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The Healthcare Decision-Makers Are Changing: Are You Ready?

healthcare and marketing intersectionToday’s healthcare market is running on a blend of legacy business processes and a rapidly evolving revolution that is shifting the decision-making power from big-company/big-government payer organizations and large healthcare delivery providers to individual consumers, who are the patients and their advocates. To remain competitive, every healthcare organization and the service vendors and suppliers who work with them must be able to navigate the old and the new business trends simultaneously, and plan the future to change with the market.

Over the next several years, four primary influences will dramatically affect the success of healthcare sales and marketing plans.

  1. Fragmentation. The market will segment by product type. For instance, companies that provide products or services that serve only healthcare providers but are not noticed by patients will not directly be influenced by social media or the educated consumer (e.g., sterile gowns used in the O.R., commodities such as bed pads, gauze, non-latex puncture-resistant gloves that protect healthcare workers, etc.). On the other hand, any company marketing a product or service that a patient interacts with during the continuum of care (e.g., new diagnostic tools, surgical instruments that improve safety or expedite recovery, telehealth, etc.) will be influenced by the patient’s opinion of the care they received.
  2. Current Coverage Decision Process. The commercial adoption of healthcare products or services follows “fee for service” coverage decisions made by government or private payers. Full payer coverage requires years of published randomized, controlled clinical trials, more recently in combination with economic and health outcomes data. This slows commercial adoption of newer technologies.
  3. Continued Industry Consolidation. “Pay for Performance” reimbursement to healthcare delivery providers such as ACOs, IDNs, etc., is forcing industry consolidation that can provide a coordinated continuum of care for each patient from an acute event through the process of recovery and release from provider care. The purchasing decision is shifting to healthcare delivery providers based on improved patient care, reducing the overall cost of care, and improving patient satisfaction. The industry consolidation taking place creates different challenges to medical device and service suppliers due to a reduction in the number of potential customers and the risk of elimination from group or corporate supplier contracts.

    For chronic diseases or conditions, and groups (e.g., employees), population health management becomes financially viable for providers of care to reduce the need to utilize more expensive resources. This creates opportunities for newer technologies such as telemedicine and mHealth, but also creates new challenges from legacy government regulations and a lack of new reimbursement models.

  4. The Rise of Consumer Advocacy. Internet technology, social media, and the availability of health information together with very high deductible health insurance plans, create a new type of patient, called “the educated consumer.” Consumers will be spending more of their own money on health care, making them much more careful and aware about procedures and service levels. They increasingly have the ability to shop and compare technologies as well as providers and costs, and communicate with other consumers about their perceptions and experiences. Device manufacturers and service providers in particular will need to position themselves accordingly whenever possible, and create new methods of helping healthcare delivery providers and other customers compete in the new consumer marketplace.

While each of these four influences is evolving, much of the impact is already affecting patient care and the bottom line for many healthcare companies. No matter your business, everyone in this industry must become aware of and prepare for these influences. Strategic focus today will help you Stay #TopRight, and enable your organization to be ready for these changes when you need to be. The market is evolving quickly.

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