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At A Time When Medicare is Looking to Cut Down on Re-Admissions Hospitals are Marketing to Find New Admissions As A Source of Re

Posted Feb 06 2012 12:17am

Yes we are marketed everywhere we turn today and I get mailings from hospitals and don’t mind it much; however if the mailings were to get too specific I might raise an eyebrow as according to this report hospitals are looking to bring in additional revenue and the practices sometimes get pretty close to a dividing line.  If you look at the comment made below, those who can pay and have good insurance are targeted and from a business standpoint every does that to some degree.  image

Marketing and consulting firms are selling such services to hospitals but when do they go too far?  They do at times when getting that “extra” edge comes into play and business intelligence analytics are used.  We had a case of that come up to where a consulting firm did go too far and this all came to light when a notebook was stolen with patient records and we had a breach.  Later it was disclosed that actual patient files were shown to Wall Street investors as the hospital was looking to generate more money from investors and the 3rd party went too far and the state of Minnesota is suing them and has at least removed their ability to do business.

All this additional marketing is due to the financial status of many hospitals trying to hang on in many areas.  I just posted this week about 2 major hospital systems cutting back on budgets and laying off employees.  Insurers are making record profits as people can’t afford to go to the doctor as they have in the past due to economic times.  Again I think if doctors and hospitals were not already drilled down to this level, they would care less about marketing if the business was there.

We talk about buying and selling data, some hospitals are having to buy outside information as a price to market consumers to, and that brings me around to what I call the Alternative Millionaire’s Tax.  This should be disclosed as to who is selling what kind of data to who on a federal site in the name of transparency.  In addition, the folks selling it are making billions, so license and tax those folks big time. I realize we can’t stop this business and some of it has a place but it is overdone in a lot of areas of business and besides as consumers we should be able to know the who, what and where our data is sold, especially when state servers slow down to a crawl due to all the mining bots.  Some states have had to put software in place to keep them out.  image

The Alternative Millionaire’s Tax–License and Tax Big Corporations Who Mine and Sell Taxpayer Data They Get for Free From the Internet-Phase One to Restore Middle Class With Transparency, Disclosure and Money

Also we have to ask and ponder the question too is this results in unnecessary screenings, surgeries, labs, and so on.  There’s a chance that some of it may but separating all maybe hard to do.  What I also found interesting was the mention of a company by the name of CPM, which merged with HeatlhGrades, the company I found was not up to date with records of physicians when I found my former doctor who had been dead for 8 years still alive and well and taking new patients.  They may have cleaned up a bit, but now with having a marketing firm to aggregate data with, what spin will we see next you have to wonder? 

Depending on the marketing campaign there could be some real cherry picking here taking place so again the fine line as to how mined data is uses is staring us in the face again but does it bring in more revenue to level off charity care ratios?   Some hospitals are even selling health insurance today too.  One of the most bizarre marketing campaigns I have seen is Ozzy Osbourne and the “Win a Colonoscopy” contest.  This is good for awareness but also drives patients to the hospital and never thought I would see the day where you had to “win” one of these:)  BD

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The one problem I see with “over marketing” is that after a period of time, consumers get numb, and self included and basically tune out so time will tell the future of hospital marketing as long as economic times put them in a position to where they need to aggressively generate revenue.  BD 

To help devise such campaigns, St. Anthony's and other hospitals share patient data with marketing staff and outside consultants. Anyone with access to patient records is required by federal law to sign non-disclosure agreements.  At an industry conference last year, Provena Health marketing executive Lisa Lagger said such efforts had helped attract higher-paying patients, including those covered by "profitable Blue Cross and less Medicare."

While the practice is legal, most people would be shocked to know their records may be shared with non-medical personnel and outside firms to help hospitals attract business, says Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, an advocacy group based in California.

While hospitals may profit from offering cholesterol tests and mammograms, the big payoff is in what those screenings may lead to — additional tests and procedures, including surgery.

"The old adage in business is that it's easier to sell an existing customer new services rather than find a new customer," says Patrick Kane , senior vice president of marketing at Cape Cod Healthcare in Massachusetts who used such approaches at Wellmont Health System in Kingsport, Tenn.

One of the biggest pluses for hospital executives is that they can track a campaign's success by comparing the amount of services used by targeted consumers with a control group with the same demographic and economic characteristics but who are not sent mailings.

Much of the expertise for such campaigns is provided by three consulting firms — CPM Marketing of Madison, Wis., Medseek of Birmingham, Ala., and New York-based Thomson Reuters . They typically charge hospitals $100,000 a year or more.


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