041 | Three Factors Influencing Every Healthcare Provider | Studio CMO
The Episode in 60 Seconds
Healthcare has always been tumultuous. However, two contemporary problems and one evergreen challenge are blocking your path to greater impact. On this edition of Studio CMO, we will explore the factors and the opportunity you have to press into the market despite them.
- COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
- Primary Care Provider Access
- Price Transparency
Want to know more about how to identify the problems your buyers are facing and how to connect you solution to them? Schedule a no-obligation chat today. Gain the clarity you need to press into your year.
Two Types of Healthcare Providers
Progressive health systems and providers are innovative and are looking for ways to seize the moment and grow. More often, progressive institutions are more financially stable.
Reluctant health systems and providers are more likely than not to be struggling financially and tie their success to existing modalities.
COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
The Biden administration is prioritizing retail clinics over hospital sites for vaccine distribution.
Progressive providers want to seize the moment. They know that people will remember where they received their shots. Progressive providers want to create experiences related to the vaccine distribution and don't appreciate the shift.
Reluctant providers are grateful in the shift to retail.
Questions your provider prospects may be asking?
- “How do I solve the scheduling issue?”
- “What do I do with my reluctant population? How do I change them from reluctant to willing?”
- “How do I better reach communities of color who (a) disproportionately affected by this and (b) hesitant to get the vaccine?”
Primary Care Provider Access
Reluctant providers are facing lean times and are relying on higher margin issues this neglecting primary care which is top of funnel.
Progressive providers are looking for solutions and trying to solve these problems:
- “How do I make sure my patients have access to clinicians?”
- “How do I overcome the clinician shortage, especially in rural America?”
- “How do we handle all of the questions and concerns of our patients?”
- “Besides paying for healthcare, one of our biggest struggles is getting our patients TO our office/hospital and getting them HOME. How do we juggle this, too?”
Reluctant providers are expecting to pay the fines and take the hit because they can't gear up for this fast enough and are worried about the financial implications and media relations problems that will come with posting their prices.
Progressive providers are looking at the opportunities to market their doctors and procedures and want simple tools to publish.
Questions to answer:
- “I don’t have the data to provide standardized pricing to my patient population.”
- “How do I know whether or not to post consumer-friendly or machine-readable postings related to price transparency regulation.”
- “Our patients can do [fill in the blank] at the places they shop; why can’t they do it with us?”
- “My reputation will suffer because as soon as my rates are posted, they will be perceived as the most expensive around.”
Each of these questions demonstrates a need for a greater understanding of buyer needs. Do you know how to connect what you do to your buyer's problems? Our proprietary system called The Buyer Matrix can help. Schedule a no-obligation discussion to discover how a full Buyer Matrix can help you grow your business.
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John Farkas (00:01):
Getting the attention of the healthcare market right now is an incredibly challenging endeavor. There is so much conversation right now around lots of different elements that are facing health systems are facing payers that are cluttering, that are stopping up all of our channels right now because of the change that is happening in our systems. It is a loud space. We talk about it all the time and you have to know if you’re marketing into it, you have to understand what are the conversations that are going on and look for ways that you can join them. We’ve identified three primary conversations happening right now. We’re going to talk about what those look like and how if you’re looking to enter the conversations with some things that you need to know about the ecosystem as it sits today, that’s what we’re going to dive into today on studio CMS.
Mark Whitlock (01:12):
Welcome to Studio CMO. You’re listening to the podcast that helps healthcare technology companies communicate better to make better decisions and to market to their primary prospects. John Farkas, our host, you just heard from him is here today. John, welcome from the frozen Southland.
John Farkas (01:31):
It’s cold out there, Mark.
Mark Whitlock (01:34):
And my co-host Anna Grimes is joining us from an undisclosed location where it’s a little warmer.
John Farkas (01:38):
It’s warmer there
Anna Grimes (01:41):
Just a tiny bit, John. Yes. Well, I’m glad to be here from sunny, Florida with 34 degree temperatures.
Mark Whitlock (01:50):
it’s snowing on the beach. No, yeah, that’s good.
Mark Whitlock (01:58):
John, you teased us about three different conversations.
John Farkas (02:00):
I wasn’t teasing, I was serious.
Mark Whitlock (02:06):
Different conversations that we’re going to investigate today. And these are ones that, what we’re hoping is that marketing leaders will be able to identify problems more carefully and ask the right questions as they move their health tech products deeper into the market.
John Farkas (02:23):
Yeah. We’re going to be focusing on healthcare providers today and there’s so much going on in that landscape right now, as we continue to battle COVID and what we know and what Anna is very fond of saying is if you’ve sold into one health system or to one provider, you sold into one provider or one health system, they are, they each are very unique. They have very interesting contexts that they’re dealing with and they’re, you know, unique communities, unique systems, unique competition. And so that landscape for many of them, it varies. So the first thing we have to look at as we’re thinking about what is going on right now in the market, obviously COVID is taking up a lot of space. And if we’re looking at what is happening right now, it’s the vaccine rollout. How are providers getting involved in bringing the vaccine forward to their communities?
John Farkas (03:18):
It’s a major issue that has lots of people scrambling right now. And if we look at the reluctant versus the progressive continuum, you know, right now the Biden administration is prioritizing retail clinics over hospital sites to help reach as many people as possible. And so the more reluctant hospitals are saying, God, great, that’s great. Take that burden away from us. We’d rather focus on other things right now. And you have the progressive institutions that are saying, we want to be able to administer the vaccine. We see this as a positive thing for our brand. People are gonna remember the moment they got their vaccine and what that felt like to them. The relief that was that’s going to be a positive brand association for us. And we want to be able to lead our community in that way. We want to be able to serve them because we also see it as a very close tie into our primary care. But regardless, there is a huge mound of logistics right now about how to administer the vaccine.
Anna Grimes (04:25):
Scheduling as you referenced before, is, is definitely an issue right now. We do have a supply demand issue, but it’s looking more and more like that’s going to even out. And so what that’s going to surface are two other issues. And one of them is how do you get the reluctant population? Those who are unwilling right now to take the vaccine. So how do you address vaccine hesitancy among your population? Right? And the second is how do I reach communities of color who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and who may be hesitant to receive a vaccine because of historical issues surrounding vaccinations in previous arrows.
John Farkas (05:11):
So it is, it’s a major communications thing. So if you have a solution, if part of what you’re trying to market and bring the market has some patient engagement component to it, linking your value proposition to anything pertinent to the vaccine. Rollout is certainly an opportunity and understanding that the issues surrounding that are occupying a lot of space right now, it is the fire alarm going off. It is really critical and something they are actively recognizing is important. And they’re not just seeing this as a short term issue. So if you’re, if you’re talking to more progressive institutions, they’re the gap. They have engaging their communities and trying to come up with ways from automated frameworks, from AI empowered, intuitive solutions, they’re trying to figure out how can I better engage and lead my population in ways that are going to help us. The next time we face a situation like this, how are we going to be prepared to engage in care for our community? We have to get those systems into place. We have to work to develop the systems. Now that will allow us greater mobility and the ability to be nimble and responsive in these situations. So that is all stuff that isn’t top of their mind right now that the vaccine rollout and COVID have surrounded with them with an heightened, their awareness of it.
Anna Grimes (06:50):
John, you alluded to that this is a historic moment. And I might even pick up on that point and say my crystal ball, it’s very important that they engage, particularly in terms of getting their folks vaccinated. So I don’t think this is an issue that’s going to go away because we are going to see particularly these progressive health systems. I would wager they’re going to be looking at ways lessons learned from this vaccine rollout and want to then go and apply those for the next vaccine rollout. So this may be a window of opportunity to address some longstanding vaccine hesitancy issues and really get their population engaged in understanding the longitudinal benefits of other vaccines as well.
John Farkas (07:40):
Yeah, certainly what is emerged is a higher, a more acute awareness in the general public about public health. We are seeing our co-dependence our interdependence on one another in a way that we never have before as modern Americans. And so that is transformed our community’s understanding. It’s taken a giant step forward and pertinent. It’s certainly an opportunity for systems to lead. And if your solution has some modality that allows them engagement, that’s an important thing to pull forward. That’s an important thing to help them understand. That’s an important conversation to inter as you’re looking at getting the attention of health systems and providers, they want that modality.
Mark Whitlock (08:30):
So John, how does the health tech marketer craft messaging related to the vaccine without seeming opportunistic or, or tone deaf? How do they move into this discussion at a time like this? Yeah, it’s important to keep in mind.
John Farkas (08:47):
You may not have a solution that directly is related to the vaccine and vaccine rollout. That’s okay. And so it may not be about crafting messaging. It might just be about entering the conversation, you know, understanding that that’s where they are. And so it could be creating content around some aspect of the vaccine rollout program that is related to your solution. It may not have a direct tie. It may be a parallel tie. If you can offer value, if you can bring point of view, if you can enter the conversation. So they click on something in your world because you’ve demonstrated a savvy and an understanding that is a value. And so you start a conversation with them and bring them to a better spot than they were. Then you have the opportunity to move into more conversations that are related directly to your solution.
John Farkas (09:46):
It’s about being generous with your content. Not every piece of content has to directly tie to your specific value proposition. You’re living in the healthcare ecosystem. You have a point of view. You have some perspective that you’ve mined in many cases deeper than something that your buyer may have perspective on. And so being generous with that perspective and trusting that you engaging them and having the opportunity to ha start that conversation. It may not lead to something right away, but it just extends your color cloud. It extends your brand presence into the world that they’re living and engages them. That’s important to know. And that’s why we’re talking about this. So vaccine rollout is certainly a critical link. Another one that I just want to bring out here is primary care access. And it is very tightly linked to vaccine rollout. I mean, we’re talking about issues that are how people are going to engage their populations with what we would consider in the marketing world.
John Farkas (10:54):
Top of funnel people, you know, primary care access is not about the high ticket items that, that are highly profitable for health systems. But again, the more progressive health systems are going to look at primary care access and recognize that that is the top of their funnel. And there are a lots of issues clouding the primary care conversation right now, primary care doctors and primary care providers are being inundated with questions. Their front desks are getting calls all day long about the vaccine about symptoms, about do I need to come in and get seen? Do I need to come and get tested? Are you a rapid test center, or do you do the test? That’s going to take awhile to get results back and they’re getting killed on
Anna Grimes (11:42):
Absolutely. And the need for effective patient engagement solutions coming from the health tech world is going to be even more to them. And you’re going to find a far more willing audience than perhaps you did before. Those kinds of things that help automate scheduling and help ensure that. And again, we’re talking about primary care appointments, sort of building off of the vaccine rollout. If you can get someone in to your system to get that vaccine. And then you can also use that as John referenced for that health system, it becomes almost like the primary care physician becomes the top of the funnel. And that becomes the conduit through which you can build a relationship with this patient and this consumer and their family, but you need to make the experience that they have as seamless as possible. And you need to have it match with the kinds of experiences that they’re used to when they go to a football game or when they go to get a cup of coffee.
Anna Grimes (12:50):
Uh, one that we looked at that was really interesting has a solution that says text us. When you get to the parking lot for your position appointments, then we will collect your copay via text so that when you come into the office, you’re spending as little time in the office as possible. And I would wager while this was a solution that was developed as a result of COVID and to prevent people hanging around in waiting rooms for too long, I will wager that those are the kinds of things that will remain after the COVID avalanche, I guess, subsides. Also, if it’s being a parking lot, goes to transportation access, there’s a lot of opportunity for, um, technology solutions that can help providers address the transportation gap that exists with a lot of their populations. And that actually even goes back to John’s point about how we’ve understood that COVID really is our wake up call to how important and interdependent we all are when it comes to keeping a population healthy.
John Farkas (13:59):
Yeah, it is a lot about convenience and access. This is all about the consumer driven movement that we’re seeing right now in healthcare. And what more progressive institutions are looking at is how are we going to set up our systems to support a much more nimble, a much more approachable, a much more accessible engagement framework. People have to be able to get to us, you know, if they’re online, they need to be able to get to us in a meaningful engagement quickly, and that is getting increasingly important. And so that engagement in what, and the shape of that and how that looks is essential. Right? So think about that. You know, how does your system facilitate that aspect of how they’re attaching to their communities? It’s super important when we’re looking at what this next wave is, meaning what they’re confronting the ability to get that top of funnel activity and not lose it to some of these alternative, the competitive entities that are entering the market right now that know consumers that get it, that have systems and frameworks in place that make it easy. That is a muscle that, that providers existing providers have to develop super quickly in order to maintain their patient population.
Mark Whitlock (15:30):
And those are opportunities for health tech companies to modify in their product development, or to find new ways in there, but also to look at what they have now and meet needs.
John Farkas (15:43):
And again, entering the conversation, not being afraid to say, let’s talk about primary care access, right? You know, so many health technology aspects have some aspect of access associated with them. There’s some aspect there you are in the ecosystem right now around access. Know that that meta issue is re ally front and center for a lot of these systems and the ability to engage in those conversations fluently and meaningfully is going to help you enter the conversation. And the last that we want to bring out is maybe the big, hairy gorilla. That’s kind of waiting in the wings right now, ready to jump up and down the locomotive down the tracks. And that is price transparency. It just came into law January, and it is, uh, kind of waiting right behind COVID to just really be a major issue for a lot of health systems.
Anna Grimes (16:45):
And while many are playing the, uh, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, what I would encourage all of our listeners to do. And I think Mark you’ll link it in the show notes, but go to the cms.gov site and read the final rule. And what that means really what we’re talking about is the first major effort to standardize the price of healthcare, common health care services in this case 300, I think so that consumers and patients can go out and begin to see what, what something actually costs. And right now the big issue that healthcare providers are facing. And this is just not just big hospitals, but it’s also physician practices and all points of care is they do not have the data, the tools or the expertise to communicate pricing. I mean, it’s just that simple. The rule says, you’ve got to, you’ve got to either put it in a consumer friendly format or it has to be a machine readable format.
Anna Grimes (17:55):
Now the progressive, uh, hospital systems health systems are probably gonna try to do both. And they already probably have as, as John referenced systems of record that allow them to do that. But for other systems, they are going to lean heavily on folks who have a health tech solution that can allow them to not just standardize their prices. They realize that’s an internal issue, but to communicate those in a way that patients and consumers can feel like they are speaking to a institution that is trustworthy. And I think it even goes back to what was said earlier in today’s program about the fact that you need to be willing as a health tech solution or a health tech company, to be able to speak the language of that health system, not just with empathy, but with authority, you need to let them know that you understand not just their pain points, but their entire ecosystem.
Anna Grimes (19:05):
It’s a big, hairy monster sometimes, but health care folks are going to smell a lack of understanding from a mile away. And you’ll never get that chance back. If you don’t try to get right up into their field of expertise and really get to know your buyer and what their needs and pain points are. It’s probably more important than health care than any other place, because we’re still talking about a fairly small addressable market, but right now they are poised to listen to you. If you’ve got a solution that helps price formularies, or just simply communications tools that make it easier for them to get this information out to their consumers and patients.
John Farkas (19:52):
So one of the crazy things about price transparency is not only eventually for end users to be able to shop, but you know, what’s the price of a hamburger, you know, do you want fries with that? I mean, we have all sort of issues coming down the pike with price transparency, and that puts the provider at risk. Doesn’t it, John, there certainly is risk in this. There’s a lot of factors that these, uh, healthcare providers are weighing right now. And right now is when it’s happening, how are we going to balance the impact of this? You know, there are plenty of systems right now that are saying, we’re going to take the hit we’re, we’re going to take the penalty. We’re not ready to do this. There’s a, we know we’re going to be get skewered. Um, and we’re using terms like hamburger and skewered in healthcare, which we should just not do.
John Farkas (20:44):
Um, um, but you know, we’re, we’re gonna, we’re gonna take a major hit reputationally when the, this happens, because we know that we have some pricing on a number of our procedures on a number of what we offer that is not going to play well in the market. And so we’re going to, we’re going to just, you know, we’re going to take the penalty, not do it for right now. And, uh, and try and figure this out. Um, it’s a reputational issue, right? And progressive institutions are working really hard right now to figure out how are we going to do this? Well, how are we going to weather the storm? Um, and, and put ourselves in a position where we stand to win in the market and with our communities, the more reluctant ones are saying, we can’t, it will cost us too much right now.
John Farkas (21:35):
And so we’re going to take a more, a reluctant tack, which says, we’ll take the penalties. We’re going to try and, you know, move into a damage control mode for a season while this all shakes out. It’s a major her issue that is in some senses way over overdue. I mean, I can’t tell you in the last two years, the number of surprise bills I’ve landed with in my little healthcare journey. And it’s a problem for a lot, a lot of people, it needs to happen. You know, there’s no doubt about it. What also needs to happen is as you’re engaging with your prospects, understand that this is it’s going to be a millstone for a lot of the people that you’re talking about. They are trying to figure out what they’re going to do about it. And if your solution does touch it, you know, talking about that, figuring out, you know, suggesting ways that they can help make this a better experience and bring that forward is a great conversation right now, but just know that that’s a lot of what they’re facing.
John Farkas (22:42):
Again, this comes down to no who your customer is. We talked about the front end of this conversation. There are two major divisions here. You have progressive institutions, progressive, uh, providers that are leading the charge into the horizon and are saying, we want to be able to put some of these things in place and engage our community. A level that we’ve never done before. Better, stronger, faster is a big part of their modality. And we have the reluctant institutions and they’re reluctant providers that are just saying, Oh my gosh, I do not know how we can possibly climb this mountain right now. You have to know who you’re talking to. And, and I would say for most, so the folks listening that are marketing health tech, uh, opportunities, most of who you’re talking to is going to be on the progressive side of the continuum, but not all.
John Farkas (23:40):
There’s some of you that have solutions that are going to be better pointed at some of the more reluctant entities. You have to know who that is, because at the end of the day, you can’t talk to issues pertinent to reluctant buyers. If that’s who your solution is best positioned to, to meet their needs, that’s going to be how you address the market. If you have a solution to this, generally more focused on the progressive side of the continuum, you probably outta hat tailor your voice to a more progressive movement. And I think if you’re jumping tracks, it’s going to confuse your market. So make sure that as you look at how you’re addressing it, which side you’re going to fall on, because if your solutions better tailored to the reluctant side, figure out what that voice is, understand their pain points, figure out how you’re going to tailor that to focus on those needs. And if you’re, if you’re better suited for working with people that are on the progressive side, that continuum, then look at that horizon, help them understand how to blaze those trails and join them in that journey.
Mark Whitlock (24:50):
John, what we’ve done in, in looking at these three big problem areas and asking the questions that we’ve asked, that’s kind of what we do every day with our customers. We help them understand their buyers problems. That’s kind of the first phase of what we call our proprietary system called the buyer matrix.
John Farkas (25:10):
It’s really true. And we’ve been talking about this this week. It’s really important to have a very clear understanding of what those problems are and not just you, not just the marketing department, you have to have alignment with understanding those problems with your sales team, with your marketing machine and with the folks that are involved in the creation and development of your product. You have to have, uh, all three of those initiatives need to be moving together with a clear understanding of what people are facing in your market. Right now, it’s an evergreen process of looking at and reevaluating and asking and interviewing and updating how you are looking at those things. So you make sure that your North star doesn’t have any clouds in front of it, that you are moving together in the same direction, and you’re patterning your messaging. You’re patterning your product.
John Farkas (26:08):
You’re patterning your sales conversations with a clear understanding so that you have a unified voice. And we have a process that we have put together that does a great job of leading companies into that understanding and gives them a system that they can use to work consistently to keep that top of mind, to keep your organization unified and in a conversation that continues to hold that priority front and center. And if that’s something that you are missing right now, if there’s a lot it’s really common, you know, we see it very frequently that the company’s leadership and their understanding of the market is different than the marketing departments. Understanding that’s a slightly different than the sales department. Understanding is slightly different than product development, and sometimes vastly different. You can’t afford that lack of alignment. You have to be in lock step focused on your North star and where you’re going right now in the market. It is critically important. And if you’re lacking that alignment, we’d be happy to have a conversation on how you can overcome that obstacle. So don’t, don’t hesitate to reach out
Mark Whitlock (27:22):
And come on over to studiocmo.com/041 that’s studiocmo.com/041. That’s the show notes for this edition. And you’ll find more information about the Buyer Matrix. You’ll find an opportunity to put an appointment on John’s calendar, to talk more about it for your company. We’ll also link out to some resources that we’ve highlighted related to these three big areas of patient access of the vaccine rollout and about price transparency. So if you’re looking for deeper reading on these issues, we encourage you to come on over to the show notes studiocmo.com/041. And the topics that we’ve been discussing today, these three key items, these three key questions came out of us living out the three tenants that we talk about every episode on Studio CMO. First of all, to truly understand your buyer’s problems,
Anna Grimes (28:14):
lead with an empathetic understanding.
John Farkas (28:16):
and make your buyer a vaccine rollout, a primary care access and a price transparency hero.
Mark Whitlock (28:25):
We’ll see you next time. Studio CMO is shaped by golden spiral and agency providing market positioning and demand generation for health tech. We help healthcare technology companies establish and communicate their unique message to the right decision-makers realize your market potential contact golden spiral. Our music is provided by some of Nashville’s hottest studio musicians. You make up Human Music, a BMG production music company. Find out more at humanmusic.com.