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By Andrea Overman
The healthcare sector has always been one of constant change, regularly experiencing technological, policy, and practice transformation. But the level of uncertainty and complexity since the pandemic hit has put understanding how the business of healthcare has changed on life support.
COVID-19 didn’t just make a lot of people sick across the country; it infected the entire U.S. healthcare system. A just-released survey of 2,500 nurses shows that 64% are planning to leave the industry. That’s almost a 40% jump from one year ago. Why? 75% said they had experienced burnout since the pandemic began, and half of the respondents suffer from trauma, extreme stress, or PTSD.
But workforce shortages are only one of the multiple problems medical providers face. Other headwinds include supply constraints, financial instability, increased costs, stalled growth, and patient distrust, to name a few. So the reality for healthcare suppliers is that they must elevate their marketing strategies. They must understand how healthcare providers are solving these problems by leveraging new technologies and transforming how care is delivered to patients, both in person and virtually.
To continue to grow in this challenging macro environment – which may get even more complicated as the economy falters – businesses that sell products and services to healthcare systems must contemplate and develop strategies in the following three areas.
#1 Determine Whether the Company Has the Right Portfolio of Products and Services
Business executives must know whether the company’s products and services will help the business address the critical issues mentioned. Take the time to look at the product portfolio through the lens of critical issues health systems deal with. Talk to customers and non-customers to better understand their problems – they may not always be able to say how various services can help them, but they are experts on their issues. At the very least, use secondary sources to be sure the firm understands the current environment.
Once a CEO understands this foundation, identify whether the company’s services can meet the customer’s urgent needs or contribute to a solution. If not, a CEO may realize that it is much more difficult to gain interest in the message or schedule a meeting about the services offered.
What actions are essential now? First, a CEO must reassess which products and services will effectively address their client’s critical issues. Are these part of the company’s portfolio, or does the CEO need to adjust existing products or develop or acquire the right products and services?
#2 Adjust the Messaging to Acknowledge The Customer’s Key Challenges
Sometimes the firm’s products and services are on-target to meet the current challenges, but the messaging is off. The buyer’s messaging, therefore, may need to be adjusted to assure that the customer knows that the buyer understands the challenges of the current market environment. Here are some guidelines:
First, describe how the company helps customers solve their unique problems. Unfortunately, many companies start by describing their company and its product suite first, which is a big mistake.
Then specifically acknowledge the challenges that the company’s customers are facing. Verbalize their needs and the problems they need solving. This will show that the buyer empathizes with the situation.
Third, discuss how the company is uniquely positioned to address the customer’s challenges. A high-level unique value proposition can be powerful here. Some founders will often share what led them to start the company in the first place. This leads to the last point.
Finally, display why the company and its executives are qualified to help customers with their problems.
#3 Confirm the Company’s Growth Strategy
Four essential strategies will provide growth in a changing environment.
- Increasing market share in existing markets with existing products can be one of the quickest routes to overall growth.
- Entering new markets with existing products will require market analysis beforehand.
- Launching new products to existing markets will provide growth for the overall portfolio but will need careful pilot testing.
- Entering new markets with newly developed products is undoubtedly the most challenging and risky strategy, but often the one with the most potential.
Bringing It Home
With the growing challenges that the healthcare industry, like so many other industries, is facing, there are three particular opportunities for a CEO to exploit for helpful advantages: confirming the right product and service portfolio; adjusting customer messaging; identifying growth opportunities,
Healthcare buyers are hyper-focused on addressing these urgent challenges. Healthcare companies must be just as hyper-focused on solving them with practical strategies to generate new growth.