Posted on November 8, 2012
By: John Corpus, Vice President of Strategy, Legato Healthcare Marketing
My mom was always afraid of going to the doctor because she feared he would tell her that she was going to die. One May, while at a Milwaukee Brewers game, she had a hard time catching her breath. So she finally decided that she better go to the doctor. He told her that she was going to die.
Do you ever wonder how much we determine our own fate? We take for granted that "bad things" happen to other people, allowing us to have - or justify - unhealthy behavior. We take risks, e.g., no annual physical, no exercise, and eating poorly.
Doctors and health systems primarily take care of "health issues," providing, for the most part, "sickcare." Yet, we call it healthcare. I know, I am not telling you anything new, but I will.
As a marketing agency, we do get caught up in the typical healthcare hype, but it is difficult to reach beyond when - no matter the genius behind the creative - the client pulls us back to something much safer and more comfortable.
Still, our clients pay us to stay ahead of the curve, to see the objective reality hidden within traditional healthcare marketing. Objective reality simply means that we take a step back and say, out loud, that something is what it is: again, healthcare is really sickcare. So how do we send the right message?
It is time that doctors and health systems truly participate in providing "healthcare," but how? Well, let's ignore the non-healthcare services (sickcare), such as those related to surgeries and illness, rehabilitation and recovery, and disease management.
For example, we have all seen this: the patient who has high cholesterol is placed on a medication to lower it, but is also instructed to adopt healthy behaviors to 1) eliminate the need for the medication and 2) become healthier. But, the patient may not take the medication regularly, may not exercise or eat properly, and therefor, the patient is on the medication for life, if not overly long.
Instead, let's focus on those services that provide people with the tools, resources, and information they need to stay healthy, e.g., smoking cessation, exercise and workout facilities, diet and personal hygiene-true healthcare. However, these services alone do not constitute healthcare.
There is one element missing, and it is the most important one regarding healthcare: personal, individual accountability. You see, it doesn't matter what the health system/provider side does if the patient doesn't participate in his/her care. In fact, the individual must be acknowledged as the primary caretaker of his/her own health. Now, we have a platform from which to market.
So, from a marketing perspective, I ask you to consider the following before you commence your healthcare marketing planning:
- Healthcare, as it stands now, is really sickcare. We need to redefine it.
- For health systems, doctors and marketers, it is a matter of understanding who the real primary caretaker is.
- True healthcare is not going to be found in the hospitals and with the doctors: true healthcare is grounded in individual lifestyle. Doctors and health systems are simply resources and vehicles for feedback. Sickcare is at the discretion of the health system and providers; true healthcare is at the discretion of the individual.
- In essence, the level to which an individual participates in his/her own healthcare is a considerable factor in determining his/her fate.