Why Healthcare Marketing Is Different

Power Structure of Healthcare Organizations

The most prevalent difference of healthcare organizations from others is that in healthcare, head administrators and such DO not make most of the decisions that affect patients (customers), but physicians do. There is a unique dynamic in healthcare organizations in the relationship between its business and administrative leaders and the providers of medical services.

Payment of Services

Unlike most businesses in other industries, healthcare organizations do not get paid until after services have been rendered because, as also different in other industries, the consumer receiving services is NOT who is fully responsible for paying for them.

Healthcare organizations receive most of their reimbursements through third party payers (insurance companies, Medicare), which can take up to a month or longer to process.

The End User

Unlike many industries, like retail for example where goods are marketed directly to potential customers, most marketing efforts of healthcare organizations do NOT target end users (patients, customers).

Healthcare organizations, especially those that provide specialty care, rely on the referrals of other physicians (primary care physicians) to build their patient base. Thus, specialty practices will focus their marketing efforts towards building relationships with other providers.

Seller Discretion

In most industries, potential customers that cannot afford a service or product can be denied service.

However, in healthcare, organizations (especially non-profit organizations) have obligations to accept patients regardless of their ability to pay. In emergency rooms, patients with emergency care MUST be seen at least until they are stabilized. Physician practices may require payment to be made before the visit, however, the practice must consider ethical and liability concerns before they decide to turn away a symptomatic patient based on their lack of means to pay.

Profitable Services

In most industries, business will generally not provide unprofitable services.

Healthcare organizations, like any other business, must turn a profit in order to keep its doors open. However, unlike other industries, healthcare organizations often provide services that are not profitable. As in situations explained above regarding emergency rooms, healthcare organizations have ethical and legal considerations that do not affect businesses within other industries.

Healthcare services are provided within a course of patients care. If a service is necessary to progress a patient’s course of care, it should still be provided even if it is not profitable.
Example:

A patient’s chemotherapy regimen may include a drug that is not profitable to give, but is necessary to complete the regimen.

Supply and Demand

Typical laws of supply and demand generally do not apply within healthcare, as an increase in supply does not necessarily lead to a decrease in prices, and an increase in demand does not necessarily lead to an increase in prices.

Although healthcare organizations set the prices for the services they provide, their reimbursement is usually dictated by their managed care contracts, and an organization will be reimbursed a set fee regardless of what the price they charged. Prices for services mostly apply to self pay patients.

Demand for healthcare services is usually not dictated by the consumer, as they do not choose what services would be necessary to continue their care. Such decisions are made by physicians.

Although demand in any industry is unpredictable, it is considerably more so in healthcare as consumers do not choose when they need service and the need is realized unexpectedly.

Products and Services

Healthcare mostly markets services rather than tangible goods. Therefore, in most cases, marketers are not marketing a specific product but a service and who is providing the service and how it is performed to attract consumers. A consumer of a tangible product will base their level of satisfaction on the product on its use and performance. The consumer of a service will base their opinions on factors such as customer services, wait times, condition of the facility, the demeanor of those providing the service, and the processes used to provide the service amongst many other factors.

Healthcare products and services can be so complex that they are rarely understood by the end user. Unlike the retail industry for example, where a consumer identifies a need for a product and will fulfill that need by purchasing the product, healthcare consumers rarely choose the services they will receive. Consumers of healthcare services seek the services of physician who will then choose what further services are necessary to treat the their condition.

Even in cases where services are marketed directly to a patient, for example robotic surgery for a particular condition, the service can be so complex that it must be marketed in a way that are understandable to patients.

Undesirable Consumers

Most businesses would welcome any consumer to purchase their products or services as the CONSUMER would be responsible for paying for such products and services when they receive them. Because consumers of healthcare services are usually not responsible for the payment of services at the time they are provided, as this responsibility is of third party payers, healthcare organizations must attract consumers that are not potential financial liabilities.

Although physicians are obligated to treat patients regardless of if they have insurance or means to pay, marketers must attract consumers with insurance policies whose reimbursement rates will cover the costs of the services provided.

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Healthcare Assistant Jobs

Healthcare Assistant Job Duties
Job duties of healthcare assistants can vary greatly, as healthcare professionals who require the services or assistances are also quite varied. Assistants may work with any range of healthcare professionals, including everyone from doctors to nurses and radiologists or other technicians to midwives. In some cases, the job duties performed in healthcare assistant jobs may overlap with those of a nurse. The primary difference is that assistants may not administer medications or perform complex healthcare procedures.

Assistants in the medical industry are responsible for simple medical procedures and tasks, including the taking of blood samples, insertion of needles, measurement of patient vitals and the taking of patient histories. They are allowed to help professionals in emergencies and are also the primary contact for patients and patient’s families.

Pay Scale and Outlook
Assistants just entering the field can expect to earn on average £13,000 to £16,000 per year, though the exact salary will vary depending on the nature of the healthcare assistant jobs in question. With experience, a healthcare assistant’s salary may increase, but usually maxes out at about £18,000.

In spite of the limited salary scale of healthcare assistant positions, many who work in these roles remain in the career for the extent of their working lives. This is due in large part to the personal satisfaction that many assistants glean from their daily work.

Some decide to pursue employment in the professional career to which they have been an assistant. Many move on to study midwifery, nursing, and technician work.

Qualifications
Medical assistants are not required to have any sort of formal education or training, but must pass a criminal history check and must also pass a medical examination, due to the extent of close patient contact in their daily job duties. Most assistants are also preferred to hold a driving license.

If you are interested in this job role then you can earn a certification through the National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) program, in either Healthcare or in Health and Social Care, will increase their career opportunities and potential salary earnings.

Previous experience in any care giving role is generally considered of benefit in securing a healthcare assistant role. Previous medical experience and volunteer work both make good CV additions when applying for a healthcare position.

Working Conditions
Healthcare assistant jobs are typically found in hospital settings and in home care. They may spend a great deal of time travelling between locations in order to perform their normal, everyday job duties.

Most assistants work on a shift schedule, and that schedule may include weekend and night hours. There are flexible schedules available in the field. There are also full-time and part-time positions to be found.

These positions are physically challenging, especially as the assistant is the primary party responsible for moving and lifting incapacitated patients, those who are seriously or terminally ill, and those who are unable to move on their own.

Employment Options
Healthcare assistant jobs are available with private and public hospitals, hospices, and residential care facilities. The National Health Service has a range of assistant positions from which to choose. Healthcare assistants may also work in nursing homes, for private agencies, or with homecare organizations.