The evolution of healthcare marketing: Q&A with industry experts

The evolution of healthcare marketing: Q&A with industry experts

By Dodge Communications (not verified) on September 3rd, 2013

We’re in two industries (healthcare and integrated communications) that require close attention to rapid change in order to consistently and effectively communicate to target audiences on behalf of our clients. Between new and ongoing legislative demands and changes in the economy, the past two years especially have required critical shifts in healthcare marketing, so we’ve asked three industry experts to weigh in with their perspectives, centering on what the leading influencers are and what we can expect in the near future.

Jack Beaudoin, Managing Director and President of MedTech Media, a division of HIMSS Media

  • How has healthcare technology marketing changed in the past two years (with new legislation, market drivers, patient engagement, etc.)? What do you think the biggest influencers have been?

We've seen increased interest in custom content – creating, marketing and developing audiences for owned media (versus earned media). Health technology companies are increasing efforts to get their experts in front of potential customers. They want to be thought leaders. And interest in lead-generation continues unabated.

  • How do you see it changing over the next two years?

Clearly, meaningful use, ICD-10 and technology requirements built into the Affordable Care Act are shaping the marketing messages in our industry — since these are extremely complex topics, they require deep engagement strategies such as educational webinars, white papers and even live events.  Interestingly, this creates an opportunity for more commodified solutions to exploit branding opportunities such as print and premium online ad space, which convey market leadership.

Eric Arnson, VP of Marketing and Product Management, and Teresa Stubbs, Director of Marketing, at Capario

  • How has healthcare technology marketing changed in the past two years (with new legislation, market drivers, patient engagement, etc.)? What do you think the biggest influencers have been?

The biggest change I’ve witnessed in the marketing of healthcare IT solutions is in the way those solutions are packaged. Five years ago, it was the norm to offer individual products for each task that was performed in a physician’s business office. You sold one product for claims submission and another for claims tracking and yet another for reworking denials. Today, those same solutions are more likely to be integrated into a single solution that is “all-inclusive.” The focus is now on the entire revenue cycle, not just bits and pieces of it.

The main driver I see behind this is legislation that is changing the reimbursement model. Gone are the days of seeing a patient with no money exchanged, billing the insurance company for total amount due and then sending a bill to the patient to collect the remainder—often more than a month past the time the patient was seen. Because of this change, along with HIPAA, 5010 and ICD-10 legislation, transparency and integration of all data related to the healthcare claim is imperative. So the products that previously were sold and used separately now have to talk to one another. And with that, the way we market our solutions has to be more holistic in nature. It’s not just about features and functions anymore. It’s now about a single integrated offering that helps physician offices manage every aspect of their revenue cycle.

  • How do you see it changing over the next two years?

Over the next two years I think solutions that today are marketed primarily to provider offices will expand to include other affected entities. Even today, we’re beginning to see payers coming to us asking for help in driving utilization of things such as eligibility verification. They’re asking us to market directly to their clients on their behalf. I see this expansion of marketing as win-win for all entities involved. We’re even seeing providers ask us to help them reach their patients.  The challenge will be in defining the specific benefits of our solutions to each of these markets while maintaining a unified approach to our marketing overall.

Mark Hagland, Editor in Chief for Healthcare Informatics

  • How has healthcare technology marketing changed in the past two years (with new legislation, market drivers, patient engagement, etc.)? What do you think the biggest influencers have been?

Fundamentally, what has happened as a result of the impact of the meaningful use process under the HITECH Act and the impact of the Affordable Care Act, as well as the transition to the new ICD-10 system, is that nearly everything that hospital, medical group, and health system leaders are looking for, is in some way connected to meaningful use or healthcare reform, or the ICD-10 transition. So marketers for healthcare IT vendors need to figure out how their products and services fit into that scenario, and how they meet the very real, very urgent needs around healthcare reform, in the broadest sense, and meaningful use, as well as the ICD-10 transition. Put another way, products and services that don’t meet those needs face potentially being ignored right now.

  • How do you see it changing over the next two years?

Things will only intensify in this regard in the next two years, as provider executives and leaders work assiduously to meet the data and IT requirements imposed directly on their organizations by meaningful use and the ICD-10 transition mandate, and indirectly, by the requirements embedded in the ACA, such as preparing for the mandated programs under that law that include value-based purchasing, avoidable readmissions reduction, and healthcare-acquired conditions reduction. The needs are becoming more urgent by the day, and those vendors able to meet the very real needs of provider organizations have a far better chance in the marketplace.