Let me start by making sure that you, the reader, know that the purpose of this blog post is NOT to debate the concepts of patient versus customer, and the perils of confusing the two. However one feels about the encroachment of consumerism in healthcare, it doesn’t mean that healthcare is so different that we cannot learn and exploit known marketing outreach techniques often targeted at the ”customer” in other industries. And just like Know Your Customer (KYC) in finance, Know Your Patient (KYP?) depends heavily on knowing every single fact at your disposal that could be relevant to the end goal you are trying to achieve. The optimal use of these facts is highly dependent on the data you collect and your ability to organize it into a coherent representation of everything you know.
Take for example, the siting of specialized facilities that your network is looking to invest for the future. One could take an educated guess and surmise that because there are other health related facilities in an area, yours would do well being nearby. But is that what a consumer focused company would do? No. They would first examine how many of their profile customers live in or around the area in question using market data. Then they would layer the demographics of people who currently travel past the location to determine the level of traffic they could potentially see and compare this to other favorably sited locations in their own experience. Balancing this with the cost of the prospective locations versus the expected traffic would then give them a set of comparative data that would then enable them to generate the likelihood of a locations success vs cost.
So, how does this apply to my patients and my siting challenge? We know who our current patients are, where they live now, and possibly where they have lived in the past. In addition, we know the locations in our current network where these patients tend to frequent. In cases where there may only be one location, it is simple. But if my patient consistently has choice in the network and goes in a particular direction, it tells us a lot about their habits and comfort level in travelling to certain areas of the geography. You can also supplement this data with general market data to understand if the areas you are considering have a high level of similar potential patients using demographics. And all of this information can help you make an educated decision on demand that will maximize the potential that your new facility or practice will meet the needs of the community you are serving balanced against the startup cost of the network investment.
Utilizing modern marketing techniques doesn’t end with siting. While we all love the billboards we have traditionally used to outreach to the community, there are other less expensive techniques that will open the door to dialogue with potential patients. Health fairs are always a productive way to introduce your network and the various services you provide. But the effective ongoing management of the list of people who expressed interest at the fair allows you to setup effective multi-touch campaigns that will often nurture these people and solidify you as their provider of choice.
And you can do all of this through the effective organization and harmonization of the data that drives your organization today.