Lessons for Hospital Marketers From the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference

Hospital marketers seeking to reach women can better understand and support the healthcare organizations they work for by learning about and capitalizing on the latest industry trends. Dan Michelson, CEO of Chicago-based Strata Decision Technology, recently wrote a thoughtful recap of the 2019 JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in an article titled “The No. 1 takeaway from the 2019 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference: It’s the platform, stupid.” The article offers insights into the evolution of healthcare delivery systems as they shift from a provider mindset (selling services) to a platform mindset (being a hub for healthcare and health services in the community).

This piece brought up some interesting opportunities for healthcare marketers who are specifically focused on reaching out to women. A point we’ve been driving at on this blog and in our third-party publishing: Women’s healthcare doesn’t just mean OB-GYN care. Women and men are different; they’re different in size, they respond to medications differently, and they face different long-term health concerns over the course of their lives. At the end of this article, I’ll explain how Michelson’s observations about where healthcare is headed present a great opportunity for hospitals and health systems to connect more deeply with women.

Michelson reports that the largest and most forward-thinking hospitals and healthcare systems in the country are shifting from a growth strategy of buying/building hospitals and selling healthcare to a strategy of becoming a hub for health and healthcare in their communities. Instead of simply selling patients care and then sending them on their way, these systems are leveraging all the tools at their disposal (research, data, AI, clinical insights, etc.) and working with partners to build community hubs for education and training, for R&D partnerships, for effective support for mental health, for collaboration on fixing homelessness and hunger, and more.

The spike in mergers and acquisitions in the last 10 years, which many hospitals used as a primary growth tactic, has laid the groundwork for hospitals to become hubs. The hassle of integrating all the new systems into a single operating entity has, in many cases, already happened. Now the opportunity is to take advantage of all the structures that are in place to support being a hub. Michelson sees six ways hospitals can move to the next step in the journey toward becoming healthcare hubs in their communities.

  1. Invest in digital delivery of services. If hospitals don’t start offering this, they’ll lose patients to startups and other systems that do. The convenience factor is huge. Eliminating hassle for patients is becoming table stakes.
  2. Fix the cost problem. As more systems figure out ways to drive affordability and directly link services with fees, they’ll begin to compete on cost. Pricing needs to be transparent, consistent and accurate.
  3. Focus on social determinants of health. There are economic incentives to preventive healthcare. Hospitals already have the systems in place to do this; it’s just a matter of understanding and implementing the business model that will support it.
  4. Work with partners. Outside companies can help build solutions to problems like the aforementioned cost issues. A hospital that works with partners to become a hub for research, education and innovation in the healthcare space will have consumers in addition to patients — and in many cases, that line will blur. This is a good thing.
  5. Focus on service lines and chronic conditions. Hospitals are now competing against platforms like CVS Health and Walgreens, which go beyond their clinic offerings and provide services like nutritionist consultations, diabetes counseling, immunizations, infusions and more. Hospitals have to take a holistic but targeted approach, and think about the entire customer experience.
  6. Use the data. Hospitals should partner with data-analysis firms to leverage applied analytics. This will allow them to reallocate resources, execute productivity initiatives and reinvest saved dollars in experimenting with care-delivery vehicles, partnerships with outside companies and more.

Serving healthcare via a platform that treats patients in a more holistic fashion as opposed to via a provider that offers treatment for one specific issue will have tremendous appeal to patients — and especially to women, 67 percent of whom are interested in holistic health (as opposed to 44 percent of men).  Here’s where the big opportunity is for marketers. It will be extremely important to keep a finger on the pulse of the healthcare organizations we work for as they make this shift, and they’ll be looking to us to communicate it to consumers (particularly women). When we have a deep understanding of what drives our clients and their customers, we can work to align the unmet needs of each in ways that will benefit both.

I, for one, am very excited about where this shift will take us.

Kathy Selker
I’m Kathy Selker. My work as CEO of Northlich, a Cincinnati-based healthcare marketing agency, has taught me a great deal about how hospitals and health systems can best connect with women to make the most positive impact in their lives.
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