Affordable Care Organizations

ACOs — 5 Marketing Best Practices

Effective marketing starts with a well-informed marketing strategy and communicating that strategy in a simple and easy-to-understand manner. To maximize the impact of your message, follow these five best practices:

1 — What is the benefit to the patient?

The number one benefit for an ACO patient is better overall health. Marketing message should highlight that emphasizing preventive medicine and incentivizing quality over quantity would improve patient care and outcomes. Plus, proper care coordination would contain cost by avoiding care without proven benefit and eliminating duplicate procedures.

However, benefits in process improvement and alignment of incentives can appear procedural and not relevant to many patients. It can be more difficult to convince patients of your ACOs merits than promoting the latest medical technology or a new provider.

2 — Who is your target audience?

You need to clearly define the population you intend to attract. Your primary audience will likely be Medicare beneficiaries, which means you need to pay attention on how to communicate with people who are 65 and over. Your secondary audience may include a broader patient base.

The best way to accomplish this goal is by defining their personas. Medicare beneficiaries tend to be wary of any new change to Medicare. This population’s demographic and psychographic attributes are broad so minimize jargon and complexity. Keep language in all marketing materials understandable and the writing legible.

3 — What are your goals?

Define your marketing goals. Since Medicare beneficiaries can opt out of sharing their medical information your initial goal will be to ensure that they don’t opt out.

Creating an informative and compelling poster, letter, and/or handout will help to relieve potential patient concerns. Developing additional collateral such as a brochure, flyer, outreach events, and web pages focusing on the benefits to the patients will add value and help convince patients to share their medical information.

4 — Consider patient concerns

When it comes to messaging, you should refrain from including too many details of your operation. The goal is to provide enough information about inherent advantages of the concept and principles underlying ACOs and reassure patients that their benefits will not change or lead to any other negative impact.

It is paramount that you address patient concerns when developing content. Determining target audience’s persona probably gave you clues that this audience is generally resistant to change and skeptical of anything that threatens to take away choices. You should develop a list of FAQs and provide clear answers to allay their fears. Questions such as:

  • “Can I still see doctors who are not part of this ACO?”
  • “Will my benefits change if I’m part of this ACO?”
  • “Who will have access to my health care information?”
  • “Is an ACO a HMO”?

The messaging should assure patients that they won’t be relinquishing control over their health care. Make sure you provide a narrative that is relatable to the patients. It should illustrate how an ACO will make the health care process easier through better coordination between providers and minimizing redundancy of procedures and office visits.

5 — Keep CMS marketing guidelines in mind

There are strict guidelines to adhere to when developing marketing pieces for these audiences. Guidelines such as font size, messaging guidelines, HIPAA, coding of pieces, and review processes should all be taken into consideration.

Some marketing material dos:

  • Use template language developed by CMS, if available
  • Submit required marketing material to CMS for approval
  • Wait 5 days after submission before using materials

Some marketing material don’ts:

  • Should not be used in a discriminatory manner or for a discriminatory purpose
  • Should not be materially inaccurate or misleading
  • Should not suggest your ACO is endorsed by CMS
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About BTS
BTS Consulting is a boutique healthcare marketing and consulting firm that specializes in developing strategy and providing healthcare marketing services using thoughtful, impactful, and memorable solutions utilizing a variety of media to attract customers. What sets us apart is our unique blend of scientific, sales, and healthcare marketing experience. Members of our staff are CMS and HIPAA certified. Our diverse perspective and fluency with technical, clinical, and medical verbiage and issues help our clients stand out from the crowd.

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