PEST Marketing Analysis and value proposition are required in understanding the complexities of marketing in the health service industry. By conducting an evaluation of political, economic, social, and technological factors that affect health services, the process to uncover the future marketing needs can be addressed.
Political includes the climate surrounding health services such as governance and regulations. In terms of marketing, the health services would highlight possibly cultural health concerns in order to target specific groups of people. The political review would take a look at private vs. public health services and how they are financed. For example today political structure stand to gain benefits by entering the market. Now there is the Government Health Care Reform, and will be new requirements of every American to get health services or pay a penalty, Rhoda Weiss, (2010).
The ability to manage a health care services successfully in recent years has become increasingly difficult. There are so many great challenges that threaten the outcome of running a hospital or other health service facility. Added to the competition of other comparable services are now several new levels of complexity that appear to come from every direction and multiple industries. For example there is Government Health Care Reform that demands lower costing services according to Weiss (2010). The introduction of many technological services that cut out many traditional services through information technology. The collaborating of physicians to form their own independent health services. The ability of patients to gather information on their own about ailments and seek out competing treatments or demand better services. The fact that patients are now informed enough to 'shop' for second and third opinions and decide which health service meets their needs. Not to mention the ongoing impact of new medical treatments and other advances that the health service professional must remain educated and cognizant of through continuing education.
All this while realizing that the tools used in the past to market health services are not as effective. In fact television ads, radio, billboards, and news print are being ignored because they fail to differentiate health services. This is a time of increasing competition while at the same time consumers expect more from the health services they receive says Institute of Medicine (2006). How then can health service organizations differentiate themselves in order to compete. There are several ways that this can be done in today's challenging health service market through specific areas that will gain consumer confidence.
First, the consumer or patient experience is of great importance in today's social marketplace. Here is why the consumer has more access to health data. The speed with which science and medicine are progressing is more than most health servicing agencies can keep up with. Add to this the increased spotlight on health and wellness initiatives along with the government and community pressuring for lower costs yet provide a quality service reports Institute of Medicine (2006). The accountability required by health services is increasingly apparent with all of the oversight of stakeholders who have multiple opportunities to withdraw investments if there is no growth. Perception of these stakeholders presents a constant reminder of how important the health service experience of every consumer has become.
Health service providers realize that the industry is facing tremendous transformation. As demonstrated quite clearly the economy in the U.S. has faced increasing pressure since health service demands dropped during 1995 to 1999. The challenge has gone to the state and even the federal level that struggle with health care budgets and expect reforms starting in 2010 to help with the growing cost of Medicare says Porter (161: 2008). It is well understood that increased revenue for health services relies on the ability to give a positive experience to every single stakeholder from the consumer to those investing in the health service agency. One of the top researchers Forrester Studies has given the consumer experience as one of key components needed for long-term residual success reports Porter (2008). According to Forrester Research (2007). They based the ability to measure perception and word of mouth to revenue and trust as a brand that can position health services to reach marketing goals and objectives. Consider this if a patient does perceive that the health services given are meeting their needs they can report this to others through word or mouth and will most likely not return. This means more revenue for the provider.
During all of the changes caused by health care reform at the national level, Cynthia Sucher, who is a vice president in marketing at the WinterPark Memorial Hospital.
speaks on the importance of sharing information with the public about how to budget their health service dollars. The focus is also on preventative care and live a healthier lifestyle remarks Diamond (2011). The financial imperative to make healthier choices and reduce repeat health services is becoming increasingly apparent to the employers and employees alike states Diamond (2011).
Preventable, recurring disease has become a key factor in the escalating cost of health care. As more information is released about the Health Reform on a National scale, the level of accountability will affect the amount of dollars allocated for repeat health services. No longer will a fee for service be allowed, but the health service dollars will be based on an episodic payment. Meaning the economic emphasis will shift from "serving sick people to keeping people well," Diamond (2011).
Health service providers must realize what consumers wants and meet the demand (Stoker. Communicating with consumers through proactive social contact in marketing is necessary to bridge the gap between health service providers and employers (Stoker. Next meeting employer needs is paramount to get the cooperation to pay for employee care otherwise employers will continue to reduce their level of participation in health services. Employers are asking for a hassle-free health service benefit system that offers quality service for a reasonable price, and with few employee complaints" according to Eliscu (.
It is obvious that negative publicity was a problem in a traditional setting, but in today's market of social media, digital downloads, and instant messages, bad press can be disastrous for health service agencies.
Secondly it is important to stay focused on the health service that is being provided to the customer. Keeping the main objective of the health service at the forefront of the staff and marketing program will help to identify the niche health service being provided. This differentiates one service from another competitor. It is important for the service provider to reflect the organization's mission. Whether it is a community health service or an entrepreneur facility reaching out to serve the homeless. Whatever the mission, marketing must reflect the vision of the organization and project a specific message for which it stands.
The mission must also have a customer focus that highlights the benefits to the customer or meets a customer-based need.
Thirdly, a health services organization must be willing to share access to information about the organization. Customers should feel that they can reach the company and contact someone who can answer any questions or resolve any issues quickly and to their satisfaction. The Internet has allowed customers access to more information than be absorbed and this is new to the health services industry. The health industry has to adopt an open approach to sharing certain information that is new and fosters trust and releases some of the secrecy behind certain health practices. The Internet has allowed customers to uncover hidden agendas and empowers customers to many problems with various medications for example. This is a reality that health service firms must face in adapting more "honest relationships with customers" says Diamond (2011).
In fact health service firms have some unique problems relating to how knowledge is shared. Use of the Internet and social media is something that health service organizations must learn to deal with. However they must not just implement these media resources but continually measure and evaluate their effectiveness (See figure 1).
It is time for health service firms to realize that social media is here to stay. By refusing to be involved in this opportunity to reach customers they are simply cutting themselves out of a very lucrative area in terms of market share. Social media is an excellent way for patients and family to keep in touch with one another and it is time for the health services to get involved in these conversations.
Consumers are educated and tech savvy enough to find answers on their own. They expect honest answers and factual information (Accenture, 2007). Firms willing to openly share information are preferred to those that withhold data.
However there are risks associated with sharing information. There are no solutions available yet today's market climate calls for transparency. Sharing good and bad feedback for example, may be difficult for a health service firm, however it shows trust and a willingness to be open with the public.