Racing to Wellness: The Wellness Spectrum

January 1, 2013

// By Susan Dubuque //

susan-dubuqueThis article is the first in a series on the role of marketing in the face of a changing health care environment.

As one of the keynote speakers at the recent Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development annual conference so aptly put it, “Today’s health care marketers are standing with one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat.” The foot-on-the-dock analogy describes the traditional fee-for-service model. In this world, marketing efforts are directed at growing volume and market share and seeking a more favorable payer mix. Here marketers are standing on a solid, stable surface, where they feel comfortable and grounded. However, marketers teeter precariously when they try to balance in the boat rocking alongside the dock. There they face a future of value-based purchasing, population health management, and – ominously – a resurgence of capitation.

In the midst of all this change, health care organizations across the country are racing to stake their claims as champions of wellness. They shout, “We are no longer dedicated to treating you when you’re sick or injured. Now we are committed to keeping you well – and out of the hospital.” The unspoken words: Like our financial lives depend on it.

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So what should marketers do? How do they calm the frenzy and help their organizations remain focused and smart? How do they support the existing reimbursement model – which makes patient acquisition the imperative – while laying the groundwork for a time when organizations really will live up to the mission of “improving the health of their communities”?


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