quality care and reduce costs.

As marketers we can help increase revenue, but can we also help cut costs and improve care?  Sure we can. Many hospitals have already done this with hand washing campaigns that resulted in significant increases in compliance and reductions in infection rates.

 Another costly compliance issue involves patients and their prescription medication. I knew that medication compliance was a significant problem, but did not realize just how much until I saw the following numbers. A CVS Caremark study determined that medication adherence saved the healthcare system $1,200 – $8,000 per patient annually.  Unfortunately nearly 40% of insured people DON’T take their medication as prescribed.

Improving medication compliance won’t be easy and will probably require action from many public and private entities.  It does seem that hospital owned physician practices and hospitals could have a significant impact on this problem by providing educational materials, tools, and campaigns to their patients. A recent Health Research Institute study said that 57% of patients place a high value on education they receive during a visit . So they are primed for medical information, all you need to do is give it to them.  It may help them stay healthier, improve satisfaction levels and reduce readmissions.

Are you marketing medication adherence or other healthcare cost savings initiatives?  If so, I would love to hear about what you are doing.

 

How to make your hospital’s Facebook page the life of the party.

August 1, 2012 by

Facebook PartyFacebook, which is all about friends and their lives, is the epitome of social media. So think of running your hospital’s Facebook page as hosting a party for your friends. Invite people to join you and welcome newcomers. Strive to be a good host. Be a good conversationalist and never talk only about yourself. Go out of your way to provide refreshments and entertainment that will please the guests. Above all, be gracious and thankful to people who attend.

Know your guests and their likes and dislikes.

  • Pay attention to health and wellness topics that garner the most attention and comments. What topics flop? In the future weight your posts to the more popular topics. Think of your Facebook page as “Pandora” for healthcare in your community.

Cater to your friends. 

  • Share important community stories on your page.
  • Post important health information and observances.
  • Include information on events, new services or treatments you offer, staff recognition and other relevant information. Think of it as small talk. Try to present it in a way that invites conversation.

Be entertaining. 

  • Provide pictures and videos to supplement your post. A good visual can add spark to any topic. A physician explaining a disease or procedure on a video is a great way to educate people in a personable way.
  • Don’t drone on. Make your point short and sweet and when appropriate ask for feedback.
  • Party games can be fun, so use health quizzes and contests to interact with your audience.

Make it worth their time. 

  • Educate in a fun way. Be sure to provide helpful information – facts, event information, a good patient story, informative videos, recipes or helpful tips.

And in the end, thank people for coming.

  • Be sure to acknowledge your fans and the comments they make.

Follow these simple steps to be the host-ess with the most-est and watch your hospital’s Facebook likes and fan base grow.

Forget Strategy?

July 24, 2012 by

Recently, Advertising Age quoted the CEO of the global advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, as saying, “Strategy is dead… If you take the time to devise a strategy, the more time you are giving your rivals to start eating your lunch.”

Is he serious?  I fully realize we now live in a very fast-paced world and hesitation can be costly, but forget the strategy?  How do you get the tactics right without a strategy?  The fact is good strategic planning leads to better execution.

We’ve also found that the tighter the strategy, the better the creative product.  It certainly makes it easier to create good ideas.  With even a loose strategy, creativity becomes far more difficult.  With no strategy, it’s almost impossible.  

Lack of strategy usually leads to poor management of resources as well.  Tactics do not replace strategy; they follow it.  Today’s new media enables carefully targeted rifle shots.  Why would you want to use a shotgun?

Educating Patients is a Primary Need for Better Healthcare Access

June 27, 2012 by

We are all waiting to hear the Supreme Court’s decision on the health reform law (Affordable Care Act) this week. According to a recent Times article, “If it survives, about 93 percent of all non-elderly, legal U.S. residents will be covered by 2016. That’s up from 82 percent this year.” This translates to an additional 30 million people who will receive health insurance coverage.

Regardless of the outcome of the Affordable Care Act, there is a strong need to educate consumers on how to access and use the healthcare system. Research points out that recent changes in health insurance status for newly insured and newly uninsured adults are linked to greater emergency department use – not community health centers, family physicians or urgent care centers. An emergency department is truly one of the most inefficient options for people to use for non-emergent care. Providing health care in this forum ties up resources that can be better used, costs substantially more than care delivered in a lower acuity setting, and typically has much longer waiting times than other healthcare options.

Many Emergency Departments are now triaging patients as they enter the door. Some direct patients to other alternatives (at a lower co-pay) and some are using nurses to handle non-emergent problems. Signage and patient handouts can explain the reasons and the importance for doing this. Online videos are another option that many hospitals are using to explain where to properly seek care.

Once newly insured patients are aware of accessing other levels of care, an answer according to Robin Clarke, University of California, Los Angeles, may be the use of enabling services. These are non-medical services, typically delivered by primary care practices and community health centers, to help low-income patients access the healthcare system. These services address the social determinants of health care by helping patients figure out transportation to appointments, conducting case management assessments and performing community outreach and education activities.

Current research is being done to investigate how these patient-centered services will affect the delivery of health care to underserved patients. The results will affect not only the implementation, but also reimbursement. It will also impact how the patient-centered medical home concept will apply to the practices caring for these patients.

There are many other points of access to educate consumers. But, we need to make it a priority to do so.

This reminds me of the saying, “If we build it, they will come.” Unless we focus on education, they may come but never figure out how to use it.

What do hawks, birthing services and hospitals have in common?

June 8, 2012 by

Working primarily with hospitals, I read a lot of articles about controlling preventable errors. But, I recently found out that sometimes they just can’t be prevented – even for a healthcare advertising agency .

Our outdoor representative recently informed us that a vinyl we thought had been taken down for a hospital outdoor board was still up and that he had a really good excuse, one we hadn’t encountered before. Of course, I’m rolling my eyes and thinking “Right!”

Well, he was right. Here’s the story.

The installer for the outdoor company had started the process of taking the vinyl down when he noticed a nest being built.  A hawk had decided that the space in between the two outdoor boards was a fine place to build its nest. As you may know, it is a federal offense to harm a hawk or its eggs. And, the hawk kept attacking the installer to get him away from its nest. Suffice it to say, the outdoor company left the nest alone and the eggs hatched about two weeks later and, according to some research, it will be about ten more weeks before they leave the nest.

Although, I am still shaking my head and laughing, I do find it very fitting that the creative for the outdoor board was focused on birthing services at the hospital.

Image

“L” Stands for loser.

February 10, 2012 by

Another Super Bowl is in the books. Over hyped? Yes! Bad halftime show? Yes! But the game was great and Super Bowl Sunday has become a holiday so why not enjoy.

Now it’s time to prepare for next season. The NFL players are resting, getting needed surgery and getting prepared for mini camps. Just like the players, the NFL is already working on future Super Bowls. And that’s a good thing because the NFL has a little problem with Super Bowl 50. Ever since the first Super Bowl, the league has numbered them using Roman numerals. That would make Super Bowl 50, Super Bowl “L”. “L” stands for loser. This creates a heck of a problem to solve. The league has managed it’s way through and around  Super Bowl IV in 1970 and Super Bowl XXX in 1996. But having a giant “L” with a sponsor’s logo like, say, Nike’s swoosh right above it could be a little awkward. Not to mention being awkward for the host city.

SO. Just like players trying to get stronger and faster, a crack team of designers and sharp thinkers are squirreled away trying to solve this big problem for a big client. Maybe they will take this opportunity to convert the Super Bowl to Arabic numerals. After all 50 is a huge mile stone. They didn’t think there would be ten Super Bowls let alone fifty. Maybe they’ll have the “L” stand for something other than “Loser” or find a way to hide it in the design. Who knows. But what a fun challenge that would be.

I have a lot of great ideas. I’ll just sit back a wait for the NFL to call.

How Website Content Almost Stole Christmas

December 14, 2011 by

Recently I put on my elf hat and did a little online shopping to help Santa. I was looking for one item, a programmable robot from a large toy company. I thought this would be a quick transaction but after an hour or so I felt more like the Grinch than a happy little elf.

I wanted to be sure the robot was compatible with my computer and that it would work Christmas morning. The toy description said “Easy-to-use software (PC and Mac).” That was it. It did not answer the question – what operating system?

Then the real work began. In search of the answer I went through the support section labyrinth where I got mired down in very technical verbiage using programming specific terminology. Somewhere along the way they seem to have forgotten that parents and not computer engineers were the target market.

It is so easy to fall into “industry-speak” especially when you are engrossed in that business everyday. It is also easy to skim over or omit information because it seems so basic, but for a layman is important. Whether the business is toys, garden supplies or healthcare we should always step back and evaluate what we are saying and how we are presenting the content to our target audience. Are we really talking to them or are we talking to ourselves and peers to some degree. Are we making it easier or harder for them?

If there had been any other item on my son’s list, I would have abandoned the painful robot search. The robot will be waiting Christmas morning and it had better work.


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