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Getting the Message Right in Health Data Analytics

Published March 28, 2016 2:11 PM by Monique Barrett

[Editor’s note: this article was contributed by Patrick George, director, healthcare practice, KP Public Affairs.]

There is no stopping big data. An entire industry, driven by identifying patterns from extremely large data sets, is set to grow at a blistering pace—26.4% annually through 2018, according to a recent forecast from research firm IDC. The trajectory would mean an additional $41.5 billion through 2018—roughly six times the growth rate of the rest of the entire information technology market. In this environment, it is understandable a large number of data analytics firms lie in bed at night wondering how to gobble up a larger market share.  

However, in the quest for domination, organizations have made their marketing approach needlessly complicated. Marketers and their consultants have failed to accept decision makers in the healthcare technology space remain surprisingly illiterate. Still, an endless stream of executive speeches and press releases carry on about “value-based, world-class, solutions.” Too few companies offer real examples and plain descriptions of how it works and why it works. Companies and the marketing firms that advise them need to regain their senses.  

Based on my experience in healthcare and IT, here are three ideas that can help:

Showcase Your Customers 
The mission and purpose of a business is to meet the needs of its customer. According to market research firm Nielsen, 83% of customers will take action based on recommendations from people they know. Testimonials, editorial media coverage, speaking at events—when customers deliver the message, there is no more trusted source to other customers. It is amazing how few organizations put the time and effort into directly or indirectly enlisting satisfied customers to make the case on their behalf. When a customer talks plainly and succinctly it resonates, particularly when it comes to highly complicated topics like analytics and big data in a healthcare setting.    

Frame the Message  
As much as the message itself, how it is “framed” influences customer choice. Discussing technical issues like data analytics is successful when it’s linked to what’s happening in the world. Much like the way a frame draws attention to a painting, message framing provides order and structure around the message. For example, data analytics and big data providers proclaim they have “proven solutions that deliver results.” However, too few take the time to tailor messages to the scope of the problem, the cost of inaction, the timeframe or human barriers that impede progress. For example, there is inherent conflict between sharing top-line messages for physicians or senior level executives and, say, a middle manager who needs to understand how data analytics can help coordinate coverage, coding, and payment processes for Medicare.

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Deliver the Message with a Point of View  
Hearing what someone believes to be true is more persuasive than a recitation of facts or products attributes. Offering a point of view means stating a position then giving reasons to believe and offering a conclusion. For example, a physician in a busy clinical setting might feel too overwhelmed to care to try a new technology. Similarly, senior-level executives are constantly bombarded with appeals for them to spend their budget (or their valuable time) on technology. A good argument enables key audiences to evaluate complex data analytics products and services for themselves.

Moving forward, companies in data analytics and other technology industries will have little choice but to deliver messages that are succinct, purposeful and loaded with direction. Failing to do so could mean the difference between shriveling on the vine and thriving in a growing, boundless technology market.

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