A report by PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) is projecting a 6.8% increase in medical cost growth in 2015. The report notes that this increase is due in part to consumers who postponed non-essential medical procedures or treatment during the recession. Although the growth year over year is just .03% (HRI estimated growth of 6.5% for 2014), it raised eyebrows because growth had slowed significantly since the recession that began in 2008.
Smart healthcare marketers will take note of how the recession has altered consumer preferences and buying decisions, including medical care. Curated content leveraged via owned media should play a big part in overall strategic plans moving forward, given that these media allow healthcare marketers to start conversations and control the messaging on a micro level. Marketers will also look to integrate content marketing efforts with CRM platforms, as well as paid and earned media efforts.
Act II in Affordable Care. In 2015, a new provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will tie physician payments to the quality of care they provide, which will put a large emphasis on value over volume. Physicians will see their payments modified so that those who provide higher value care will receive higher payments than those who provide lower-quality care. For the past several years, marketers for healthcare plans and providers have tailored messaging to individual consumers and increased content marketing, allowing them to communicate outcomes and performance.
According to a December 2014 survey by Contently.com, marketing companies have earmarked nearly a quarter of 2015 marketing budgets to content development and management. Marketing companies are also considering lifetime customer value (LTV) as a measurable metric, along with traditional ROI, which indicates that marketers are looking to build relationships with consumers via content platform experiences and owned channels.
Throw Out ‘One Size Fits All’ Marketing Strategies. With new provisions of the ACA coming into effect, marketers need to also bear in mind regional differences of state health insurance marketplace types being offered as part of the ACA. Marketers that are already adjusting and customizing their messaging to targeted groups are one step ahead of the rest of the pack.
To give you an idea of the breadth of marketplace types, there are 27 states offering federally facilitated marketplaces, 14 states offering state-based marketplaces, seven states offering state partnership marketplaces and three states offering federally supported marketplaces. Creating engaging, relevant content targeted demographically and geographically will become more and more important as consumers survey the new healthcare landscape and the many available options. Marketers will also need to help plans and providers build and sustain long-term relationships with smaller, targeted audiences, rather than creating ephemeral interactions.
A Retail Mindset for Consumer Healthcare. In 2015 we will no doubt see the increased “retailization” of healthcare. In fact, this trend has already begun to develop. In October, Walmart launched Healthcare Begins Here, an in-store program designed to educate customers on health insurance options, in partnership with DirectHealth.com, an online health insurance comparison site and independent licensed health insurance agency.
The world’s largest discount retailer has also hinted that it will create a model that offers primary care via retail clinics and specialty care through the Centers of Excellence program, which Walmart offers to its employees. Walmart boasts both wide access — there is a Walmart store located within five miles of 95% of the population — and big data in the form of transactional customer data. Expect Walmart to help usher in the retailization of healthcare on a large scale. Healthcare marketers that embrace this new retail-focused mindset will be well positioned to guide clients’ strategic direction.