Gaining The Upper Hand In The New Healthcare Marketing Landscape

Corey Quinn is the CMO at Scorpion, an internet marketing company with offices located across the U.S.

Patient behaviors and expectations are changing rapidly — and as a result, so is the world of healthcare marketing.

With the rise of urgent care centers, retail clinics and telemedicine in recent years, consumers now have access to a more diverse array of healthcare options. They are also more involved with their care decisions due to higher health insurance premiums and co-pays. Furthermore, they have grown accustomed to finding answers to their healthcare-related questions in a matter of moments thanks to the internet.

https://d-33668301202314900860.ampproject.net/1508794187431/frame.html

Unfortunately, there are still many healthcare organizations that have failed to adapt. Is yours one of them? If so, this has placed you at a significant disadvantage in your industry, which is only becoming increasingly competitive. Today, healthcare providers need to stay 10 steps ahead with healthcare marketing strategies or risk becoming irrelevant — or at least less visible — to prospective patients.

Let’s explore three key strategies your organization can implement to gain the upper hand in the new healthcare marketing landscape.

1. Be present where the attention is: online.

There’s no doubt about it — attention has shifted to the internet. Consider the fact that 88% of U.S. adults use the internet today, compared to just 52% in 2000, according to data from Pew Research Center. And this trend isn’t limited to younger generations: Americans age 65 and older have been identified as the demographic with the fastest internet usage adoption rate since 2000.

Prospective patients are now more inclined to use the internet to look up information related to their healthcare. Google reported that one in every 20 Google searches are for health-related information, and a Pew Research Center survey found that 62% of smartphone owners have looked up health information on their phones within the past year.

https://d-33668301202314900860.ampproject.net/1508794187431/frame.html

With the upswing in popularity of mobile devices, accessing the internet has become easier than ever — making it inevitable that patients will continue to rely more heavily on digital media.

The best way for healthcare organizations to reach their ideal audiences and increase brand awareness is to go where patients are already dedicating their attention. They need to invest in more online marketing efforts and claim a presence across various digital channels, from their websites to search engines to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

2. Think about the patient’s online experience.

Remember, online user experience matters — just like patient satisfaction matters in the treatment room. In many cases, prospective patients will research your healthcare services and facilities online before scheduling an appointment. If their first experience interacting with your organization is a negative one (even if it’s online), they may be left with a poor impression and choose another provider.

Here are a few questions to consider:

Does my website have a modern and mobile-friendly design?

https://d-33668301202314900860.ampproject.net/1508794187431/frame.html

Is it easy and intuitive to navigate?

Does it immediately answer the visitor’s most important questions?

Are my social media posts and ads relevant to my target audience?

Are my posts and ads actually driving engagement?

Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

Healthcare’s Dangerous Fee-For-Service Addiction

Healthcare's Dangerous Fee-Fo

For its many users, healthcare’s fee-for-service reimbursement methodology is like an addiction, similar to gambling, cigarette smoking and pain pill abuse. Doctors and hospitals in the clutches of this flawed payment model have grown dependent on providing more and more healthcare services, regardless of whether the additional care adds value.

I don’t use this metaphor lightly, nor wish to trivialize our nation’s growing problem with addiction. Rather, as a physician and former healthcare CEO, I am increasingly concerned with the impact this payment structure is having on American health. And I worry about whether providers are willing to “kick the habit” before it’s too late.

Addictive Qualities

The Affordable Care Act, signed into law March 2010, included several provisions encouraging doctors to focus on increasing value (instead of simply maximizing the volume) of healthcare services. And yet, seven years later, between 86% and 95% of U.S. healthcare providers are still paid for each individual test, procedure and treatment they provide, an arrangement that continues to drive up healthcare costs with little to show for it. According to the latest Commonwealth Fund report, the United States spends more on healthcare than any other industrialized country but ranks at or near the bottom in almost every measure of comparative quality.

As with any addiction, America’s dependence on fee-for-service has dire financial and health consequences. This year, the estimated cost of care for an insured family of four will reach nearly $27,000, paid for through a combination of employer health insurance ($15,259), payroll deductions ($7,151) and out-of-pocket expenses at the point of care ($4,534). Year over year, patients are on the hook for a higher percentage of their total healthcare costs, which rose 4.3% compared to just a 1.9% increase in the U.S. GDP last year. This is a major warning sign. If medical costs continue to surge 2% to 3% higher than our nation’s ability to pay, the healthcare system will soon reach a breaking point. Businesses, the government and insurers will have no choice but to ration care or slowly eliminate coverage for the nation’s poor, middle-class and elderly populations.

As with all addictions, the fee-for-service model has mind-altering effects, distorting the perceptions of its users in ways that make them unaware of their growing dependence. When providers are paid for doing more, that’s what they do: They increase utilization of services and ratchet up the cost of care without even realizing they’re part of the problem. According to one study, just 36% of practicing physicians were willing to accept “major” responsibility for reducing healthcare costs. Of course, the first step, as with other habits, is to recognize the problem. Only then can we explore treatment options.

 

Read More: http://snip.ly/hlh5h#https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertpearl/2017/09/25/fee-for-service-addiction/&refURL=&referrer=

Immune cells may heal bleeding brain after strokes

IMAGE

Credit: Courtesy of Aronowski lab, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston.

While immune cells called neutrophils are known to act as infantry in the body’s war on germs, a National Institutes of Health-funded study suggests they can act as medics as well. By studying rodents, researchers showed that instead of attacking germs, some neutrophils may help heal the brain after an intracerebral hemorrhage, a form of stroke caused by ruptured blood vessels. The study suggests that two neutrophil-related proteins may play critical roles in protecting the brain from stroke-induced damage and could be used as treatments for intracerebral hemorrhage.

“Intracerebral hemorrhage is a damaging and often fatal form of stroke for which there are no effective medicines,” said Jaroslaw Aronowski, M.D., Ph.D., professor, department of neurology, at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and senior author of the study published in Nature Communications. “Our results are a hopeful first step towards developing a treatment for this devastating form of stroke.”

Accounting for 10 to 15 percent of all strokes, intracerebral hemorrhages happen when blood vessels rupture and leak blood into the brain, often leading to death or long-term disability. Chronic high blood pressure is the leading risk factor for these types of strokes. The initial phase of damage appears to be caused by the pressure of blood leaking into the brain. Over time, further damage may be caused by the accumulation of toxic levels of blood products, infiltrating immune cells, and swelling.

 

Decades of research suggest that neutrophils are some of the earliest immune cells to respond to a hemorrhage, and that they may both harm and heal the brain. In this study, the researchers found that interleukin-27 (IL-27), a protein that controls the activity of immune cells, may shift the role of neutrophils from harming the brain to helping with recovery.

Injections of IL-27 after a hemorrhage helped mice recover. Days after the strokes, the treated mice had better mobility, including walking, limb stretching and navigating holes in a floor. In contrast, injections of an antibody that blocked natural IL-27 activity slowed recovery. The brains of the mice treated with IL-27 also showed less damage. They had less swelling around the hemorrhages and lower levels of iron and the blood protein hemoglobin, both of which are toxic at high

Read More: http://snip.ly/5llk8#https://scienmag.com/immune-cells-may-heal-bleeding-brain-after-strokes/

How does the US healthcare system compare with other countries?

Despite US legislation in 2010 that moved the country closer to achieving universal healthcare, costs have continued to rise and nearly 26 million Americans are still uninsured according to the Congressional Budget Office.

As Republicans decide whether to repeal or replace the struggling healthcare policy, how does the existing US healthcare system compare with those in other countries?

Broadly speaking, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines universal health coverage as a system where everyone has access to quality health services and is protected against financial risk incurred while accessing care.

A brief history of the healthcare systems used today

Among the 35 OECD member countries, 32 have now introduced universal healthcare legislation that resembles the WHO criteria.

In Germany, the world’s first national health insurance system shows how UHC often evolves from an initial law. Originally for industrial labourers, cover gradually expanded to cover all job sectors and social groups, with today’s German workers contributing around 15% of their monthly salary, half paid by employers, to public sickness funds.

Established in 1948 to be free at the point of use, the UK’s NHS has almost totemic status for Britain’s rising, ageing population who scrutinise it like perhaps no other policy area. While care from GP services to major surgery remains free as intended, the system is under unprecedented financial strain from a funding gap estimated to be in the billions.

Under France’s state-run equivalent of the UK’s NHS, the majority of patients must pay the doctor or practitioner upfront. The state then reimburses them in part or in full. Workers make compulsory payments into state funds used to reimburse between 70% and 100% of the upfront fees, while many people pay into other schemes to cover the balance.

In the mid-1960s, the United States implemented insurance programs called Medicare and Medicaid for segments of the population including low income and elderly adults. In 2010, Obamacare became the closest the US has come to a system of UHC. A legal mandate now requires all Americans to have insurance or pay a penalty. About 26 million people remain without health insurance despite these advances.

185018601870188018901900191019201930194019501960197019801990200020101 billion2016 population500 millionGermanyNorwayUnited KingdomSwedenJapanDenmarkFranceAustraliaItalyCanadaSpainSwitzerlandUnited States

Spending compared with life expectancy

Life expectancy in the US is still lower than other developed countries, despite health funding increasing at a much faster pace.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2017/07/archive-4-zip/giv-3902KPB1eyzruSUd/

Who provides healthcare and how is it paid for?

How healthcare is funded has a direct effect on the level of healthcare people have access to.

Single-payer

The state funds an agreed range of services through public clinics that are paid for through taxes
For example, in Sweden there is a limit in how much you pay for healthcare in one year of between 900-1100 kronor (£80-£100)

Two-tier

Government healthcare may be less comprehensive and minimum level of coverage can be supplemented by private insurance
In Australia, hospital treatment is covered by Medicare, yet most people pay a fee to see a GP or for ambulance services. 57% of adults have private insurance

Insurance mandate

A two-tier system underpinned by an insurance mandate where citizens are legally required to purchase cover from public or private insurers
Most people in Japan receive health insurance from their employer, otherwise they must sign up for a national health insurance programme. Medical fees are regulated to keep them affordable

How could the US healthcare system change?

Donald Trump ran on a campaign to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, but discord among Republicans has highlighted the political challenges faced with implementing a healthcare system, much less trying to change it.

With millions still uninsured and the financial burden of healthcare still quite high, the current US policy falls short of the WHO threshold.

Thus far, separate bills introduced in the House and the Senate were estimated to see steep increases in the number of uninsured from current levels.

Estimated uninsured under existing and proposed healthcare plans

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2017/07/us-health-bills/giv-390230uMJnHPMgxF/