SHSMD 2023: Consumerism, Identification and Personalization

Healthcare marketing has long been considered stale—creatively and strategically. Legal concerns, traditional beliefs and privacy were seen as antithetical to the practice of marketing in healthcare.

However, the tide is turning in a major way fueled by technology, competition, and an increased understanding of the benefits it offers the clinical and operational experience.

I had the pleasure of attending SHSMD Connections 2023 in Chicago. Covid hangover and the state of health system budgets kept attendance down from the salad days of the early 2000s. But the content was strong, and the keynote speakers covered a wide array of topics.

The themes that percolated often and resonated the most were:

  • Consumerism – this has been a topic at the conference for easily a decade. However, the economy, consolidation and new players have accelerated the reality.
  • Identification – the first stop on the journey to personalization. How do we know these people are who they say they are and how do we build a rich profile around them?
  • Personalization – the content, the billing, the experience need to be built around them.

These pillars—consumerism, identification and personalization—are the foundation for an evolving ecosystem to bring patients, providers and systems closer together. And the infrastructure being built for those pillars is in part because it is the right thing to do. However, it is also due to the need for humane applications of technology to replace parts of the process where systems lack manpower or can no longer afford to employ it.

The good news is that as an industry we sit atop more data than just about anyone else. That means the transition to creating action from data can happen quickly and the impact can be dramatic. This isn’t about getting a coupon delivered at an opportune time—the industry is creating tools that improve lives while reducing the cost of care. Progressive systems are doing it well by customizing the experience down to an N = 1.

We cannot compare ourselves today to the old versions of ourselves. Nor is it enough to compare ourselves to other health systems. The consumer demands and deserves a level of technical interaction akin to consumer brands like Amazon or Venmo. The good news is if we can deliver that experience, there is share to win and loyalty to gain.

Here are 5 things to think about as you approach 2024:

  1. Who owns the consumer experience for your system?
  2. How do you make certain your C-Suite and your clinical team buy in?
  3. What do we know about our consumers, where do gaps exist and what is the plan to fill in those gaps?
  4. Do we have a “technology” stack that allows for the dynamic experience we desire?
  5. Is there a seamless integration to customer experience inside the walls and outside the walls?

To me, the important parts are to get the buy in and start the journey. The consumer expectation is always changing, so by definition, you will always be chasing this in some way. But – you know the answers to these questions instinctually – do you treat your patients how they want to be treated? Do you treat them well enough for them to be loyal? Well enough for them to get others to switch? Those are the questions you need to be asking in 2024 and every year thereafter. Someone is going to be doing this—it seems like it should be you.

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