Whether you were for it or against it, the “Affordable Care Act” – the expansive new federal law that will dramatically change the face of health care in the United States – is likely to affect every part of your business. But smart marketing can help you and your company stay ahead of the game.
By: Paula Yakubik – @pyakubik
Because the law requires Americans to have health coverage, as many as 32 million more Americans will be added to the country’s insurance rolls when the law is essentially entirely implemented in 2014. Although most major provisions will not take effect for more than two years, health care providers need to begin thinking about how this sweeping new law will affect their bottom line.
The biggest short-term challenge will be increased competition. A number of provisions in the new law are designed to improve access, giving consumers more information about what coverage is available, and at what price. What does this mean for health care providers? The smart ones will step up their marketing to distinguish themselves from their competition and demonstrate the value and service they provide.
I see three critical areas for expanded marketing efforts:
- Retaining existing patients. If private practices want to successfully compete against larger or less expensive groups, they need to market to retain and grow their patient base. Providing quality care will no longer be enough; paying attention to the overall patient experience will be more important than ever before. Get to know your patients – what they value in your practice and what they’d like to see changed – and use this information to a marketing advantage.
- Attracting newly insured patients. With the Affordable Care Act adding millions to the health insurance rolls, marketing yourself to stand out among your competition is imperative, especially for smaller private practices that want to thrive in this new world. As with the first group, your marketing should no longer be just about patient care, but also about the customer experience and service you provide.
- Luring patients from other providers. In addition to the newly insured patient pool, tens of millions of consumers will now have the opportunity to change providers. It will be important for your practice to stand out so that it can attract patients who are shopping. In addition to delivering and marketing an exceptional patient experience, distinguish yourself by being a reliable resource and expert. Use innovative tools and mediums you may not have previously tapped – including social media – to be a trusted source consumers can rely on.
Navigating through this landmark change in U.S. health care will not be easy, but it will be imperative for survival and success. Putting a little more time, effort and money into marketing now will pay big dividends when health care reform is fully underway.
(Originally published in MM&M – June 2011.)