Healthcare reform is alive and well at U.S. hospitals. That seemed clear from the recent Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) conference in Chicago.
Ironically (and perhaps symbolically), the conference dovetailed with the first day of enrollment for the online health insurance exchanges. Two back-to-back education sessions on Oct. 1 discussed the ins and outs of the exchanges and what they might mean for hospitals. (Some key takeaways for hospitals, according to the second half of “Maximizing Profitable Growth in the Brave New World of Exchanges”: Assess readiness of your delivery system to manage the influx of patient population; recognize the diversity and potential for profitable growth with these newly insured audiences; and identify opportunities for payer partnerships and a health plan product development that positions your network for different market plays. For more on this and other presentations, visit shsmd.org.)
Of course, as regards to the exchanges, there are more questions than answers (and perhaps more pessimism than optimism) at this point. But if the sessions were any indication, hospitals all across the country are engaging in progressive, new ways of thinking about patients, payment and policy. A session on population health discussed this new concept — a complex delivery model that stands for a set of programs and tools to manage risk. In a nutshell, it means proactively defining a population and proactively providing services.
There were also several important seminars on accountable care organizations (ACOs), another still-new idea in healthcare that involves integrating care at all levels and guiding patients through care transitions. This concept, along with terminology such as “pay for value,” “culture change” and “medical homes,” indicate that healthcare is indeed undergoing a transformation, and hospitals are responding to national trends and movements in healthcare.
What does this mean for hospital marketers? It’s important to stay in touch, not only with what your hospital is doing but what is happening in your market and in the industry as a whole. It is not news anymore that this new world of healthcare is about keeping costs down, providing value as opposed to services and improving care transitions and communicating effectively with patients. Some would argue it’s a golden opportunity for marketers to reach out and know their current and prospective patients and serve them as valuable customers.
We look forward to hearing what you think.