Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Revenue and Marketing Opportunities Due to the Affordable Care Act

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka healthcare reform) underway, do you think that there are any revenue and marketing opportunities?

A good questions since many, if not all of the current health insurance plans offered by employers either through a third party, or as self-insured are in grandfathered status. But that should not stop you from looking at the Affordable Care Act (ACA) innovatively and creatively to find and capture those revenue opportunities.

The basic reason is simple, employers do give a damn about grandfathered status, but will be unable over time to maintain it. In the business world, cost is king. Period. Employers will do anything they can to drive down that cost by making changes in co-pays, coverage and carriers. When these changes are made grandfathered status is lost. If you're not planning and getting ready to execute your revenue and marketing strategies now, you are already behind in the game.

Think Walgreens and CVS/Caremark are waiting around and not planning with their work-site and retail clinic programs?

Your first opportunistic date is September 23, 2010.

On September 23rd, the Preventive Services Covered under the Affordable Care Act become a reality.

The Opportunity

There are three primary areas: Covered Preventive Services for Adults; Covered Preventive Services for Women, Including Pregnant Women; and Covered Preventive Services for Children. I am not going to go into great detail here as there are a large number of covered services in each category, so if you follow this link to http://www.healthcare.gov/law/about/provisions/services/lists/html where
you will find all the information in great detail.

Important point to remember. These are services that must be covered without people having to pay a copayment or meet their deductible, when these services are delivered by a network provider. Be that network provider.

What you need to do is create a comprehensive preventive care product offering in these categories, price it accordingly and sell it to your exiting insurance companies and employers in your community. Screenings lead to diagnosis, and treatment. Revenue and volume. It's a straight line from one to the other if you are out in the market. Cost is king and if you are not cost competitive, you won't get the initial business and potential downstream revenue.

This play is B2B, B2B2C and B2C, requiring close communication and collaboration between business development, insurance contracting and marketing to pull it off. Create a strategy, develop the tactics and then execute. Remember, the view always looks the same if you're not the lead dog. Consider co-branding with the insurance plan and employer.

Don't stop there.

Marketing should be part of any discussion that's going on and it's not just make me some pretty materials. You need a strategy, clear brand messaging and tactical execution across a wide array of channels and communication vehicles. Your audiences are: insurance plans; employers; physicians; TPAs and consumers. Tactics include direct sales; video emails; direct mail to covered members; web; social media; media relations; community events and work-site programs. Deliver what you can on-site, in retail locations and create special fast-track registration and service delivery methods for preventive services. Keep your cost down and compete.

Be accountable. Be Measureable. Lead your markets. Healthcare is changing, don't get left behind.

Lots to do and little time to do it.

Michael Krivich is Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and can be reached at michael@themichaeljgroup.com or 815-293-1471 for consulting services in strategic marketing, media relations and interim marketing executive leadership assignments. Huthwaite SPIN selling trained and a Miller Heiman Strategic Selling alumni, both highly respected and successful international sales training organizations , I can lead your organization though the challenge of integrating sales and marketing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Selling to Physicians Through Integrated Marketing and Sales

Physicians are the lifeblood of many a healthcare organization. As competition increases for their attention whether it be a hospital, specialty pharmacy, medical device manufacturer, or pharmaceutical company to name a few, cutting through the din of messages and relationships can be a daunting task.

For hospitals failure to build successful relationships and sales strategies mean that your docs could admit patients elsewhere. Note to hospitals: If you are not selling to docs, then you're missing a great opportunity to build volume by creating a more committed medical staff than if you just doing "relations or liaison" activities. You can sell legally and effectively if you know what you are doing.

For medical device manufacturers, failure to sell the doc mean a more difficult time selling your product into the venue where the physician practices medicine.

For specialty pharmacies, the physician sends his or her patients elsewhere.

So how do you cut through all of the chatter and have marketing and sales work together effectively?

No magic answers here.

No pixie dust either.

But here are 10 rules of thumb for moving forward:

1) Your sales people must be using a common sales strategy across the enterprise. I have seen too many organizations where everybody's left to their own methods resulting in incorrect messaging and using poorly designed home-grown materials which could have some significant legal repercussions for the organization. Your sales force activities are about relationship selling and acting as the liaison for the physician to your organization. If you don't have a method and training, chances are you will not be as effective as your competition.

2) Use a sales database system to collect information and the marketing department needs to have full access. If your just starting to look at one, marketing needs to be at that table. Don't assume that sales or IT knows what marketing needs. They don't. Systems breed accountability on all sides of the ledger.

3) Create an interdisciplinary marketing and sales advisory committee. Where most organizations fall down is the poor communication and working relationships between sales and marketing. You have to get past the "the feet on the street" don't deliver the brand messages and promise in the right way, and all that marketing is good for is creating stuff, because I need more stuff to leave behind attitudes.

4) Train your marketing department in the sale approach that your sales people are using. This way marketing begins to understand the opportunities and challenges faced, and how your sales staff is trained to overcome them. This means that all marketing materials should be created to be applicable and useful at some point in the sales cycle. It's all about shortening the sales cycle. Effective materials will assist in that goal.

5) Let your marketing people go out on sales calls and major presentations. They can be a new set of eyes and ears as well as providing them with new perspectives on how difficult the job is. Insights from other areas will make you a stronger organization.

6) Cut down on the number of slide you use for presentations. An 80 page slide deck is all about you and nothing about your potential customer. If you have to use more than 10 slides, you don't know what you are talking about and don't understand your audience. Talking head are boring.

7) Marketing departments need to see what sales people have created for use in their markets. Sales people are creative and resourceful. You may find some useful material to use and distribute across the entire organizations.

8) Have marketing attend you sales meetings and weekly funnel calls. It's about relationships and dialogue. Marketing should have a roll in explaining the organizational strategy, and what they are doing to generate meaningful leads for sales to follow-up on.

9) Joint marketing and sales goals and objectives should be established. Share in the pain and share in the gain.

10) Constantly evaluate and begin again.

Michael Krivich is Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and can be reached at michael@themichaeljgroup.com or 815-293-1471 for consulting services in strategic marketing, media relations and interim marketing executive leadership assignments. Huthwaite SPIN selling trained and a Miller Heiman Strategic Selling alumni, both highly respected and successful international sales training organizations , I can lead your organization though the challenge of integrating sales and marketing.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Marketing Healthcare PACS & RIS IT Solutions

This post is a little different for me. Usually, I am looking at the hospital side of the marketing equation and not so much the sales vendor side. Having worked on both the hospital and IT vendor side Radiology Information System, (RIS), Picture Archiving Communication System (PACS) and Electronic Medical Record (EMR), it is most interesting to compare. The great challenge is selling into two spaces simultaneously, the physician and the C-Suite. Messages may be the similar and different at the same time. Once size does not fit all. Additionally, this is not an all inclusive look at marketing PACS and RIS.

I am not addressing the sales side of the equation. That's a discussion for another topic at a later date. I am not anti-sales by any means being Huthwaite SPIN selling trained and a Miller Heiman Strategic Selling alumni. The integration of marketing and sales is for another day.

Just an observation but everyone is starting to look the same. It's easy to lose that differentiation that every company craves when selling similar products and services .

Key Messages

Reducing cost, improving quality, reducing medical errors, innovative, next generation, improving productivity and efficiency, easy to use, interoperability with all systems, IHE, user groups that deliver real information, increasing satisfaction for the physician, C-suite and patients are key messages everyone is using. What is wrong with this picture? The pun is intended!

So let's take a short look at some common marketing techniques and what could be done to break the log jam? Less is more....

Case Studies

Case studies are important and I would think everyone agrees on that point. Our audiences suffer from information overload. Where the observation is that those documents are way too long. Sometimes it seem like we get paid by the word, or we are so enthralled by our own system prowess that we must write in excruciating detail. If I have learned anything about case studies and white papers for physicians and the C-Suite it's two pages tops. And even that needs white space. Organize as follows; Background , Solution, Outcomes. And yes they can be written in two pages or less. Just because they are shorter doesn't mean you're treating your audience like an idiot. They most likely will appreciate the brevity.

Also, if you keep them shorter you can use them as the basis for email campaigns. But that too requires creativity. Use a video spokesperson to introduce the white paper or case study to drive the audience to your web site. Its electronic and can be done for $15,000 or less, including email list procurement.

White Papers

White papers it is believed, add a measure of thought leadership to your space. They do, provided you are putting them out on a regular basis and (this is the important part) are more than you writing about what you know about. White Papers need to be used as mechanism for thought-leadership, not simply writing what you know about. To be a thought leader in your field you need to write like a "thought- leader". That means taking on topics you may not feel so comfortable about. It may mean becoming a visionary and projecting out where an industry may be going. To be seen as a thought-leader you must generate though-leading content and that is content beyond what you know.

For example, those vendors who operate in the international space, think of the lessons you have learned in single payer government sponsored healthcare systems, or in Europe where there is a mix of payers where everyone has health coverage. How do those lessons translate into the transformation of the American healthcare system? That is thought leadership.

Association Meetings

Here is not so much exhibiting which some do allow, but being a co-presenter with a hospital or doc on how working together the hospital lowered cost, improved quality, increased efficiency etc. You are not the focal point but the doctor or hospital is the focal point, You play the supporting character with your product. Yes, you do have a role as a presenter but this is the soft sell and credibility established as a the content expert as well as showing you understand the pain and can make it go away. Consider being a major sponsor as well to access key decision makers one-on-one.


Yep another me too category. However it seems that most people are still in the 9-5 mentality. Most physicians and professionals I know are usually working in their office or the hospital. So why not have these webinars in the evening or early morning before they start reviewing x-rays, digital or film? If they are not reading x-rays then they are not making money. Don't infringe on that valuable time. Be more responsive. For the C-suite, lunch time is usually good for them scheduled later in the week rather than early in the week or the middle.

Internet usage

Interactive, interactive, interactive. Way too much copy heavy web pages. Readers neither have the patience nor the desire to have to read the fine print to see what they want. Make sure your site is user friendly; no more than 3 clicks to find information. Use video messaging. Don't forget about facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, blogs, YouTube etc. Your audience is out there. Messages delivered across multiple channels are more effective then a one size fits all approach.

Customer Evangelists

Got to have them. If your hospitals, doctors and others won't stand up for you, then you have a problem. You're just another vendor who can be replaced. Testimonials, patient success stories, outcomes, data transparency, anything that can show others are passionate about your product. Third party conferred credibility is a powerful medium and message. Don't lose sight of it. Find them and leverage. Shame on you if you don't.

Media Relations

More than just press releases, this is the down and dirty of getting coverage. Major stories in targeted publications will do more for you than any advertisement, banner ad, webinar etc. people do believe what they read. You need a steady stream of news and information. Be proactive, build press relationships. Use the Business Wire. Target your messages for the specific press you are trying to attract. Build your news around current events in healthcare. Don't be afraid to issue a statement on your position on a topic of importance. Be seem as a content expert so that when news develops around the industry you're in, you become the go-to organization for the quote. it confers strong expert credibility for you and your companies solution products. Copies of articles can be used a leave behinds and in campaigns. Can't buy that kind of coverage and credibility. Build more than a press page- build a bio of the senior team and a speakers bureau for conference, seminars etc. If you are not out in the market presenting, then you are not being seen. Presence builds preference.

I have gone on long enough and probably too long for that matter. But from what I have seen in the segment of the healthcare industry, everybody is starting to look the same. And that could lead to a commoditization of the PACS & RIS environment where people buy only on price and nothing else.

So seller beware.....

Michael Krivich is Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and can be reached at michael@themichaeljgroup.com or 815-293-1471 for consulting services in strategic marketing, media relations and interim marketing executive leadership assignments.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Using Marketing to Brand and Leverage Your Human Resource Recruiting Efforts

Is there a reason why most healthcare organizations do not use internal marketing expertise to improve their Human Resource (HR) recruitment efforts?

I can hear it now and have seen it myself:

No budget.
It's expensive.
Doesn't matter.
Employees leave, then we have to change everything.
How can a brand help us to attract qualified individuals?
Don't have the time for all the creative.
Non-traditional ways won't work.

And so forth and so on.....

Most help wanted ads, traditional and online in healthcare continue to look like they have over the past 25 years. Come join us! We are a (fill in the blank) organization. We care.. You're family here.. And the beat goes on. A missed branding opportunity if there ever was one. A few forward thinking organizations have embraced the concept of branding their HR efforts within the larger organizational brand. Unfortunately, those are far and few between.

A missed opportunity.

And it's not just adding the logo and tag-line to the advertisement.

Employee within the context of the organizational brand can be a powerful force in recruitment. What speaks better for you, an employee with your branded organizational values and brand promise, or an effort that looks really no different than all the other? With a nurse and primary care physician shortage, you need any edge you can get. You need an organizational HR marketing plan that supports and complements the organizational staffing plan.

Why not leverage the your brand in the context of employment?

Your healthcare organization over time has spent millions in creating a brand architecture, designing and implementing marketing plans, web sites, engaging in community outreach, marketing product lines etc. Human Resources is a product line and needs the full force of marketing, the organizational brand structure and messaging that goes along with it. You can attract those individuals that will enhance the organization and its brand while demonstrating to all your key audiences another quality value of your brand.

Employee have a much larger effect, positive and negative on your brand than you may wish to admit. So leverage that influence to the positive side of the ledger.

Healthcare will never be the same because of reform. It's time to step out from the practices of the past and embrace the innovation and change that is needed today. Your future and your ability to attract highly qualified staff depends on it.

Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association, and I can be reached at 815-293-1471 or michael@themichaeljgroup.com