Jul 18, 2013

5 Key Tactics for Healthcare Communicators Navigating Change

The Affordable Care Act is the most groundbreaking legislation in healthcare since Medicare and Medicaid. Business Development Institute’s upcoming event “The Future of Healthcare Communications Summit” on July 24, 2013 will address concerns regarding the ACA’s numerous provisions and shed light on the many ways that healthcare professionals can benefit from integrating digital, mobile, and social elements into their communication strategies. Keynote speaker Paul Matsen, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Cleveland Clinic, sat down with PR Newswire for a brief interview to discuss his highly anticipated presentation and what is in store for the future of healthcare communications.

Matsen’s presentation entitled, “The Affordable Care Act Challenge: Marketing Strategies for Success” addresses some of the difficulties that healthcare professionals will face once the new legislation has taken effect. These challenges include slow revenue growth, the shift from inpatient to outpatient care, the rising costs to consumers, and rising competitive intensity. Matsen describes 5 fundamental tactics implemented by Cleveland Clinic that have helped healthcare professionals overcome these obstacles and develop successful marketing strategies:


“As coverage expansion goes into place, health systems need to change how they are making themselves open and accessible to their target patient community and their community overall,” Matsen explains. One of the most innovative programs developed by Cleveland Clinic is called “Same-Day Appointments,” which gives patients the option of scheduling a same-day appointment any day of the week before noon.


Matsen believes that alliances are “A different way to think about growth without a lot of the constraints and challenges that sometimes exist under full mergers and acquisitions.” Some of Cleveland Clinic’s valued alliances include affiliations with hospitals for Heart & Vascular Institute programs and a national alliance with Community Health Systems – a large, for-profit health system with hospitals around the country.


Matsen also emphasizes the importance of “knowing who your core patients are as we move forward with the Affordable Care Act” and why are they important to the growth of an organization.


According to Matsen, “As we try to help patients manage health over the long term, we need to be engaged with them over time through communications, and this is where brands are becoming more important than ever in health care.” Engagement includes building a brand through owned media, earned media, and paid media to engage with customers and prospective patients from all over the world.

Branded Patient Experience

Cleveland Clinic has positioned itself as a thought leader in the healthcare industry by undergoing several major cultural transformations. “We had the first chief patient experience officer, we’ve just completed our third annual Patient Experience Summit with more than 800 participants, and we’ve seen a significant increase in both our patient satisfaction but also the engagement of our employees who we refer to as caregivers,” says Matsen. He also believes that building branded patient experience and aligning it with the caregiver experience is essential to driving success.

“People need to move beyond awareness,” Matsen commented, with respect to the future of healthcare communications. “Healthcare organizations need to move beyond just talking at their patients and really finding true engagement with their communities.”

Cleveland Clinic maintains an impressive social media following, with over 500,000 Facebook likes and more than 120,000 Twitter followers. For Cleveland Clinic, community engagement through social media has proven to be a valued resource not just when people are ill, but also for those who wish to maintain their health and want to learn more about the Affordable Care Act. Matsen anticipates that over the next year, digital engagement will continue to grow through mobile technology and become a trusted source of content for patients.

With the Affordable Care Act’s new focus on preventative care and early patient intervention, the need for effective communication between healthcare professionals and patients is critical. Embracing digital, social, and mobile technologies will provide a supportive environment for both patients and healthcare professionals as we all adapt to the historic developments within our healthcare system.

The event is sold out, however due to high interest, we’ll be recapping key points here on Beyond PR.   Watch this space for  a follow-up post on Matsen’s “Marketing Strategies for Success” as well as insights from additional keynote speakers.

Author Shannon Ramlochan  is a member of PR Newswire’s marketing team.

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