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Healthcare Marketers: How Selling Convenience Can Help You Earn ER and Urgent Care Market Share

June 18, 2015 - Health Care - Tiffany Vogel - Senior Copywriter

Obviously, when it comes to health, patients want to make sure they’re getting the best possible care. So an ER/urgent care marketer’s most effective key message is often something to the effect of “unparalleled care.” (See our recent post on Marketing Your ER.) But what happens after you’ve said that? Or what if research shows you can’t yet credibly own that in your marketplace? What are you to tout? What is resonating with consumers these days?

In a word, convenience. Not only do patients want unparalleled care, they want it right here. And they want it right now. Especially when it comes to emergencies and urgent care. After all, we live in a world where you can order dinner or groceries online and have it delivered at your request, and deposit a check from the kitchen table. Consumers expect their time-sensitive health issues to be taken seriously.

Well, isn’t that convenient?

Convenience can mean different things to different people. So it’s best to do some research to uncover what resonates with your consumers. One key trend we’ve seen across the country is healthcare systems responding to convenience demands with new service options.

Some hospitals are now offering on-site massage, acupuncture, yoga and meditation. Others are enhancing amenities by creating private hotel-like rooms, offering gourmet room service to patients and visitors, and providing concierge services such as manicures, pedicures and hair appointments. That all sounds great, but are pedicures the type of “convenience” that is going to drive revenue for your healthcare system?

In March, the 12th Annual World Health Care Congress brought together industry leaders to discuss future healthcare trends – one of which is, you guessed it, convenience. Teleperformance, a sponsor of the World Health Care Congress, states, “Convenience translates into the fast proliferation of outpatient retail clinics where individuals can walk in and get low-cost healthcare services without having to see a primary care doctor.”

When you can’t wait, walk-in care is waiting.

Teleperformance’s position is certainly in line with our own experience – we’ve routinely seen proximity near the top of consumer research studies examining how consumers chose a provider. So it’s no surprise that we’ve seen freestanding ERs, minute clinics, urgent cares and other such solutions popping up everywhere as healthcare providers try very hard to be in close proximity to every consumer at all times.

Lima Memorial Health System, located in western Ohio, is a one-hospital system, so their ability to be close to LMHS patients was limited. To answer the “close proximity” demand, they needed to provide additional access points to instant care. So they created Lima Memorial Walk-In Care – multiple locations across the region with extend hours. It’s the only system in Lima to offer this level of convenience for the same copay as a doctor’s office visit. This is a win-win for all parties involved – healthcare becomes more convenient for the consumer and walk-in care becomes a key differentiator for Lima Memorial versus their primary competitor.

 

Walk in CareA convenient truth.

Healthcare is rapidly changing and what once seemed unthinkable may very well be a part of the near future (if not the present). According to an April 2014 survey by PwC’s Health Research Institute, many consumers are open to saying goodbye to traditional care methods and hello to more convenient and affordable options. For instance, 58.6% would use an at-home strep test purchased at a store. Approximately 42% of people would have a urinalysis test and echocardiogram done at home using a device attached to their smartphones.

In keeping with this trend, the Cleveland Clinic introduced the idea of virtual visits by partnering with HealthSpot. Patients enter a private 8’x5′ enclosure outfitted with a high-definition video screen and an array of digital medical devices embedded in the space. Without an appointment, patients can conveniently walk up to a station in a school, an office building or a retail setting, have a face-to-face interaction with a medical provider and be treated for minor, common health conditions.

What convenient services has your ER/urgent care focused on to secure your piece of the ever-changing healthcare pie?

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