If you think about digital advancements, specifically in terms of the healthcare online experience, a friend-or-foe conundrum exists. “Shopping around” for a new provider or seeking out a medical specialist has become nearly as accessible as deciding upon a new brand of washer/dryer for your laundry room. Ease of access becomes a friend for patients but a potential foe for health systems.
Certainly, there’s a consumer component to be considered when addressing patient leakage, yet much of the work to keep cases in-system has to start “at home” with your physicians who are on the frontlines with those patients. Targeted, personalized email is the best way to connect with physicians who are sending patients elsewhere.
The Friend-Foe Component of Data
You can’t get to personalized messaging without segmenting your physician audience, but segmentation isn’t the whole story. In a recent Forbes.com article, Wilson Raj notes, “Segmentation is a tactic; personalization is more strategic.” His point is that segmentation techniques can evolve to personalization approaches, but only with the right data.
Ease of access becomes a friend for patients but a potential foe for health systems.
In the same piece, contributor Banks Wilson qualifies the “right data” by stating, “An abundance of data, even good data, is meaningless without being able to translate that into actionable strategy.”
Essentially, the two are untangling the friend-foe component of data—in this case, your physician email list—and what you do with it. High-quality data can be your friend, because it allows you to get to a level of personalization that can really make a difference. It becomes your foe when you’ve paid a pretty penny for it but aren’t applying it in a way that produces results.
Good Data and Personalization: Friends Forever
When looking at physician-based referral leakage, there are a number of reasons patients are referred out of system. Generally, the big two are lack of awareness about services offered in-network and simply falling into old habits. This is where data and personalization can meet up to solidify their “friendship.”
Even good data is meaningless without being able to translate it into actionable strategy.
Data: We talk a lot about “high quality” data, which means, first and foremost, it comes from a reputable source. Proper sourcing is your physician list foundation and ensures you are reaching intended physicians at their preferred email addresses. Then, layers are applied. The data must be robust—first name/last name is not enough. To truly personalize, you need details like geographical location, specialty, case mix, caseload, and referral patterns. And, this information needs to be updated in real time.
Personalization: With a comprehensive profile, you can really start to speak to physicians where they are at that moment in time. You come to understand which physicians are referring out, how often, and the ratio of in-network to out-of-network referrals.
High-quality data can be your friend.
While Banks Wilson is weighing in on consumer behavior in the Forbes piece, his final statement makes a powerful argument for hospital marketers as well.
“The most effective personalization does not tell a consumer something they already know about themselves—it tells a consumer something they didn’t know."
Physicians know they’re referring out; you don’t have to tell them. Bringing attention, in a highly personalized way, to what they didn’t know—such as all the patient care opportunities that exist within the network or why in-system referrals contribute to the hospital’s overall growth potential (and thus their own)—has the most influence for keeping cases in-system.
The data must be robust—first name/last name is not enough.
Remember, your docs are the ones in direct, daily contact with patients. If you can engage them with meaningful messaging and relevant reasons to consider in-house options, you’re well on the way to expanding your health system’s friendship circle.