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‘Healthcare Marketing: What is Salient? ’ was written by Mary J. Kay from School of Business, Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, USA. The purpose of the research is to develop a perspective on what is “salient” or critical to the discipline of healthcare marketing by analyzing and contrasting the consumer perspective with the organizational perspective. Based on the research report, in a complex institutional environment there is an existence of healthcare marketing. The difference of healthcare system in organizational and business structure significantly affect many priorities.
In healthcare system, marketing significantly affect it. Thus, marketing are important and can play a role in the healthcare system – it provide the healthcare service and at the same time aiding the health information for consumer. The healthcare organizations usually will face many types of marketing problems due to organization and technology issues; and changes of health problem. So, this research discussed about the salient issues that are faced by healthcare marketing practitioner through contrasting it with consumer or patient perspective to the organizational perspective.
From the consumer viewpoint, healthcare issues are important for them. The salient issues are framed in terms of cost and quality. The consumers are depending upon ‘trusted experts’ to evaluate the quality of the health services. The consumers need the quality of health services since they do not have any knowledge regarding the quality of health services. In their health decision, they are reluctant to accept lower quality of health services. Thus, critical or life-sustaining care should never be perceived by healthcare organizations because if they do, it will put a risk to organization’s reputation.
For many critical treatment choices, consumer or patient always confront a lack of accessible of information to decide which brings the most benefits for them. In addition, there are many advanced technology that made new choices in testing that contribute to further decision dilemma. Also, choice is increasingly constrained by increasing in health insurance plans or national health programs. Thus, consumers need assistance to understand the critical components of medical care and regarding their decision. The pricing of the healthcare services is usually frustrating from the consumer perspective.
High billings are especially troubling to the consumer or patients. Without a doubt, the quality, cost, and effectiveness of healthcare systems are complex interrelated matters that are difficult to understand. From the healthcare organization viewpoint which also involves doctors and staff, they are the ones who work harder to provide quality service, armed with medical knowledge and faced changing medical procedures. Quality is the main healthcare organizational priority but priority can be manifested differently in different healthcare organizations.
The problems in fulfilling the demand of quality are difficult. There is some way that improving healthcare quality which is the doctor can be guided by good scientific practices which can be called as ‘evidence-based medicine’. But, there is a problem regarding this because of complexity of medical knowledge. Another way to improve the quality of healthcare services is by scientifically weighs the efficacy of differing treatment regimes. Through the system, the doctors are compulsory to utilize scientific databases that provide accurate information as to which treatments are working or not.
Next, the quality priority shift due to technology advance. By advancing technology, the health priorities change as the root causes of health problems and new health threats come to light. Marketing for healthcare organizations is only managing the perception of quality by responding to customer satisfaction concerns. But, organizations also need to optimize real health outcomes. The quality of healthcare organizations needs to be understood in the scope of rising costs and changing treatment regimes. There are many issues related to medical industrial complex or can be describe as medical system.
Firstly, issues according to positioning and resistance to change. ‘Affordable care’ is now the marketing buzzword used to justify any new ways in healthcare. This ‘affordable care’ is proposed by the government or politician. As the players in the medical system increased, it’s hard to change. The importance of strategies to develop a political consensus among the fragmented players in the healthcare system is apparent. As institutional processes and bureaucratic procedures become entrenched, healthcare systems are even more difficult to change.
As a consequence, healthcare marketing, especially the type that would usefully improve health outcomes has become complicated by systemic problems due to the structure of the healthcare system. Next issues are about systemic problems. The systemic problems of healthcare can be examining through spending figure. Healthcare costs are higher due to the wage requirement. As an example in United State, the doctors are paid much more than their counterparts in other countries. Medical test and procedures are employed more frequently.
USA is the major profit centre for pharmaceutical companies, who are able to price their products higher due to any lack of price controls. As medical costs are shifted to hospitals, the effect is to raise costs to other services as the burden is shifted to paying customers. As the cost is rising, it leads to many effects. The effects are health insurers and health management groups do not necessarily improve the overall the efficiency of the healthcare system. Market solutions are not apparent when it comes to healthcare.
Thus, there is a dilemma in health reform. In the prospects for healthcare marketing, it has certain important contribution. There are two broad healthcare marketing problems which are relevant that would stand a chance of improving healthcare. The first is the important problem of consumer access to information that would improve patient healthcare decision-making. The second is the problem of the organizational diffusion of information which providing better access to “evidence-based medicine” to improve healthcare practice.
Better publicizing treatment information and setting standards could improve healthcare and the role of marketing to positively affect health outcomes through promoting awareness of disease prevention measures is highly important. Some changing also may lead to the cost and organizational problems. Target marketing, specialization and fragmentation are important in maximizing health outcomes. The discipline of marketing provides tools and techniques for companies to profitably target consumer segments.
Certain healthcare organizations have been able to profitably and effectively maximize the quality of outcomes for particular patient groups and in the process, have become increasingly specialized. However, as the healthcare system grows fragmented and specialized, issues of both cost and quality have been raised. Through DTC advertising and new marketing concerns, the educational quality of DTC can motivate discussions that enhance visit efficiency, patient/physician trust, patient satisfaction, or health outcomes.
They found that while consumer attitudes are largely neutral, physician are usually negative, being distrustful of pharmaceutical promotions. There is new challenge in healthcare marketing. But, there are also ways to facing it. Public awareness of marketing campaigns can have an important impact. Given the behavioural aspects of many health problems, however, promotions alone can have limited effectiveness. Persuading people to change behaviours is a much more difficult problem than informing them about risks.
Moreover, funding for better health awareness needs to be reconsidered as a public spending priority. Consumers (and their employers or insurers) make healthcare decisions within quasi-market system, and better access to salient healthcare information is clearly needed. Organizations clearly need to critically review treatment delivery systems to avoid mistakes and improve quality. Both consumers and healthcare organizations would benefit from more transparent systems to support healthcare decisions.
The marketing challenge in healthcare is to develop and sustain better healthcare relationships for consumers. In my opinion, the marketing in healthcare systems is very significant due to its important role in providing the healthcare service also aiding the health information for consumer. In addition, healthcare organizations usually will face many types of marketing issues and problems as organizations, technologies health problem keep shifting and changing. The healthcare industry should engage in new thinking in understanding about their customers.
They should find inspiration from other industries by scrutinizing the competition, health reform, consumer demands or the way they get to know their customers, moving beyond basic transactions and embracing their patients. Several service industries outside of healthcare are helping shape healthcare consumer experiences and expectations. Today’s technologically savvy consumers prefer to do their own research when selecting a doctor, investigating treatment options, and making major health care decisions. Targeted marketing also enables organizations to tailor communications to each stage of the member relationship.
By identifying customer needs and be more prepared for the challenges and focused on raising the benefits of the healthcare services would markedly result in customer satisfaction and loyalty. Such situation can be illustrated by the recent big news when famous actress Angelina Jolie announced in a New York Times op-ed article on Tuesday 14 May 2013 that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning that she carries a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which sharply increases her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. She signifies the empowered patient by deciding to be proactive in her health decision making!