Key Components of the Healthcare System: Marketing Strategies for Health

November 21, 2016
S. Mantravadi
S. Mantravadi

Dr Mantravadi's research interests are in health economics research, outcomes research, modeling, pharmacoeconomics, and economic evaluation. Dr Mantravadi conducts research on the application of econometric techniques. Other research interests include healthcare application of biostatistics, health information technology/GIS, and health administration/ management.

Marketing is more than just advertising or billboards about health plans; it is the process of offering and exchanging services and products, and being able to meet the needs of consumers in the market.

This article is the second in a series of articles, which aim to provide an overview of key components of the healthcare system. The first can be found here.

Marketing is more than just advertising or billboards about health plans; it is the process of offering and exchanging services and products, and being able to meet the needs of consumers in the market. There are different markets and market strategies employed by companies, and an analysis of market strategy can assess competitive advantages and market share.

One of the keys of a marketing strategy is the company’s ability to define its domain or niche, and cater to the constituents of this market. This can be exemplified with the case of several organizations in the healthcare industry and the stance they took toward marketing strategies, and how they are able to meet and adapt to consumer needs.

The YMCA, a public health community organization, uses a diversification strategy. The YMCA used to provide exercise, nutrition, and mental health products for its target market (members). Now the organization is contracting with veterinarians to provide animal vaccines and medications (new products) for a new market of pet owners.

Humana In. uses a market development strategy. Humana has had products in the wellness program/disease management market for a while, due to it high Medicare advantage members.1,2 Now this insurance company is increasing the breadth of its product line, based on the popularity of online games, in this same market (new product, existing market).2

New products include Humana Vitality, an assessment of health status filled out by patients that calculates a Vitality Age and the steps toward better health. Patients can win prizes if they perform steps based on their Vitality Age and use other preventive services, and they can win monthly prizes if they fill out the self assessment.1,2 Humana has also partnered with Ubisoft, to create a Kinect Xbox videogame, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012, to encourage wellness and exercise.1 Humana Fit, a new product, is a personalized nutrition and exercise system, helping members stay on track. Vitality members can sync with this product, and earn more points and prizes.1

Lastly, Kaiser Permanente uses a product development strategy. Kaiser Permanente used to provide flu vaccines through selective distribution/primary care market. Now it has expanded its distribution of flu vaccines (same product) by specialty care physicians as well. For example, even when a patient visits a cardiologist for a checkup, the physician will remind the patient that she/he is due for a vaccine, and the nurse will administer it. Flu vaccines are also available at a drive-in Kaiser Clinic. Kaiser also has expanded itsTHRIVE campaigns to flu vaccines, and sends direct-to-consumer mailing cards about the flu season. These cards indicate availability dates of the inpatient and drive-in vaccines, as well as the closest drive-in vaccine center.

References

  1. Humana. Homepage. Retrieved from www.humana.org
  2. Mathews, A. (2012). Playing for Wellness. Retrieved form http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303816504577322240000793770.html