I have to disagree with healthcare consultant Steve Rivkin's assessment that healthcare marketing is mainly about promoting "good works" ("Spin cycles," Nov. 21, p. 28).
Hospitals are still in transition from the mindset of the World War II generation to baby boomer consumerism. These are new waters for the marketing teams at our healthcare facilities.
My advice is to get your most credible data, define its purpose and audience, and use the channels that best communicate the information to the market segments you want to reach. Address both the good and the bad. Be truthful, be timely and be a resource.
Keep in mind that the healthcare industry needs to get ready to let this generation define what services will be delivered and how they will be delivered. It is up to the industry to tailor products to meet the consumer's needs, not patients meeting healthcare's needs.
The healthcare systems that insist on maintaining complete control over their image and services may wind up like the auto and steel industries. Each had their chance to see how the market would change and they chose not to adapt.
Our job is to become better listeners and prepare our institutions to make changes. Our executives know the costs of doing business and how to develop the margins, the management and the processes. This part of the equation is not what will be taken away. It is in the "designing" where healthcare organizations need to lose their grip or see the market drift away.
Let the marketing department be your ears and eyes; let it allow customers to hold the paintbrush and design the care processes of the future. If it's clear that someone is really listening, people will be more interested in what healthcare systems have to offer.
How many institutions reading this editorial have their medical libraries in the back of the hospital next to materials management? Consider putting it next to the gift shop and build brand equity around an information resource.
Roy Poillon President White Oak Marketing & Associates Medina, Ohio
White Oak Marketing & Associates
I was perplexed by Uwe Reinhardt's sarcasm and cynicism regarding mandatory vs. voluntary outcomes reporting (Letters, Nov. 21, p. 25). I just do not have time to be flippant in my leadership duties. I spend my time on innovative solutions to the micro- and macro-level challenges of the day.
I wonder if there is a big difference from someone working in "health policy for so many years" vs. the everyday physician who encounters as many, if not more, challenges each day as we do in hospital administration. I listened to many government and private entrepreneurs at a conference recently that have been working on solutions to assist physicians in achieving and reporting quality.
We need to support each other in these endeavors, not belittle each other.
Mark Dame Vice president of operations Washington County Memorial Hospital Salem, Ind.
Vice president of operations
Washington County Memorial Hospital
Learning from mistakes
I am writing from post-Katrina metro New Orleans, where life returns ZIP code by ZIP code. Gaining re-entry to the city, electricity, potable water and mail service are all dependent on your ZIP code. Mail service for my hospital's ZIP code restarted not that long ago. I was pleased to find the Aug. 29 edition of Modern Healthcare buried in the mail. Aug. 29 was the day Katrina hit New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Inside I found Todd Sloane's editorial, "Still not ready" (p. 20), about emergency response to terrorism. For me, the piece was one of uncanny precognition. Our front-line responders are no more ready to deal with the threat of Mother Nature than they are an act of terrorism. When the first responders became the victims, why were relief agencies days away from stepping up to the plate?
We learn from our mistakes, and those of us still in New Orleans saw the massive exodus of relief workers depart to get ready for Hurricane Rita. The same mistake was not going to be made twice in such a brief span of time. But what happens after we position rescue efforts to prepare for future storms, and the storms turn out not to be deadly? Will we become complacent, less willing to prepare for the worst after several false alarms?
Rebecca Mackie Certified public accountant Belle Chasse, La.
Certified public accountant
Belle Chasse, La.