Webinar: how healthcare marketers can respond to emerging industry trends

July 11, 2017
Stephanie Burton Director, Healthcare Marketing

Emerging Industry Trends in Healthcare

It’s true. The only constant in healthcare is change. And, that has never been true more than it is today. During this 20-minute webinar, participants will learn about:

  • The top five healthcare trends today.
  • Strategies hospital and health system marketers can use to maintain a competitive edge for their organizations.



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Stephanie: Hello. Thanks for joining me this afternoon. My name is Stephanie Burton. I am the Director of Healthcare Marketing at Core Creative. We’re here to talk about something that you’ve probably been talking about in your organizations, but may not know how it fits your role as a healthcare marketer. Our today’s topic is trending now, how healthcare marketers can respond to emerging industry trends. I’ll tell you a little bit about myself, in case we haven’t had the opportunity to meet.

I have both provider site experience. I was at Children’s Hospital Wisconsin for six years in aim marketing public relations and communications role. For the past six years, I have had the pleasure of working for Core Creative. We’re a fully integrated marketing communications firm. My role is largely state in healthcare. I work a lot with hospitals and health systems. We work with medical devices, and lots of other aspects of the healthcare field. It’s lots of fun.

I always said, one of the reasons that this topic came to us, we’re constantly looking for what’s next on the horizon, because we as an organization want to respond to it. Same with you, same with you as a healthcare marketer, but one of the things that I’ve found, because I’ve been on a number of, as a participant, a number of these webinars, is that while we look at trends, sometimes we don’t know what that means for us as healthcare marketers. Hopefully, in the few short minutes that we have together, I can help summarize that for you and serve some things up for you that can be actionable in your role as a healthcare marketer.

Let’s go ahead and get started. First of all, we know this. Resisting changes so natural. It’s probably the most natural thing that we do outside of breathing, particularly when it comes to innovation. I want you to know that I acknowledge this, but that is our role as a marketer, particularly as we’re leading hospitals and health systems. Here’s some common excuses that I hear. I will raise my hand and fully admit that I have given some of these excuses before in the past, but see if any of these ring true.

That’s never going to take off. Joe in accounting is working on that. It’s someone else’s responsibility. I don’t want to step on anyone else’s toes, and I certainly understand the need to be respectful of people’s roles and responsibilities, but sometimes we do need to get involved as healthcare marketers. I’m too busy keeping the ship afloat. There’s too many other things going on. One of the things that I find is that sometimes the other things that are going on aren’t as important as what’s coming down the road. We keep ourselves busy, but that’s not the meaningful work that we’ve really been called to do.

Then finally, that doesn’t have an immediate impact on my job. True, though I would imagine in our roles, I would argue that in our roles just about everything has an immediate impact on our jobs. Sometimes it’s up to us to bring the urgency into the room. I love this quote from Steve Jobs who says, “We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise, why else even be here?” One of the questions that we ask at Core Creative frequently is, “Why?” What gets us up in the morning? Why do we get up in the morning?

For healthcare marketers, I found that we’re a bit of a different breed. Some of us may have come into this profession, because we’ve known that’s always what we’ve wanted to do. Others may have stumbled upon this profession and then found that this is where we want to be, because it speaks really greatly to our why, which has an awful lot to do with making a difference in the lives of others. If you’re like me, you won’t see me in patient care anytime soon. It’s not my calling, but my calling is making a positive impact on other people’s lives.

I asked of you as we move throughout this brief webinar that you just keep that in mind, that this is a responsibility and it’s really a privilege that we have to make our small dent in the universe, and we have that ability. I argue that marketing communication should have a finger in just about everything. I can probably see your eyes rolling right now through the screen as you look at this, but this really presents a great opportunity for us as professionals.

Really, wherever two human beings interacting your organization, whether that’s a co-work at a coworker or a coworker with a patient, clinical with a patient, phone calls, whatever it may be, that has a direct impact on our brand. We as marketers need to be examining those impacts. Recently, I’m speaking in mid-June of 2017 and there is something going around on Facebook right now about a major hotel in Las Vegas that has a bedbug problem and someone, it’s a single consumer who launched the complaint, didn’t get the response that she wanted, and now it’s gone viral. These are the things that we want to try to avoid. If our interactions are good, we can do so.

Moving forward, here’s why, here’s why we should have a finger in just about everything, and I know you are incredibly busy. You’re probably holding the weight of the world on your shoulders, but that’s where we need to be, but we also need to get rid of those little things that don’t matter quite as much. First of all, it helps us enhance and reinforce our brand message. We own the brand, of course the entire organization owns the brand. Every interaction is representative of the brand, but this helps us enhance and reinforce our brand message.

We can improve the overall patient experience. We can make the case for an increase marketing budget. More dollars means we can do more things and that’s always a great thing, and related, it could help us potentially justify additional full-time employees. The ultimately, it helps us prove your worth and add value to the bottom line. Finally, it helps us make a real difference. That why, it goes back to your why that benefits the lives of other people.

Keep these things in mind as we move forward and as you think about that ever extensive to do list that you have. There’s a reason that we need to be involved. Our role is incredibly important and we need to make the case for that. Let’s go ahead and get started. We’ll talk about a few, I believe I have four key trends that are happening here. Some of them you may have heard of, maybe others you may not have, but as I said at the beginning, I’m going to tell you what the trend is and then will tell you what that means directly for healthcare marketers.

First of all, health system mergers and acquisitions, they’re happening. You see them happening in your market right now. This probably isn’t a surprise for you, but there’s a lot that we can do. So 63% of executives, and this is according to the society for healthcare market and strategy development, they published it by the numbers report frequently. This is result of that. They’re by the numbers report and then also they’re Futurescan. So 63% of executives predict that their hospital will merge or affiliate with another hospital by 2022.

Think about that. Today is 2017. 2022 is about five years away. Then think of a third of the hospitals in this country, thinking that they will merge or affiliate with another hospital by 2022, that’s a lot of change and it’s change that we have got to be prepared for. 83% of health system leaders believe their organization will invest in additional resources in managing organization wide cultural change. This is such great news. I am so happy to hear this, because that means that we’re understanding the value of our employees. For healthcare marketers, it means that we’re also understanding that our employees are an extension of our brand and we need to work with them to help provide them with the tools that they need to speak on our behalf.

Here’s what you can do about this, if you don’t already have a strong relationship with your human resources department, now is the time to start building that critical alliance. Sometimes in my work with hospitals and health systems, I see that sometimes there’s kind of this solid wall that’s been built between marketing and human resources. We’ve got to start to work to chip away at that, because it’s so important that we come together, so that for the betterment of really ultimately our communities.

It’s going to make work more fun. It will also help extend your brand. Everyone wins if you do this. I understand the challenges. I often say, “Human resource is professionals. As talented as they are, as much as we need them, sometimes it’s the by the rules against the department that’s breaking all the rules.” Again, it’s two really great forces coming together for the greater good and that is critical. You’ll see this theme come up again in this presentation. Here’s your first warning so to speak.

Trend number two, nursing shortage. This is not from SHSMD Futurescan, this is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but we all know that this is happening. 526,000, almost 527,000 nurses are planning to retire over the next few years nationwide. The demand for RNs is growing by 19% over the next seven years. 19%, that’s massive. It’s something that we’re watching very carefully. Again, what can we do as healthcare marketers? We’ve got to ask ourselves these following questions. How strong is our employer brand? What does it look like? What does it feel like? How are people interacting with the brand when they come to apply for a position or when we’re actively recruiting them? Does it feel good?

How can I help bring our internal brand into alignment with our external brand? Is what you’re saying outside of an organization closely aligned with what people are saying, feeling, believing, and how they’re acting inside the walls of the organization? We call that, “Total brand alignment” at Core Creative, but it’s very important that those two things match. Do our recruitment materials look and sound like an organization worthy of the best and brightest minds in the field? I can’t tell you how many times I have seen reproductions of reproductions. It’s a copy from 1972 that’s an application. That’s not us putting our best foot forward.

We need to look, sound, and behave like a best in class organization. Not an organization that needs to create reproductions of reproductions. As the kiddos say, “It’s not a good look.” Then is our mission fell within the walls of our health system every day or is it just seen as wall décor? I’ll give you an example of a health system I once worked with, which was just the poster child for mission statements. Their mission statement was simple and it was memorable. It was to impact the lives and improve the health of the people that we serve. It’s so memorable and so simple that I remember it.

98% of the people in that health system could recite that mission statement. It also attracted new employees of the mission statement, because it was very consistent with their why. More importantly, you saw that mission statement really come about and be on just a walled décor. It was present in everything that organization did and really inspirational.

Next, we’ll talk about payment reform. No surprise that this is something that’s going to happen. I think that regardless of what happens with legislation is we’ll continue to be something that we see. In the SHSMD Futurescan report, they do say that more than half of hospital reimbursement will be population based by 2022. This is according to healthcare executives that they surveyed as part of that report. 81% of hospital executives believe that new hospital or health system CEOs in their service areas will have prior experience managing population health for a healthcare organization.

With a communications and public relations background, this is actually really exciting to me. It provides us with the opportunity to directly impact the behaviors of people who are living in our community and for the better. Here’s what this means and what you can do as a healthcare marketer. First, proactively offer to help departments trying to prevent readmissions. This could mean joining committees or developing and implementing communications plans. I’ve found that often times as communications professionals, we just have that ability to plan to actually take folks through object, identifying objectives, determining who our target audiences are so that we can develop those strategies and tactics that really resonate with that target audience in an empathetic way. That’s our special gift. That’s our special talent and that’s exactly how we need to be using it.

Finally, dust off your content strategy. Determine how you can use content to educate and entertain your key audiences. An audience that is entertained is an audience that’s going to work to change their behavior, that’s going to make a difference in their lives. This content is something that we own as marketers, so exciting stuff here. Here’s a few statistics that we’ve pulled about what’s happening in the market. This is specific to on site health facilities that we’re seeing, huge trend in this area.

40% of large US employers with on site health facilities plan to add new centers and services in 2016. 80% of employers provide loan as resources and information and 70% of organizations offer loan as programs. All good stuff. It’s a trend toward wellness and this is exactly where we need to be. I think we can all pretty much agree with that. Here’s where things start to get really interesting, 29% of US based employers with 5,000 or more employees offered an on site clinic in 2014. We’re continuing to see these numbers climb, because it’s attractive for employers. It helps their employees stay at work and in many cases receive care that’s even better than they’re receiving in some of our own facilities.

This is a trend that we’re going to see, continue to creep up as a threat unless we choose to join these folks. I love this quote from Mike LaPenna who’s a healthcare strategy consultant who says, “Hospitals need to start getting directly involved with employers in the sponsorship, a work site based health clinics if they want to preserve market share and the opportunity to lead the way in population health management.” I really couldn’t agree more. We as marketers, can really start pushing, if we’re not already thinking about this, we can start pushing our senior leadership team if you’re not a member of into thinking in this way, because this is a huge threat. It’s also an opportunity.

Here’s what you can do, prioritize employee wellness programs as part of your annual marketing plan. Dedicate, and I mean this so sincerely, dedicate internal resources to support communication surrounding your health systems internal wellness program. Then get smart about your employer’s work site based health clinic strategy. Determine if and how you can support this competitive play. This is one of those, I don’t want to step on anyone else’s toes. This is the time that you need to start stepping on toes or inserting your self so that people can benefit from your expertise. You owe it to yourself, you owe it to your department, and you owe it to your health system, and the folks that you serve as well.

Convenience, convenience, convenience. It’s like, Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, but now convenience is trumping everything in the healthcare space including experience. Now, I’m not saying we’re putting experience by the wayside by any means, but if you have the ability to claim a convenience position, now is the time to do it. There are more than 3,000 retail clinics in operation. One in three consumers have visited a retail clinic, and if you are one of those one in three consumers, you know how convenient they can be. We’re meeting people where they are in grocery stores, out in the community so that it doesn’t have to disrupt people’s lives to make that special trip to an outpatient clinic or a hospital.

Hospital executives predict a few things. First of all, from a resourcing perspective, hospitals will allocate more resources to tell a medicine and virtual healthcare, and fewer resources to brick and mortar expansions. We’ve all probably heard this before, but we’re starting to see this happen. Moving up to telemedicine, we know that the demand for telemedicine is growing. That patient use is expected to increase in 25% in the coming years.

We are seeing this lag for a little bit. People weren’t quite so sure, the reimbursement rates or the levels weren’t right where we had hoped they would be and that’s all changing now. It makes really good sense for people to heal. It helps for them to be in their own homes surrounded by their own families, and not moving about out in the community getting sicker or infecting other people. People also just want to be at home when they’re sick. This is not a surprise. Telemedicine affords us the opportunity to keep people where they are so they can get well.

Then from a strategic standpoint, telemedicine and virtual healthcare will be a strategic priority in SHDMD’s by the number of reports. They said that 95% of respondents believe it will be in the strategic plan by 2022. It absolutely has to be. This is where things are headed right now. Here’s what you can do. First of all, reexamine your brand’s position. Is convenience a claim you can make? There’s a blog in our website right now about convenience being the brand position, that if you can claim it in your market, do it. It will make a huge difference for your consumers.

There’s a lot of different ways that you can claim convenience as a position. It doesn’t mean that you have to have everything perfect right now, but if your competitor isn’t claiming it and if you’re doing it better in the market, by all means, claim that position. Then champion the role of convenience in your health system’s promotional efforts. Talk about those after hours clinics. The standing ERs or EDs, telemedicine, anything that you have that really places you apart from your competitors as you worked toward that convenience claim.

Here’s the big opportunity. This is the grand finale. I told you HR would come back. I think that your biggest opportunity may be in developing alliances with your human resources department, if you have not already done so. Marketing and HR is a force to be reckon with. If we’re able to take down that massive wall that sometimes is between us. We’ve got nursing shortages that we need to account for. We’ve got murders and acquisitions that we need to be aware of. If we combine our talents, we will absolutely be unstoppable. That’s what will separate our health systems from the rests. There’s the big opportunity.

The challenge, the challenge that I leave you with is to take one of the emerging trends. Just one and choose to make a proactive effort to position your marketing communications department as a resource, whether that’s to your senior leadership team, to another department, or to just take it on as your own as a marketing department. This is how we are going to continue to make ourselves relevant, but also get to the needs of our consumers, which is ultimately what we’re here to do. That takes us through the webinar today. I thank you so much for your time.

Again, my name is Stephanie Burton. I’m the Director of Healthcare Marketing at Core Creative. I look forward to hearing from you if you have any questions or would like to discuss this topic further. Thanks so much.


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