Anyone following news coverage of healthcare in the U.S. might think that landscape is all about “Obamacare.” – the reform effort whose first phase is to extend insurance coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. But the second phase of this hotly contested legislation is now in play – reforming the healthcare delivery system. The playing field is changing – opening opportunities for companies from across the globe.
Historically, the United States has been virtually alone among Western nations to have its health insurance system based on employers, instead of as a universal franchise. Consequently, those who were not employed, underemployed, or without funds to buy into a company plan found themselves without coverage. Their recourse was often to delay or avoid care because of the cost, or depend on public assistance which was limited to the very poor and usually substandard to the care middle class Americans could access. Either option helped increase healthcare costs as well as worsening the individual’s health status. The initial phase of the ACA (Affordable Care Act) has succeeded in extending coverage to nearly 18 million previously uninsured Americans, a major step forward to achieving better healthcare for all.
Now, the Administration has announced that phase two of the legislation is to reform the healthcare delivery system. Over the past decade, incentives have pushed the adoption of electronic medical records so that the extremely fragmented system of healthcare providers is becoming connected, fostering better healthcare decisions with real time information.
The term “accountable care” was coined to help define a new approach in American healthcare, in which healthcare providers and payers took specific responsibility for the health outcomes for populations of patients. In a broader sense, it refers to a focus on producing better overall health outcomes, in contrast to the current fragmented fee-for-service system that is frequently blamed as a driver of higher costs. How well healthcare providers are doing in delivering on this promise reveals opportunities for improvements and business opportunities in healthcare.
Findings from a recently released Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP)-sponsored Nielsen Strategic Health Perspectives survey show how far the American healthcare system has to go to be able to deliver on the promise of accountable care. It surveyed 30,007 U.S. consumers and 626 physicians and found that only half of patients are experiencing the benefits of coordinated care and only about one-third have 24/7 access to care outside of the emergency department. The report also finds slow progress in the use of health information technology to connect doctors and patients.
While there is still controversy and opposition to some parts of the legislation and uncertainty over the outcome of November’s Presidential election, companies and entrepreneurs have in the past few years responded energetically to the opportunities for innovation in healthcare today.
According to CB Insights, the digital health industry reached an investment high in 2015, with nearly $5.8B infused into startups. That is more than six times the funding in 2010 – which was a modest $952M in comparison.
Today and in the next few years, the business opportunities within this revitalized healthcare sector include:
- Tools for better management of disease and patient compliance
- Technological innovations to connect data and providers and patients
- Programs and tools for lifestyle change to avoid the onset of disease
- Technologies for personalized medicine and more accurate diagnosis,
- Medical tourism, as Americans continue to fight the high cost of healthcare and prescription drugs
Marketing products and services in the U.S.
It may be a cliché, but the U.S. remains a vast marketplace consisting of a base of relatively homogenous communities sprinkled with highly diverse pockets of ethnic minorities. The U.S. consumers differ by age, by economic status, and by geography. The sheer size of the country is often underestimated, as are the budgets necessary to execute a successful marketing campaign.
American communications channels are also vast. Increasingly, they are monolithic. News media outlets are shrinking and most consumers get their news and information online and through mobile devices. Social media and digital communication has taken the lead in reaching consumers. Even most CEOs in the U.S. use social media today.
A blend of digitized and traditional “earned media” communication tactics, and paid advertising and content, is the most effective method of marketing to both B2B and B2C audiences. For B2B audiences, channel distribution partners can be a very effective way to market a new product or service.
Careful analysis should be undertaken to determine the most appealing marketing message, the “first movers” to convert who can be your evangelists, and the role of earned media, paid media, owned media and shared media.
Marketing within the U.S.
Over the past decade, the United States has increasingly morphed into a mobile-dependent society, relying on online and social media for communication needs. Consider the communication landscape in the United States:
- Results from a 2015 study showed that 68% of Americans have smartphones, up from 35% in 2011. For 2016, the number of smartphone users in the United States is estimated to reach 207.2 million.
- Nielsen recently found that Americans spend 121 billion minutes per month on social networks.
- In a study conducted by Cision in 2015, fifty-one percent of journalists polled reported that they would be unable to do their job without social media.
- According to a new study by Pew Research Center, News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016, 62% of all Americans now get news from social media.
- According to a Nielsen survey, in 2014, U.S. adults spent an average of 43 hours and 31 minutes per month connecting with content through an app or mobile web browser.
It’s important for firms considering marketing in the U.S. to understand how Americans also use social media for B2B decision-making.
- A 2014 global study, conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) and sponsored by LinkedIn, indicates that North American buyers are the most likely to use social media for purchasing and the most likely to say it brings confidence and credibility to the purchase process.
- The same study revealed that 83.3% of North American B2B buyers relied on social media, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook to assist with company purchasing decisions. Comparatively, 77% of European (Netherlands, France, and the U.K.) and 65% of Asian Pacific (Australia, New Zealand and Singapore) B2B buyers reported using social media in making purchasing decisions, respectively.
- The U.S. B2B buyer tends to be influenced by “people like me.” The 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets -North America report indicates that 58% of B2B marketers surveyed cited case studies as an effective tactic in their overall marketing strategy.
Given these facts about how decision-makers in the U.S. gather and evaluate information in making purchasing choices, firms launching products and services in the American marketplace must:
- Realistically estimate the resources required to establish reputation and win market share.
- Identify channel partners who can make the appropriate introductions and open market relationships
- Develop marketing campaigns with the correct balance of traditional earned media, social media, influencer marketing, owed media, and paid media.
In summary, the healthcare marketplace in the U.S. is an opportunity for innovative companies who can meet current consumer and business needs, and who understand the importance of a strategic approach to communication and marketing.
Joy Scott ist President/CEO unserer Partneragentur Scott Public Relations, einer seit 28 Jahren bestehenden Agentur für PR und Marketing, die sich auf die Themen Gesundheit, Versicherungen und Technologie spezialisiert hat. Dabei arbeitet Scott Public Relations sowohl für US-amerikanische als auch internationale Kunden und ist Mitglied des internationalen Agenturnetzwerks PRBI. Mehr Informationen zur Agentur gibt es auch auf ihrem Blog Einsight.
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