While healthcare trends may seems stagnant, this is far from the truth. Currently healthcare is seeing more game changing trends than in any point in the history of modern healthcare—including trends that will stand to impact the way you will market your practice or the hospital you practice. Here are 4 such trends.
1. Consolidations and Merger & Acquisitions
According to the Medical Group Management Association, between 2005 and 2008, hospital-owned medical practices rose from 25.6 percent to 49.5 percent. In addition, in the last year there has also been a rise in new doctors becoming salaried employees in hospital-owned practices. This is the first time they have surpassed the number of new doctors who joined physician-owned medical groups.
Hospitals aren’t alone. Large healthcare systems are also acquiring previously independently owned hospitals. For marketers, this means you’ll need to familiarize yourself with how to communicate with larger healthcare systems in order to provide value to your patients (i.e. you need to make your value proposition very clear).
2. Growth in Consumer Driven Health Plans
Employers (both large and small) are changing the way they use defined contribution plans (like HSAs and HRAs). Over the course of enrollment, however, these programs will become more selective in their healthcare spending. In addition, healthcare programs are also trying to entice more insurers and medical practices to work with businesses to develop better (more beneficial) wellness programs for their employees.
3. Physician Referrals
Although more consumers are learning about physicians via word of mouth, the major driving force will continue to be physician referral. You can use email for referring, but consider a Physician Relationship Management (PRM) system.
4. Power to the People!
Don’t overlook the power of social media. For good or bad, consumers often turn to social media to figure out their healthcare decisions. For example, people share their experiences at their doctor on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks with their friends (and complete strangers). With so much attention paid on social media, your practice should have a presence online. Furthermore, you shouldn’t overlook smaller social sites like Angie’s List, Healthgrades and Yelp!.
For those practices that are forward-thinking, embrace the digital media change and actively manage their online presence, they can generate a positive online communication. This will not only allow you to speak easier with your current patients, but will also help to attract new ones.