Reimagining healthcare marketing: Direct-to-consumer approach

As we navigate the acceleration of technology coupled with rapidly changing healthcare policy, it's vital that healthcare leaders recognize the value of innovative solutions crafted to make care convenient, accessible and personalized the moment an individual enters our system — or even before that. Our influence extends well beyond marketing our services for mass appeal, patient volume or revenue. We have a distinct opportunity and responsibility to utilize marketing strategies that can potentially save lives.

Healthcare influencers are accountable for developing solutions rooted in our goal to serve our communities and shift the landscape to a fee-for-value system oriented toward keeping people as healthy as they can be. This healthcare delivery model requires a reimagined, patient-centered approach that personalizes care by allowing individuals to select options that apply to their unique needs, financial situation and lifestyle. This approach is driven by the proliferation of technology and our ability to use that potential to foster creativity and responsiveness.

How can we best position healthcare services to modern-day consumers who are well informed of their care options, constantly plugged in to their technology sources and seeking something more accessible and convenient than before?

1. Seamless connectivity
As we reimagine the way we deliver care, we are offering individuals choices by integrating our offerings into one central point of entry — everything in one place. This connects the healthcare dots for the consumer on the back end, so they can access what they need, when they need it, no matter where they are. By consolidating our access points, we can provide one seamless offering to connect and direct individuals in real time.

2. Mobile technology
It's been estimated that clinical visits will decrease by 50 percent in the near future. Digital innovations have reshaped the way we deliver care by replacing traditional models with technologies capable of improving clinical outcomes. We're connecting to our patients in real time through online scheduling, no-wait check-in options, online visits with providers, real-time social media reactivity and more. Additionally, our visibility using online tools, such as MDsave, allows consumers access to price transparency, product offers and incentives.

3. Individual choice
It's proven that by empowering consumers to manage their health with personalized options, health outcomes improve. We have the opportunity to reshape how communities receive care by focusing on both choice and convenience. This includes urgent care close to home, 24/7 virtual care, advanced patient portals and seamless navigation through our online access points. This "menu" of healthcare services — all within one unified brand — integrates, aggregates and aligns the points of entry into our system.

4. Close proximity
We are boldly rethinking how we offer care along the continuum — not just for consumer retention, but so individuals have immediate and simple access points at every moment in life. We understand the power of interpersonal communication— in our facilities and among our consumers. By moving care into communities, we can drive referrals and volume, allowing us to quickly enter new markets and improve access. We will not only enter new geographic markets and adjacencies with a clear plan, we will be able to do this at a more affordable rate for both our health system and those we serve.

Healthcare thought leaders must offer innovative, intentional services that make sense. Our reimagined unified Ascension brand meets each individual right where they are in their healthcare journey. This proactive approach adds to the physician-consumer dynamic and expands access points to sustain that relationship. The "retailization" and added transparency encourages those we serve to utilize preventive care.

By creating a consistent, easy-to-find, central point of access to our healthcare services, we will achieve our mission of bringing care to those most in need.

Nick Ragone, Esq., is senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for Ascension, the nation's largest nonprofit health system and the world's largest Catholic health system.


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