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Marketing of Cancer Services Must Include All Payer Modalities

Marketing of Cancer Services Must Include All Payer Modalities

SAN DIEGO--Today when almost all payment and delivery models co-exist
in every market, marketing approaches to cancer care services
must respond to all payer models, including managed care and fee-for-service,
said Karen M. Gilden, a senior consulting associate with Oncol-ogy
Associates, Inc., Warrenton, Va, and the editor of Cancer Management.

"One of the biggest challenges of health care marketing today
is stretching marketing budgets to meet the different buying models
presented by the 'old' payment system as well as the new managed
care model," she said at a symposium sponsored by the Society
for Ambulatory Care Professionals and Health Technology Assessment
of the American Hospital Association.

"Some experts say that when 30% of employers in your area
are operating on capitated contracts, it is time to switch marketing
strategies from the old environment to the new," Ms. Gilden
said, citing Terrence Rynne's work Healthcare Marketing in
Transition
.

She acknowledged that this approach begs the obvious question:
Is there a role for marketing to consumers in a true managed care
environment? After all, if everyone is locked into a set of providers,
to whom would you market? Ms. Gilden insists that marketing remains
important, citing the work of Eric Berkowitz, a marketing expert
at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the author of
the 1996 book Essentials of Healthcare Marketing.

"Berkowitz believes that, eventually, all surviving systems
and all providers will once again be open to all users. The operative
word here is 'surviving,'" Ms. Gilden said. Berkowitz notes
that employers are increasingly edgy about restricting choice,
since workers believe that quality comes with choice. Consequently,
the current environment of limited choices is probably going to
be a transitional phenomenon.

What Consumers Want

If managed care isn't a significant portion of an institution's
business, marketers need to keep in mind how individual consumers
choose a hospital. In his latest book, Rynne lists the most important
consumer criterion as the perception of quality physicians on
staff.

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