Understand consumer preferences
Start with consumer preference data to understand what patients are looking for in a provider. Use the results from our consumer preferences survey for specialty and primary care to understand the top drivers of consumer choice and loyalty.
When we did this exercise with one of our member hospitals, we found that provider reputation was the top driver of choice for 60% of self-referring patients. This data point helped the hospital focus on strategies that would strengthen their perceived reputation, such as activating patient alumni and encouraging patients to post reviews, rather than allocating their resources to tactics and investments that patients don't value as much.
Audit competitors' performance on those preferences
Then, define metrics for measuring your competitors' strength in meeting those preferences, and score competitors. For example, if consumers list excellent reviews as their number one driver for self-referral, use reviewers' average rating on third-party sites as a metric to track how well your competitors are appealing to that preference. Keep in mind that you should weigh metrics based on their relative importance to consumers.
You can evaluate competitors in your current market to inform an existing facility's marketing strategy or in new markets where you're considering placing a new facility.
Combine preferences and performance to identify differentiators
Lastly, map each consumer preference onto a scatter plot. Importance to the consumer, measured by the mean utility score among consumers, should be along the x-axis, while the prevalence of appealing tactics among competitors should be along the y-axis.* Consumer preferences that fall in the bottom right quadrant are primary differentiators—they are highly valued by consumers, but are largely unmet by competitors. In the example market below, primary differentiators include advertised prices and an on-site lab. Knowing which tactics are most likely to make you stand out to consumers in your market, you can now conduct a feasibility analysis to further narrow down options and prioritize the tactics that are most likely to win you new patient consumers.
*Since many consumer-facing differentiation tactics, such as "affiliation with a notable hospital," cannot be evaluated by a simple yes or no when auditing competitors, we recommend using a scaling system to measure prevalence of differentiators. This way, you can give each of your competitors a score of one to ten for a given differentiator, and average scores across competitors to get the prevalence of the attribute in your market.