The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: 3 Simple Approaches for Managing Healthcare Complexity

By Chris Mycek, Chief Customer Officer, Cadient Group

Just because everything is different doesn’t mean anything has changed.

—Irene Peter

It’s not news that the Affordable Care Act has altered, and will continue to significantly alter, the delivery of healthcare in the United States. Whether it’s the consumerization of healthcare through health insurance exchanges, the impact on healthcare systems that are now focused on driving better outcomes (and reducing hospital readmissions) or the mandated option of electronic health records, we’re admittedly swimming (maybe even barely afloat) in a sea of change. Only a few years ago, the biggest influencers in healthcare were payers, health insurance companies and ultimately employer groups. Long gone are the days of fee-for-service, when physicians ruled the roost. Now, the landscape of who and what influences the healthcare system has dramatically changed and become increasingly complex. However, even in the midst of this increasingly complex system, brands still need to communicate with patients, and patients still need to understand important, and oftentimes life-saving information.

In the past, driving adoption of new medicine, devices, and technology was relatively straightforward. Payers, providers, and patients were the three main stakeholders who needed to be influenced. For pharmaceutical and medical device companies, communication strategies were developed for managed market account teams, the field sales force, and direct-to-consumer campaigns.

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For payers, the main focus was on price. Now, although formulary decisions still have a strong focus on the cost of the therapy, with a new emphasis on outcomes, this focus pivots from price to value. What types of support, programs, and beyond-the-pill solutions will ultimately drive the best patient outcomes?

The industry is rapidly moving to address these needs. Healthcare solutions need to evolve to include a synergistic ecosystem of information, support, technology, and therapy. Solutions are becoming more complex, raising the bar on developing clear communication strategies that can delineate the value proposition to the new landscape of influencers and decision makers. The new landscape is fluid and highly complex, and will require a new set of communication strategies to affect change.

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The above diagram is a more accurate reflection of this new landscape, and can be used as a starting point for mapping out the processes that will drive adoption of new methods to affect and improve outcomes. Faced with this new and seemingly daunting landscape, there are three simple things to keep in mind in order to be successful.

1). Mobile-first communications
Information today is consumed more and more on mobile devices, be it smart phones, phablets, or tablets. Communication should embrace mobile experiences as the primary channel for engagement of all stakeholders. Successful communications must be multi-channel to meet information consumption preferences, but a mobile-first strategy must be embraced. This mobile first trend is growing and is global. In fact, according to Cisco, some 32-percent of employees globally now rely on more than one mobile device during the typical workday.

2). Visual storytelling
Healthcare familiarity varies significantly across stakeholders, and attention spans are becoming increasingly shorter. Text-heavy communications are no longer effective at communicating increasingly complex solutions. Those looking to influence the healthcare system need to adopt an approach of using data visualization, iconography, and infographics to inform and influence the changing landscape. Of course, using video is also an effective approach as well—as long as it’s short format.

3). Building communities
The expanding landscape of multiple stakeholders from multiple disciplines and entities mandates consensus building. For organizations looking to influence the healthcare industry, developing multi-discipline advisory boards is highly recommended. There are a variety of technology platforms that can empower virtual communities and also host these interactions and support higher efficiency through online communication. The ability to develop experiences like LinkedIn or Facebook that are private and only accessible with login credentials exists, and represent a cost-efficient approach to gaining insight from the ecosystem of influencers.

Conclusion

The system of payers, providers, and patients is behind us, and the new landscape will continue to evolve as we all work together to develop and adopt new healthcare delivery options, therapies and technologies. To address the complexity, variance of health literacy and fragmentation of media, individuals and organizations need to refine their communication strategies to optimize their effectiveness. Considering the primary channel (mobile), optimal approach (visual storytelling), and ways to bridge gaps across disciplines (building communities) can help ensure that the right messages are delivered to the right patients in a way that is both meaningful and memorable. HExL, Inc. founder and CEO Rick Kimball said it best, “In the future, the white coats and the [business] suits will become one. Providers have to be able to straddle the diagnosis and treatment elements together with the financial risks they are bearing.”

About the author: As Chief Customer Officer, Chris Mycek oversees Cadient Group’s customer development process. He has more than 20 years of experience in supporting the development of digital marketing for multi-national organizations in the life science, consumer packaged goods, consumer electronics, financial services, and food industries.

Chris can be contacted at chris.mycek@cadient.com, visit www.Cadient.com for more information.

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