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.

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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=

Are You Obese but Healthy? You May Still Be 96% More Susceptible to Heart Failure

 

Are You Obese but HealthyObesity is one of the biggest causes of non-communicable, lifestyle diseases today. According to the World Health Organisation, close to 1.9 billion adults were obese in the year 2014. Around 2.8 million people die due to some complications associated with obesity every year. A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology notes that obese people who may otherwise be healthy and free from ailments like diabetes, hypertension, et cetera may still run at a high risk of heart failure. Such individuals are 96% more likely to be at a risk of heart failure over people with normal weight who are also metabolically healthy.

“Obese individuals with no metabolic risk factors are still at a higher risk of coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and heart failure than normal weight metabolically healthy individuals,” noted lead author Rishi Caleyachetty, from the University of Birmingham. “Obese patients, irrespective of their metabolic status, should be encouraged to lose weight and that early detection and management of normal weight individuals with metabolic abnormalities will be beneficial in the prevention of CVD events,” suggested Krish Nirantharakumar, senior lecturer from the varsity.

Experts studied electronic health records of close to 3.5 million British adults to assess cardiovascular diseases.

 

Read more: http://snip.ly/qtuw9#http://www.ndtv.com/food/are-you-obese-but-healthy-you-may-still-be-96-more-susceptible-to-heart-failure-1749667

Congress, keep hands off employer sponsored plans in healthcare fights

Congress, keep hands

Lawmakers are back in town and soon the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will once again take up the beast that is healthcare.

Some will be tempted to merely throw more money and the semblance of flexibility into a broken system — we urge them  to reject this Band-Aid, and to instead implement real reforms. The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) implores Congress not to take this opportunity to protect the employer-sponsored health insurance system, which is the single most common source of health coverage in the nation, providing 178 million Americans with access to healthcare.

Congress is focused on stabilizing endangered exchange marketplaces. ERIC heartily agrees that market stabilization is important for everyone, but addressing the cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurance companies is just a small part of solving the problem.

 

Last month, ERIC, along with several other organizations, sent a letter to Congress with policy recommendations that would help stabilize the market, while also ensuring the future of affordable employer-provided health benefits.

We recommended Congress should fund CSR payments to improve affordability in the individual market. Congress should also repeal the 40 percent “Cadillac” tax on employer-sponsored health plans, with no new taxes on health benefits. And lawmakers should repeal the health insurance tax on fully insured health plans, which a recent Oliver Wyman study found will cost Americans $22 billion next year alone. They should also enable employers to innovate with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and protect the ability of employers to offer uniform benefits to employees and their families — no matter where they live, work, or receive medical care.

Tax relief is key to protecting the employer-sponsored system. Since World War II, the American tax code has encouraged employers to set up quality health plans for their employees by exempting company health benefit expenditures from income and payroll taxes. The Affordable Care Act placed a crippling financial burden on plan sponsors through the employer mandate and the taxes mentioned above.

An easy place to start would be fully repealing the highly unpopular Cadillac tax. It has already been delayed until 2020 and lawmakers have voted to repeal it twice. The first time in 2015 and the most recent during the healthcare votes this past July.

The Cadillac tax will hit more than 50 percent of the workforce within ten years of its implementation, according to a January study by the consulting firm Milliman —that’s 60 million Americans. These employees could see their benefits slashed by thousands of dollar while their salaries stay flat.

Some economists theorize that because of the Cadillac tax, workers might see their pre-tax wages increase as employers switch to cheaper plans. But if that happens, employees would also pay a lot more in taxes, costing 12.1 million employees upwards of $1,000 in higher payroll and income taxes.

In fact, 80 percent of the revenue raised by the Cadillac tax is expected to come from workers paying more income and payroll taxes, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office.

Aside from health tax relief, another way to improve the healthcare system is updating consumer-directed health options like Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The Committee and Congress should raise HSA contribution limits, ensuring that HSA and high-deductible plan beneficiaries have access to supplemental benefits. They should also allow consumers to use their HSAs to purchase over-the-counter medicines while updating rules to ensure those enrolled in HSA-compatible plans can benefit from first-dollar coverage for prescription drugs and other medical products and services likely to prevent or reduce catastrophic episodes in the future.

The Senate HELP Committee must also look at value-based healthcare options, which are ways plan sponsors and consumers can spend healthcare dollars smarter. Earlier this year, The ERISA Industry Committee and the Pacific Business Group on Health launched the DRIVE Health Initiative, a campaign to accelerate economic growth by controlling health costs and improving quality through the rapid adoption of value-based healthcare. The initiative calls for targeted deregulation and the use of market-based purchasing strategies by Medicare and other federal health programs.

Fixing healthcare is not easy. As lawmakers move forward in crafting new legislation, they must be sure it protects the employer-sponsored system that has provided affordable, quality coverage to more than half of the population for decades and allow for continued improvement and innovations.

If they don’t, the employer-sponsored health insurance system could be in jeopardy, creating a much bigger problem than that of the ACA exchanges.

James Gelfand is the senior vice president for health policy at The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC). ERIC is the only national association that advocates exclusively for large employers on health, retirement and compensation public policies at the federal, state and local levels.

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.

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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.

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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

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