These days healthcare marketing has its hands full. From the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to retiring baby boomers, 2014 is going to be a year of significant change. Here are 5 significant trends we think healthcare marketers need to get their arms around:
1. Simplifying Obamacare
After a rocky launch, the rebooted Affordable Care Act popularly known as Obamacare is off and running. The product mix has been tweaked. The online user experience has been ironed out. And the loyal opposition is still ready to dismantle the whole kit and kaboodle.
But here are the implications the ACA has on healthcare marketing. To begin with, it represents an entirely new competitive landscape with some 80 added market entrants, from newly authorized co-ops to provider-sponsored plans to expanding Medicaid managed care companies. Add to this a pool of completely bewildered consumers. In an ACA marketplace defined by personal responsibility, it is the consumer who now has to be able to navigate a complex world of benefit and healthcare decisions. It is estimated that some 7 million people will be newly enrolled through the variety of government marketplaces. The healthcare marketer that can successfully equip these consumers understand and negotiate the nuances of this major reform will carry the day.
2. Managing a growing healthcare population
With the advent of ACA, millions of high-risk, previously uninsured healthcare consumers will bring all their unmanaged illnesses and woes into a variety insurance and medical care systems. Last year alone, healthcare providers doled out $41 billion in uncompensated care. Now these same providers must figure out how to optimize payment levels and deal with these capacity challenges. The release of this pent up healthcare demand can potentially create a vast flood of patients for hospitals, doctors and neighborhood emergency care centers. 2014 is likely to see a growing number of retail clinics and doc-in-the-box operations to match this onslaught. With this added competition, strategic positioning, specialization and repositioning may prove the order of the day.
3. Focusing on healthcare quality
Critics of the ACA have long warned of the potential for a degradation of healthcare quality. However, the opposite may actually turn out to be the case. It appears that healthcare providers are actually putting more skin in the game. ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) will continue to emerge, tying provider reimbursement to the quality of outcomes. Today there are 488 such organizations currently accessible to an estimated 40 million medical patients. With this seismic shift, healthcare marketing may become less image and lifestyle focused and more metrics oriented. Awards, accolades and certification organizations may grow to assist in this rush to measurements and evidence-based care.
4. Appealing to the boomers
Despite all the hype, 2014 is not just about Obamacare. An aging population, greater focus on wellness and new technologies are creating a total healthcare sea change. The aging baby boom is at the center of all this. In the next 5 years 17 million baby boomers will turn 65. Today they account for $3 of every $4 spent on healthcare. Because of the size of this formidable demographic, healthcare marketing must not fail to underestimate their unique needs and desires. The aging of this group will produce a need for more long-term care facilities and the recruitment of more healthcare workers. This is the group that famously brought us the Me Decade of the 70’s, the conspicuous consumption of the ‘80s and the patient-centric model that is emerging in healthcare. This is a generation that has been in the driver’s seat for the last 6 decades. They aren’t about to get out from behind the wheel yet. Cater to them and everybody will be happy.
5. Making healthcare marketing mobile
From boomers to millennials, the mobile device is playing a bigger and bigger role in healthcare marketing and transactions. In 2014, more and more people are going to expect their healthcare to be at their fingertips 24/7. From digital ads and eblasts to SEO, healthcare brands must assuming their messaging will be viewed on a small screen. A healthcare website needs to be responsive and mobile friendly. No big files to download. No small type.
This will definitely be the year that our healthcare marketing will need to rise to the occasion. So make sure your healthcare brand is on the bus, not under it. To hear more of our healthcare insights call us toll free at 866.642.7559.