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Mitigating Risk in Healthcare Marketing

Background Description
This principal topic covered in this video presentation is the matter of risk as it relates to the expense of marketing in the healthcare industry.  The idea that marketing and advertising are synonymous terms seems to have been held by many in the healthcare industry during the past.  This view has definitely not been completely abandoned even in present days. “Although marketing involves a great deal more than advertising, certainly this was the activity that epitomized marketing for many in healthcare during this period.  Marketers themselves contributed to the perpetuation of this notion, and even today many health care executives equate marketing with advertising” (California, 2008, p. 8).

Marketing was not embraced in the healthcare industry until long after it had been proven to be effective in other economic sectors and even at this time it is not very enthusiastically accepted by some.  “A number of concerns related to the cost of marketing played a role in the slow incorporation of marketing practices.  Marketing (again, primarily advertising) was seen as an expensive proposition” (Thomas, 2005, 36).

In healthcare the prevailing perspective was that marketing should not be thought of as an investment; rather, it should be seen as simply as an expense.  “Unlike other industries, healthcare has viewed marketing as an expense, not as an investment.  The lack of knowledge of marketing, and its potential impact, has lead health professionals to consider marketing at best a necessary evil” (Thomas, 2005, 37).  Some of this point of view, particularly on the parts of physicians and hospital managers, was a result of an absence of experience with marketing which was not the case with some in the overall industry.  “While more commercial operations like pharmaceutical companies saw marketing expenses as a normal cost of dong business, hospitals and physicians with no previous experience in this regard suffered sticker shock from the marketing price tag” (Thomas, 2005, 36).

Another problem among healthcare practitioners was that they did not have the necessary capacity to evaluate the return produced by marketing activity.  This made it difficult for them to appreciate the effectiveness of a marketing program. “There was and still is concern in healthcare over the return on investment that marketing can generate.  While most industries have well developed mechanisms for measuring the return on their marketing investments, healthcare does not” (Thomas, 2005, 37).

The video addresses the concerns healthcare professionals might have both about marketing in general, the expense of marketing, and the use of effective marketing techniques in order to contain any inordinate risks that may be involved.

Principal Objectives

After a viewing this video, the individual should have a basic understanding of the following highlights:
                • Healthcare in the 21st century is, in and of itself, an area with risk
                • Advertising expenses are relative to the practice or organization
                • There are methods of mitigating the marketing expense risk
                • Using effective marketing strategy is a means of reducing marketing risk
                • Marketing can add value to a practice or organization
                • The importance of evaluating marketing program results and outcomes

Overview Discussion

The video challenges several positions held by some in the healthcare arena about marketing.  Of particular interest is the cost or expense objection to marketing.  While costs can be considerable when it comes to programs operated by some very large concerns, that is not necessarily the case or the best type of approach for an individual healthcare practice operator or a hospital.  The expense concern is recognized in the video; especially, where other than an effective, modern approach is taken.  Accordingly one learns from the video, “It does turn out that marketing the old fashioned way, the sort of spaghetti method way of just throwing things up against the wall, can, in fact, be brutal.  It can be extremely risky.  You can burn through a lot of cash very quickly.”

Nevertheless, it is possible to limit the risk associated with marketing expense by means of more up to date techniques.  The video presents a method referred to as the Results-Based Marketing System consisting of four components.

                1. Learn from the experiences of others
                    • Marketing academia
                    • Corporate America
                    • Case studies
                    • Data

                2. Follow a well designed marketing plan
                    • Branding
                    • Internal
                    • Doctor referral
                    • Internet
                    • Publicity
                    • External advertising

                3. Effective implementation
                    • Action plan
                    • Process/systems
                    • People

                4. Evaluate results
                    • Test and track
                    • Measure ROI
                    • Assess
                    • Make adjustments

[Note:  The Results-Based Marketing System and the four components of the system have been taken from the video itself and appear here as points of reference helpful to any viewer.]

Summary

The video is an interesting presentation by one of the founders of Healthcare Success Strategies which is in the business of providing healthcare marketing services.  The main points of the presentation are (1) that marketing can be costly but those costs can be controlled by means of an effective system, (2) a marketing program that is functioning properly will add value to a practice or organization by increasing patient volume, and (3) it is not necessary to enter the market place with an excessive or especially large marketing budget; rather, begin sensibly, evaluate results, and make adjustments as necessary.

Video Access

The video presentation, “Medical Marketing - Is It Risky?” may be viewed by accessing the following direct link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4t3B5Kh8ko

The video was developed by Healthcare Success Strategies, which according to its Internet site “[...] is a full-service marketing company that serves healthcare organizations of all sizes, including medical practices, hospitals, dental practices, manufacturers, pharmaceuticals, and other healthcare organizations and practices (Get Help, n.d., para. 1).  The home page of the company’s Internet site may be accessed by using the following address - http://www.HealthcareSuccess.com

References

California InterContinental University.  (2008).  Interactive Learning Guide: 
        HCM 625 Healthcare Marketing - Tools and Techniques. Diamond
        Bar, California:  CalU Press.

Get Help From One Of America's Leading Healthcare Marketing Companies.  (n.d.)
        Retrieved from Healthcare Success Strategies website August 9, 2011.  http://
        www.healthcaresuccess.com/about-us.html

Thomas, R. K.  (2005).  Marketing Health Services.  Chicago, Illinois:  Health
        Administration Press.

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