Healthcare reform makes marketing more critical

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Whether you were for it or against it, the “Affordable Care Act” is likely to affect every part of your business. But smart marketing can help you and your company stay ahead of the game.
Because the law requires Americans to have health coverage, as many as 32 million more Americans will be added to the country's insurance rolls when the law is entirely implemented in 2014. Healthcare providers need to begin thinking about how this sweeping new law will affect their bottom line.
The biggest short-term challenge will be increased competition. A number of provisions in the new law are designed to improve access, giving consumers more information about what coverage is available, and at what price. What does this mean for healthcare providers?
I see three critical areas for expanded marketing efforts:
Retaining existing patients. If private practices want to successfully compete against larger or less expensive groups, they need to market to retain and grow their patient base. Providing quality care will no longer be enough; paying attention to the overall patient experience will be more important than ever before. Get to know your patients and use this information to a marketing advantage.
Attracting newly insured patients. Marketing yourself to stand out among your competition is imperative, especially for smaller private practices. As with the first group, your marketing should no longer be just about patient care, but also about the customer experience and the extra services you provide.
Luring patients from other providers. In addition to the newly insured patient pool, tens of millions of consumers will now have the opportunity to change providers. In addition to delivering and marketing an exceptional patient experience, distinguish yourself by being a reliable resource and expert. Use innovative tools and mediums you may not have previously tapped to be a trusted source consumers can rely on.
Navigating through this landmark change in US healthcare will not be easy, but it will be imperative for survival and success. Putting a little more time, effort and money into marketing now will pay big dividends when healthcare reform is fully under way.
Paula Yakubik is managing partner, MassMedia Healthcare Marketing
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