Marisa Deline, Oncology Roundtable
While private and public payer reimbursements tighten, hospitals and health systems are turning to a new approach to drive increased profits: targeted marketing to the highest paying patients.
A recent report from Kaiser Health News and USA Today examines this phenomenon.
Targeted marketing involves mining patients’ health and financial records, as well as buying detailed information about local residents compiled by consumer marketing firms. This information might include age, income, marital status, family composition, and shopping habits.
For health systems, advertising health screenings and other services through targeted marketing helps to sell the most lucrative services, including cancer, heart, and orthopedic care.
An estimated 20% of health care organizations, including academic medical centers and large chains, have adopted some form of targeted marketing to high-paying patients.
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My colleague Jared Landis in the Marketing and Leadership Planning Council has been doing some research around how hospitals use social media. (For a past blog post on social media, click here.) His team recently put together a list of cancer organizations that are using social media to build online communities. While the list is by no means exhaustive, it's helpful for any organization that is looking for ideas for how to get started - or step up their efforts - with social media.
Hospital led oncology social media efforts
The selection of resources below details select hospital social media efforts specific to oncology service offerings. In many cases cancer center leaders maintain multiple social media pages.
Boston, Massachusetts-based Dana Farber Cancer Institute staff maintain social media pages for both general oncology and institution information as well as an affiliated foundation, available here
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We recently received a request from a member for any information we had on social media in cancer care. While we've been tracking the issue we hadn't formally pulled our thoughts together, so we thought now might be a good opportunity as this is a hot topic not only in oncology, but across health care.
Across the past 18 months, Advisory Board research staff have closely monitored the development of hospital social media efforts. At the core of this trend is a growing desire among consumers to access health information via online resources, including web 2.0 avenues. Two studies quantify this trend nicely. The PRC National Consumer Perception Study, published last year, indicates a gradual increase in consumers' use of the internet to research health related issues, climbing from 32% in 2000 to 49% last year in 2009. Page 54 of the study goes into an in depth discussion of how the web is changing health care relationships, helping hospitals creating an ongoing relationship with patients via the use of patient portals, social networks, blogs and quality and pricing communications. Some data help quantify this trend. Of consumers that use the internet to gather healthcare information:
- 18% state blogs or posted comments have an impact on their physician or hospital choice
- 28% use the internet to find doctors
- 12% use the internet to register for health and wellness classes and
- 7% are a member of a healthcare online community
Granted, these aren't huge numbers, but they indicate there is an opportunity for hospitals to leverage the internet to access potential patients.
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