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What Good Doctors Want

10 Ways Accountable Care Organizations Can Win the Hearts and Minds of the Best Doctors and Physician Practices

Mike Killeen teaches healthcare marketing at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. He is Vice President of Marketing at LENZ, an integrated marketing company that specializes in marketing physician practices, hospitals, and ACOs.

As anyone working in American medicine knows, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 initiated a tectonic shift in how healthcare is delivered. Healthcare providers are moving away from the old fee-for-service model that rewards providers for ordering lots of expensive tests, office visits, and procedures. And they’re moving toward an outcome-based model, in which compensation is tied to the health of individual patients and to the overall served population, as well as to cost savings.

Think of it as the “quality over quantity” model of healthcare, with accountable care organizations (ACOs) as its most visible manifestation.

ACOs need doctors. OK, that’s obvious, so let’s revise: ACOs need good doctors. Ideally, they want to either acquire or partner with the very best doctors and physician practices. But what if the good doctors aren’t interested?

The thing is, good doctors and physician practices may be doing just fine (for now) on their own and may not be interested in joining ACOs. And, at least in larger markets, those who are interested may have more than one suitor.

The best doctors are already delivering quality care, and doing so reasonably efficiently. They run their businesses relatively well. They have established referral networks that keep them booked. They help their patients, inspiring loyalty and recommendations. They make good money. So what’s their incentive to change?

To attract the best doctors and physician practices, ACOs have to appeal to what the good doctors most want, then demonstrate to them how ACOs can help.

So what do the good doctors want?

1. Good doctors want their patients to get well-coordinated care.

The human body is extraordinarily complex. Good doctors have confidence in what they know well and the humility to reach out when someone else will know better. They want to collaborate with other doctors and healthcare professionals to provide the best comprehensive care for their patients. Given the opportunity, they’re usually quite good at it.

Show doctors how your ACO will make it easier for them to collaborate with their peers, working together for the best possible patient outcomes.

2. Good doctors want to develop and maintain long-term relationships with their patients.

It’s not about making friends. Good doctors believe in the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. They know they can deliver better care when they learn, over time, the characters and qualities of their patients that even the most comprehensive electronic health records system could never capture.

Show good doctors how your ACO will strengthen, not replace, the doctor-patient bond, such as with patient portals that make it easier for patients and their doctors to communicate outside the exam room.

3. Good doctors want their patients to practice the basics.

Eat right, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Good doctors know that those four practices will keep their patients healthier than any pill ever could.

Show good doctors how your ACO’s coordinated care will encourage healthy habits with coaching, classes, smoking cessation programs, and other initiatives to encourage healthy behaviors.

4. Good doctors want better technology to serve more personalized care.

Data-based medicine should inform a good doctor’s judgment, not replace it. Good doctors want high tech paired with high touch, empowering their decisions, not hobbling their independence.

Show good doctors how integrated health IT within an ACO will give them a more complete picture of a patient’s health and ongoing treatment, informing their judgement as they plan the best care.

5. Good doctors want to focus on medicine, not bureaucratic burdens.

This doesn’t mean good doctors dislike the running of a business. Some of them enjoy it very much and will appreciate — even insist on — opportunities to exercise their entrepreneurial spirit. But good doctors will gladly turn over to an ACO the handling of insurance, transcription, record-keeping, billing, and other administrative necessities.

Show doctors you’ll help them get back to being doctors.

6. Good doctors want to be leaders.

If you bring good doctors into your ACO and don’t ask them to take on leadership roles, you’re wasting a valuable resource and likely frustrating your good doctors. Successful ACOs rely heavily on physician leadership.[1][2]

Show doctors you value and want their leadership, and give them real leadership in your ACO.

7. Good doctors want to be respected by their peers.

Good doctors have studied and worked hard to become good doctors. They’ve earned the respect of their peers, and they don’t want to give that up to become anonymous employees of your ACO. A good doctor is not a commodity, not an interchangeable cog in the healthcare machine. Each brings individual expertise and accomplishments that are worthy of recognition and respect.

Show good doctors that you value them and will promote them as individuals, worthy of their peers’ respect.

8. Good doctors want to have a good reputation in their community.

Good doctors and physician practices work for years to build their reputation in the community, and that reputation is worth a lot. It’s part of why you want them to join your ACO. They don’t want to lose that reputation by disappearing into an anonymous division of a large corporate structure.

Show them you won’t just market your ACO’s brand. Show them you see the value of marketing your doctors and physician practices, enhancing your own brand by showcasing the expertise of your good doctors.

9. Good doctors want to deliver great care to more people.

Fundamentally, good doctors want to help people. They want to deliver high quality care to each individual patient, and, to the extent they can do so while maintaining that quality, they want to help more people. This balance is completely in line with the goals of outcome-based healthcare and the ACO model: delivering higher quality care to each individual and to the population, while controlling costs by finding greater efficiencies.

Show good doctors how your goals are in alignment.

10. Helping the good doctors do more.

ACOs offer all doctors potential benefits, including possible savings-based bonuses and, in some cases, greater job security. Because the shift in America to outcome-based care now has considerable momentum, those who adapt early may be better prepared for the changes ahead.

But the good doctors are looking for more than a steady paycheck, and the good physician practices are looking for more than a lucrative buyout. Ultimately, what good doctors want is what good ACOs want too: to help people with higher quality care leading to better outcomes, and to do so while controlling costs, allowing them to help more people.

What do good doctors want? They want to know that you want to help people too, and that you’ll help the good doctors do more.

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[1] “True Physician Leadership Key to Sustainability of ACOs,” Dr. Robert Pear, Modern Healthcare. http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20141206/MAGAZINE/312069978

[2] “The Power of Physician Leadership in ACO Success,” Thomas Graf, M.D., FAAFP, and Cynthia Bailey, Accountable Care News, Volume 8, Issue 1, January 2017.

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Creating Confidence: Georgia Urology’s 2017 Marketing Campaign

How do you take often uncomfortable topics and develop messages that connect with potential patients looking for first-rate care? What do patients really want from their healthcare experience? These are just a couple of the questions the Lenz team asked when developing Georgia Urology’s 2017 “Confidence” campaign.

The “Confidence” campaign is designed to articulate the wide array of benefits that patients receive by partnering with Georgia Urology for their healthcare. And it recognizes that urology comes with particular sensitivities and considerations.

“The service offerings provided by Georgia Urology are critical, sometimes even life-saving,” said Accounts Supervisor Christine Mahin, who leads the Georgia Urology account for Lenz. “But we also knew they involved medical issues many people feel embarrassed and ashamed to discuss or seek help for. So, we asked ourselves: What does Georgia Urology offer patients that other practices do not?”

Following extensive research and after receiving important insights from the leadership at Georgia Urology, the Lenz team established a campaign theme that embodies Georgia Urology’s value to patients: confidence.

The concept was first articulated in a 60-second radio ad written by Lenz VP of Marketing, Mike Killeen:

Confidence.

It seems to be the missing ingredient in healthcare today.

We know more about the human body than ever before, benefit from cutting-edge research, and have access to medical technology that previous generations would have never dreamed of.

Yet, when it comes time to decide what to do for you and your family’s health, the choices can be overwhelming.

With something so important, you deserve a partner that you believe in. That’s called confidence. And it’s exactly what you get with Georgia Urology.

The concept of confidence speaks to how Georgia Urology’s patients feel when interacting with their care team, and when living their everyday lives. They are confident that they have chosen the right practice to care for them, that they are receiving the best, most appropriate treatments for their condition, and that they can confide in their care provider.

Similarly, Georgia Urology helps its patients live life freely and confidently, without worrying about the potential social impacts of their urological condition.

Lenz Creative Director Ben Barnes described the nuances behind developing visuals to fit this creative concept. “While every ad may not say ‘confidence’ directly, it’s the whole idea behind it that really counts. The idea we wanted to convey is that you can talk to your urologist without fear at Georgia Urology.”

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 The Lenz design team relied heavily on both overt and subtle design elements to effectively bring the “Confidence” concept to life in a visual way.

The black-and-white imagery helped address the often serious, sensitive nature of the conditions Georgia Urology treats. Images were intentionally cropped to omit the faces of the primary subjects, making it easier for consumers to insert themselves into the scenarios displayed. Everyday situations were often conveyed in the artwork to make the messaging relatable. The green arrow framing the primary text intentionally elicits a shield, bringing associations of protection and guardianship to Georgia Urology’s name.

Finally, the Lenz Interactive team worked hand-in-hand with the design team to update the Georgia Urology website so that it harmonized with the campaign aesthetic. Lenz wanted to make sure the campaign was fully integrated: from billboards to the website. We strove visually to assure those who searched for the Georgia Urology brand online knew they were at the right place when they reached the homepage.

WEBSITE

The Georgia Urology “Confidence” campaign is being extended throughout print, broadcast, and digital mediums in the Metro Atlanta market. The Lenz team is excited to continue to assist in developing Georgia Urology’s brand and promoting the confidence they provide their patients every day.

At Lenz, we love working with our clients to develop strategic and creative concepts to help them meet their goals. To learn more about our process, our team, and how we can help your business, click here.

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Lenz Helps Amplify Decatur Raise $40,000 to Fight Poverty

Lenz recently presented the 2017 Amplify Decatur Concert Series, helping raise $40,000 for its beneficiary Decatur Cooperative Ministry (DCM), a Decatur-based, nonprofit organization that works to prevent and alleviate poverty and homelessness in Decatur and DeKalb County.

Since the first Amplify event (formerly known as Poverty Is Real) in 2011, Amplify has helped to raise more than $150,000 for DCM. Each year, Lenz has served as the presenting sponsor. Amplify was founded by Lenz partner and Vice President of Marketing Mike Killeen, who remains an Amplify board member. Christine Mahin, Lenz Marketing’s Accounts Supervisor, who helped plan and produce the inaugural Amplify Decatur Music Festival in 2016, served as festival director this year. Lenz President and CEO Richard J. Lenz serves as the Chair of the Amplify Advisory Board. And the entire Lenz team contributed to the marketing and production of the event.

On April 22, thousands gathered on the Downtown Decatur Square for the Amplify Decatur Musical Festival, the centerpiece of the concert series. Americana legend and three-time Grammy winner Lucinda Williams headlined the outdoor festival, which drew more than 2,000 guests. Also performing were Noah Gundersen, John Moreland, Harold Holloway & Company, Packway Handle Band, and Kristen Englenz & The Committed.

“Anyone who attended the event will recognize how special this community is, as hundreds of volunteers, sponsors, restaurants, beer vendors, citizens, city officials, police force, and artists came together to create a magical night,” said Richard Lenz. “It takes a village to put on a great event like we experienced, and I can’t thank them enough. I was lucky enough to spend time with Lucinda and she said she was impressed with the event and audience, which meant a lot.”

Amplify Decatur also featured a four-night stand at historic Eddie’s Attic, featuring Caroline Herring, Leopold & His Fiction, Scott Miller, Bob Sima, and Angie Keilhauer. On April 30, it culminated with the Bob Dylan vs. The Band cover night featuring seven local and regional acts.

Major sponsors included WABE 90.1 FM, The Pinewood, Lockman Homebuilding, The Leafmore Group, Decatur Package Store, Natalie Gregory, and Iris and Bruce Feinberg. Additional sponsors included AtlantaBen.com, Georgia Urology, Hall, Booth, Smith, First Baptist Decatur, Courtyard Marriott, Oakhurst Realty Partners, Plumb Works, Creative Loafing, Scott D. Miller M.D., McCurdy & Candler LLC, Private Bank of Decatur, Verisol Partners, Travis Grubb Residential, Decatur Rotary Club, North Decatur Methodist Church, 97.1 The River, Brick Store Pub, Decatur Presbyterian Church, Decatur CD, Oakhurst Baptist Church, Dynamo Swim Club, Holy Trinity Parish, The Arlo, and New Chance Signs.

Lenz is extremely proud to have worked alongside the Amplify My Community team to make this event a reality.

Scroll down to view some of the photos from this amazing event!

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7 Thoughts on Healthcare Marketing

VP of Marketing Mike Killeen recently spoke to a healthcare marketing class at Valdosta State University. Here are the notes from Mike’s presentation.

1. Marketing healthcare is noble work

It connects doctors and patients who need them

Marketing often gets a bad rap. For some, it is the dark side of business, purely focused on making the cash register ring. But the purpose of marketing is to connect people with products and services they desire.

In turn, healthcare marketing exists to connect patients with healthcare providers and services that can help them stay healthy, get well, and live better lives.

Sure, marketing has been used to sell cigarettes to children. That’s bad. But more often it helps patients in need find a doctor that can care for them. That’s good.

 

2. Patients are people, too

They drink Coke and vote in elections

Effective healthcare marketing has more in common with consumer product marketing than most people realize. Why? Because patients are people, not some foreign species that exists only to receive medical treatment.

In other words, we’re all consumers, making choices everyday about what soda to drink, which political candidate to vote for, and where to take our sick kids for care.

Consumers arrive at buying decisions for different products in similar ways. They want value. They want to make choices with confidence. And, most of all, they want to associate with brands, organizations, and products that reinforce their views of themselves.

That’s true whether they are choosing a doctor or a can of sugar water.

 

3. Healthcare is jazz

Overnight shipping is the symphony

Patients may not be a foreign species, but doctors and healthcare executives often are!

That’s a joke of course, but the point is that the most singular aspect of healthcare marketing isn’t the patient audience, but working within the healthcare ecosystem, which presents a set of dynamics very different from other industries.

The healthcare industry is a constellation of loosely associated components striving to move together in a positive direction – kind of like a jazz band. Hospitals, physician practices, government, private insurance groups, pharmaceutical companies, and non-profit organizations all play a role. Sometimes they are well coordinated, and sometimes they are not. Overnight shipping, on the other hand, is more like the symphony: a well “orchestrated” set of activities arranged with a single goal in mind.

Today, the healthcare industry is experiencing a rapid transformation toward consumerism, where patients make independent choices about their care team instead of relying entirely on physician referrals. Most senior physicians and leadership entered the industry and built successful practices before the rise of the Internet and healthcare reform helped create this new reality.

So, understanding how patients make decisions is the easier part. Understanding how to effectively communicate the value of direct-to-patient marketing to a healthcare organization’s leadership requires a deeper understanding of the industry.

 

4. Nobody cares until they do

Then it’s all that matters

There is a segment of the population that is always in the market for a new guitar. If they had the money, the space, and their spouse’s approval, they would buy a guitar every day. But on a given day, relatively few people have an interest in or need for an orthopedic surgeon. Their backs, knees, and shoulders feel great. So, they probably wouldn’t even notice a TV commercial for an orthopedic group. But an ad about a holiday special at Guitar Center? That gets their hearts pounding every time.

There’s an old healthcare marketing joke about the guy who injures his knee and turns on the radio, waiting to hear the first ad for an orthopedic surgeon, so he knows where to go for help. The point is that that’s not how it works. By the time you injure your knee, the well marketed practice has probably already won your business, even if you didn’t consciously notice their TV ads until you were hurt.

Healthcare is a service that most people don’t think or care about until they need it. Once they do, it’s all that matters to them, and then they want to act fast. The lesson is that healthcare marketing requires branding—establishing a preference in the mind of the consumer before they have a need—and patience until the need arises. It’s an investment, but one that pays off.

 

5. All doctors are experts

And everybody cares

If you are a physician in America, there is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the public recognizes you as an expert. The bad news is that they think the same of your colleagues and competition.

The message is that clinical expertise is rarely a differentiator. Word of mouth based on bedside manner and even wait times are more likely to separate a physician from the pack—as is an association with well-esteemed and well-branded institution.

Marketing works best when there is an appropriate balance between functional and emotional appeals. But the classic healthcare marketing mistake is saying, “we are experts” (functional appeal) and “we care” (emotional appeal).

Expertise and compassionate medicine are examples of the “price of entry” concept—where what is most important to the consumer is also expected by them, and therefore does not differentiate one product from another. A healthcare provider promoting expertise and compassion will be about as effective as a restaurant promoting its clean kitchen, or an airline promoting safety. In either case a stronger position, or differentiator, is required for success.

 

6. Big data is coming

But will patients accept it?

In some ways healthcare marketing is the ultimate branding platform. Historically, very little data has been published about patient outcomes, and treatment expenses are largely hidden from view.

So, what do patients compare? Their perceptions and the reputations of the healthcare providers they consider. In other words: their brands.

This may be changing. Soon, we will see more healthcare data than ever before. Healthcare reform and the advent of Accountable Care Organizations are tying payment models to patient outcomes. Medicare has begun releasing physician-payment records annually, providing public access to how billions of dollars are spent on healthcare each year. And high deductible insurance plans are helping accelerate the retail medicine movement.
Together, these changes further contribute to an increasingly consumer healthcare environment where patients will have the opportunity to consider the more functional components (like treatment results and pricing) rather than relying on physician referrals and quality perceptions when making healthcare decisions.

The questions are whether, and how fast, patients will embrace the opportunity.

 

7. Dear Doctor: It’s not about you

Tell your patients’ stories, not yours

For whatever reason, doctors really like promoting their backgrounds: the schools they attended (all four of them), their certifications, prior hospital leadership positions, the conferences they attended, and the papers they’ve published.

But their audience—the ones who make or break their businesses—are patients who want to hear about the things that affect them: the treatments they have to choose from, what they’ll experience on their first office visit, and whether their insurance is accepted.

If they do care to hear about their doctor, it’s not where they went for residency, but why they entered medicine, what they are passionate about, and which former patient had the greatest impact on their life – all things that will help discerning patients understand what they can expect from their doctor.