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At the recently concluded Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit in Orlando, we had the chance to meet professionals in the industry while hearing insights from the likes of Seth Godin, David Meerman Scott and Eric Siegel. Presented by the Healthcare Strategy Institute, this year's summit focused on uncovering new opportunities, strategies and best practices for marketing and physician-relationship professionals.

During the summit, we had interesting conversations with attendees about the issues that matter to them. We interviewed every professional that came by our booth, and these three float to the top of the list as the most challenging in their transition to a value-based service model:

  • Recognize what our patients need from us that they currently aren't receiving
  • Determine how to best increase our Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores and understand why they have dropped
  • Understand the gap between the internal perceptions of our brand versus the external (patient) perception

We also asked people why they attended the summit this year, and their responses mirrored the themes of the various challenges mentioned above. Here are 3 business questions that prominently came up:

  1. What are the latest interactive strategies and new media shaping the healthcare industry?

At the summit, 67% of professionals we talked to singled out interactive strategies & new media as a particular topic of interest. These professionals were curious about the other services, tests or procedures patients would like to see their practice to offer. Another professional wanted to know the factors - both technological and otherwise - that impact a patient's decision when choosing a hospital, health plan or clinic.

It's really no wonder that many organizations in healthcare want to stay ahead of the technological game. Technology is disrupting many industries, and healthcare is no exception. Review sites and social media buzz empower patients with more information than ever. Tech is elevating patient expectation.

In a previous study, we learned that reputation and expertise are top factors for patient loyalty in healthcare. That's why the challenge for healthcare professionals is how to use the latest technology to establish their credibility and amplify word of mouth. Having a long-term relationship with a patient community is key in keeping your pulse on new technologies that people rely on to find healthcare providers.

  1. How can I improve customer communication and engagement?

Patient loyalty is critical for many healthcare organizations. That's likely why 60% of people we interviewed were at the summit to learn more about customer communication and engagement.

In fact, one of the top questions people wanted to ask patients was "what can we do to make you loyal?" This and other similar questions ("How can we make your experience better?") point to the need for a deeper understanding of patient expectation and the drivers of a good patient experience.

In our experience working with leading healthcare providers, we know that adopting a patient-first mentality provides insight on better patient care. Doing so requires more than one-off surveys: Patient communication today means getting feedback frequently and in different aspects of your business - but also sharing back with patients how their feedback is making an impact. Listening to a large group of patients in a community setting can provide a more accurate picture of patient loyalty.

  1. How can we improve our strategy?

Of the people we talked to, 60% were at the summit to learn more about strategy. These healthcare professionals were looking more holistically and were thinking about their businesses' overall strategy and where the industry is going. "What is your perception of the hospital system?" was one question that healthcare professionals wanted to ask patients. Some healthcare providers were also wondering about the role that the healthcare system could play in helping patients stay healthy, not just during times of sickness but throughout a patient's life.

As is the case in many industries, improving a healthcare organization's strategy begins with the customer. By infusing the voice of the patient in all aspects of your business - from marketing to IT to patient care - healthcare organizations are in better position to craft a strategy that meets the high standards of patients and that build relationships over time.

Customer relationships are important, but even more so in an industry like healthcare where organizations deal with matters of life and death. Talking directly to healthcare professionals at the Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit, we learned that in many ways, healthcare is tackling the same issues as most businesses: these organizations care about thriving in the shifting landscape, improving customer engagement, and driving strategy.

All of these hot button issues facing healthcare can evolve into opportunities as long as professionals in the industry understand them from a patient's perspective. But budgetary restrictions, resources and timing hinder healthcare providers from ongoing customer engagement. That's where patient insight communities come into the picture. Just like over 650 organizations globally that currently use insight communities, professionals in healthcare should enable their organizations to have real-time access to their customer population. To ensure that efforts won't become dead-end projects, listening deeply is an important first step.

Diagnosing Disruptions: De-Risking Decisions in Health Care’s Digital Age

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