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To Accelerate Health Care Transformation, Put a Spotlight on Virtual Health

Oct. 2, 2019

Health & Pharma

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Todd Foutz, Vice President 

The phrase “health care transformation” was heard everywhere at September’s Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD) conference in Nashville, Tennessee. But the most compelling presentations focused on virtual health: a fundamental catalyst for that transformation. Better marketing — both internally and externally — can help unlock the enormous potential of virtual health.

The conference had an unmistakable emphasis on health care transformation. In sessions on topics from consumerism to branding to data management, health care leaders spoke about the broad spectrum of groundbreaking change underway in the industry. Perhaps the most consequential presentations showcased the role of virtual health.

There’s no shortage of virtual health success stories. Paul Cohen, One Medical’s vice president for strategy, presented his firm’s virtual health credentials and achievements, making the case that virtual health is the new front door of health care today. And several presenters noted the role of virtual health and telehealth initiatives in digital transformation.

Even before the conference, the American Hospital Association Center for Health Innovation released a report outlining nine areas in which telehealth is expanding access to care, seven use cases of telehealth making a difference for both providers and consumers, and one powerful argument about why telehealth and virtual health are critical to health care transformation overall.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of virtual health’s value for providers and payers, we still haven’t seen large-scale adoption of virtual health in health systems. Several health systems represented at the SHSMD conference weren’t touting their efforts in virtual health as part of overall health care transformation. And no session took a comprehensive, deep dive into the delivery of virtual health today.

Health system marketers can help change that.

Harnessing the power of the health care marketer

One of the keynote speakers at the conference, Dr. Zeev Neuwirth, noted that “the marketing mindset is underused throughout health care.” Let that sink in for a moment. Marketing leaders have the power and the tools to transform health care, and many, like Dr. Neuwirth, believe they are underused.

Case in point: A recent survey by J.D. Power, reported in FierceHealthcare, found that “only 17% of consumers are aware that their health system or insurance provider offers telehealth or virtual health services as an alternative to a doctor's office, hospital, emergency room or urgent care clinic visit.”

At Reingold, we believe that the disconnection between virtual health and health care transformation can be bridged by the efforts of health care marketers in hospital systems. And elevating the role of virtual health can be a catalyst for the transformation that the industry has been talking about for so long.

By giving the marketing team a seat at the table on virtual health implementation, health systems can create and execute:

  • Change management strategies to gain buy-in from health care providers and create a road map for internal adoption of new technologies.
  • Marketing strategies to engage consumers and build comfort with using virtual health systems.

“Digital is not an IT initiative. It is cross-functional, and you should invest in change management for transformation.”

— Dr. Peter Rasmussen, Cleveland Clinic

Awareness. Education. Brand enhancement. These are all areas where today’s health care marketers work to bring internal teams on board while aligning hospital brands and services with the needs of the communities they serve. Within these focus areas, health care marketers can open greater access and advance their systems’ transformation by educating internal and external stakeholders about virtual health technologies and programs.

As an example of the importance of marketing, Dr. Peter Rasmussen noted in his session that Cleveland Clinic invests up to 50% of its advertising budget in awareness of virtual health.

While there is no single strategy or a one-size-fits-all approach to transforming health care, Reingold believes in the power of change management and marketing to blaze that trail. And we have had success along the way.

As noted by Tory Williams, one of our leaders in virtual health communications, in her recent article, “We not only create marketing programs directed at health care consumers, but we also focus on the entire continuum of care — supporting health care providers, administrators, and marketers in transforming health care.” Contact us to learn more about proven strategies to do it.

Reingold’s team includes leading experts in virtual health marketing and patient engagement. To learn more and speak to one of our virtual health experts, email healthcare@reingold.com.

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