Blue Cross’ $65 billion move towards population health

As healthcare moves from fee-for-service to population health, your smartest move will be to start today to build a vibrant, active, online patient community.

You may be tempted to take a wait-and-see approach, but if the recent news from Blue Cross is any indication, you will need a population health strategy sooner than later.

“In the latest blow to fee-for-service medicine,” reports a July 9 Forbes article, “the nation’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans say they are spending more than $65 billion annually — about 20 percent of the medical claim dollars they pay — on ‘value-based’ care that rewards better outcomes and keeps patients healthy.”

Online patient communities can be a powerful tool to help patients achieve better health at lower cost with greater loyalty to the doctors and hospitals associated with their community.

An effective community combines three powerful motivational tools:

  • A built-in support group of peers who are struggling with the same health issues.
  • Accurate information about disease and treatments that can combat widespread inaccuracies found on the internet.
  • Access to health professionals who can respond quickly to patient questions.

When the community is built on a HIPAA-compliant platform, it provides a safe environment to share sensitive patient information.

Building effective patient communities require an investment of time and money, but the return on community will reap rewards for years to come. Once you build your loyal patient community, you can adapt to changing health care with them. 

No better time than now to start.

Photo credit: Flickr Espen Sundve 

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The Importance of Building Communities of Shared Interests

Last year I gave a talk at the 2013 Pelvic Health Conference in Denver, Colorado, and my focus was on the need for healthcare marketers to build communities of shared interest. These are niche online communities that give patients the opportunity to engage with others who are going through, or have gone through, similar circumstances.

When you get a diagnosis or are facing a significant health issue, it is natural to want to seek out others who have faced the same set of challenges. The experience, support and guidance of members of disease–specific online patient support community can be invaluable. Someone diagnosed with a rare disease or chronic condition can potentially find community among the group members.

If the healthcare organization is part of the community, it has the opportunity to inject high quality information and medical expertise, and make available important resources for those visiting the community. Ideally, in this scenario, the provider is the host and the facilitator, making the interactions possible – helping to create community. Read more

Hospitals: Four Steps To Manage Your Social Media in 10 Hours a Week

If you have been half-heartedly dabbling in social media for your hospital or clinic, I have some important news for you: It’s time to get in or get out.

I understand that your day is already packed with too much to do, and that you’ve been trying to squeeze in social media wherever it will fit. But a sloppy approach to social media doesn’t help anybody. You’re never going to build the vibrant community you want, and it just feels crummy to know you’re doing sub-par work. Read more

The Future of Health Care (Marketing) Is Community

flickr: alicegop

I’m presenting at the 4th Annual Health Care Social Media Summit October 16-18. My topic is Health Care Reform Meets Social Media: Cultivating Online Communities to Prevent and Manage Illness.*

We settled on this topic last March, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it since – and doing a ton of research, including interviews with some of the people most involved in online communities.

I have become more and more convinced that the future of health care itself, and marketing specifically, lies in community. Here’s why. Read more