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Posts in ‘Mature Marketing’

Hospitals Look to Telehealth for Strategic Advantage

Apr 30

According to recent data from the American Hospital Association, 42% of US hospitals have telehealth capabilities. The AHA survey probed which types of hospitals are the most likely to implement telehealth and why. The findings have direct implications to vendors and service providers who are trying to prioritize their targeting and marketing strategies.

According to the survey, rates of telehealth adoption are influenced by a variety of strategic considerations. For example, rural hospitals face unique challenges that telehealth can help them to overcome. Additionally rural hospitals have access to federal funds to improve care accessibility, and as a result they may be more likely to provide telehealth than hospitals in some urban areas. Teaching hospitals equipped with advanced medical technology, hospitals that are part of a larger health system and nonprofits also have higher rates of telehealth adoption, possibly because the technology offers a way to deliver a full range of services to patients from any location, increasing access as well as revenue. The study also found that hospitals in more competitive markets may be adopting telehealth as a way to distinguish themselves from their competitors.

One of the key strategic factors influencing the decision to adopt telehealth is state policies. The survey found that policies that promote private payer reimbursement for telehealth are associated with greater likelihood of telehealth adoption, while policies that require out-of-state providers to have a special license to provide telehealth services reduce the likelihood of adoption.

According to a recent forecast by IBISWorld, revenue in the telehealth services industry is expected to increase by an annualized 30% to $320.2 million in the next five years, including revenue growth of 23% in 2014.

As service providers and marketers pursue the hospital segment, they do well to keep in mind that telehealth adoption is shaped by the perceived strategic advantages that telehealth offers hospitals. The marketers most likely to succeed will be those who leverage these insights to create compelling and distinctive marketing strategies.

The Challenge of Rural Health Care

Feb 28

In our last post we discussed why rural hospitals are such a vital lifeline to the communities they serve. Both rural elderly and their caregivers heavily depend upon rural hospitals.

Yet rural hospitals do not have it easy. They face unique challenges due to geographic isolation, recruitment challenges, limited workforce and constrained financial resources. Compounding these issues, rural Americans have lower incomes and tend to have less medical coverage or none at all. They are on average older and less healthy than Americans living in urban areas. Nearly half of rural residents report having at least one major chronic illness.

According to American Hospital Association research, rural hospitals are typically much smaller than their urban and suburban counterparts. Nearly half have 25 or fewer beds. Despite a smaller size and smaller base of patients, rural hospitals still have to maintain a broad range of basic services and purchase much of the same equipment as larger hospitals in order to meet the health care needs of their communities.  Yet with fewer patients over which to spread fixed expenses, the overhead for rural hospitals is higher.

How are rural hospitals meeting the challenge? Telemedicine has become an essential means for rural hospitals to improve the quality of patient care and their own bottom line. The American Telemedicine Association defines telemedicine as  the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status. In a future post we will discuss how telemedicine is transforming healthcare delivery and some of the positive impacts it is having on rural health.

Rural Hospitals, the Unsung Heroes of Eldercare

Jan 31

In a previous post we discussed the challenges faced by rural elderly and their caregivers. Rural patients have to travel long distances to seek care, made more difficult by the fact that many can no longer drive and there is a lack of available or reliable public transportation. These issues contribute to their tendency to delay seeking care, which aggravates health problems and leads to more complicated, lengthy and expensive interventions when they finally do receive medical attention.

Rural communities rely on their hospitals on many levels. In many cases, rural hospitals are the only source for care. Since rural hospitals are often the sole site for patient care in the community, they are also more likely to vital eldercare services that otherwise would not be accessible to residents. For example, many rural hospitals provide hospice, home health services, skilled nursing, adult day care and assisted living. Additionally they many support broader social needs through subsidized programs such as meal deliver services, community health education, rural health clinics and other services. Often rural hospitals step in to offer these services out a sense of community responsibility, as stand-alone providers may have trouble keeps their doors open in low-volume, isolated areas of the country.

Yet despite the fact that rural hospitals are a vital lifeline to both communities and their residents, rural hospitals are facing a barrage of challenges. Future posts will discuss some of these challenges as well as innovative solutions that are helping support and strengthen rural hospitals across the nation.

Using Telehealth to Support Rural Caregivers

Dec 04

The physical, emotional and financial toll to caregivers is extensive. A conservative estimate reports that 20% of family caregivers suffer from depression, twice the rate of the general population. In response, a variety of caregiver support programs have been developed. However, rural caregivers continue to bear much of the burden alone.

Rural caregivers confront unique challenges, above and beyond the normal stresses of caregiving. They spend significant time and funds just traveling to care for their loved one. 60% of rural caregivers drive up to an hour to check on their loved one. Routine medical appointments and referrals to specialists at major hospitals add to the challenge. Outside of major cities, public transportation is often nonexistent or unreliable. According to one study, rural patients travel an average of 22 miles for care.

Geographical and financial obstacles combine with social barriers to further complicate outreach efforts to rural caregivers. Studies show that traditional attitudes can impede outside efforts to provide rural caregivers with needed support. These perceptions may include strong tendencies toward self-reliance, turning to local institutions, neighbors and church community during times of crisis, skepticism and distrust of the intentions and social sensitivity of providers who live outside the immediate area.

However telehealth is proving a promising new method of overcoming isolation, providing caregiver support and improving patient quality of life. In a first of its kind, randomized 12-week clinical trial, rural caregivers who received telehealth-based caregiver training showed lower rates of depression, better  self-care and improvement in their ability to identify and solve specific problems related to caregiving (e.g. responding to disturbing patient behaviors, controlling upsetting thoughts, etc).

The benefits of telehealth go far beyond caregiver support. Telehealth interventions are proving to be a transformative technology for patients, healthcare workers, insures, employers and hospitals, especially in rural areas. In a future edition of this blog, we will discuss the effectiveness of telehealth in reducing medication errors, improving patient outcomes and overcoming many of the unique challenges that rural hospitals face.

Mature Marketing, Baby Boomers Aging in Place

Aug 14

Repeated surveys have shown what most of us know intuitively. According to AARP, 90% of those 55 and over would like to spend the rest of their lives in the comfort of our homes and communities. Not only do today’s Baby Boomers visualize continued independence, contrary to popular belief, they are planning to stay in their current residence, with only 18% considering downsizing to a smaller, more manageable home.

Recent advances in telemedicine are enabling many older people to continue to live independently in their own homes, even after the onset of health conditions commonly associated with aging. Statistics show that more than six of every 10 Boomers are managing more than one chronic condition.

Yet through the use of telemonitoring , mhealth applications and telephone triage more people than ever will safely be able to continue living independently at home. Telehealth applications and devices track daily vitals including blood pressure, heart beat, oxygen and weight. Motion sensors monitor movements and alert healthcare providers and caregivers of falls or changes in sleep patterns and behaviors.

Telemonitoring not only provides peace of mind but lowers healthcare costs, improves adherence to treatment plans and creates higher satisfaction, while providing seniors dignity, comfort, independence and the continued enjoyment of their homes.

Mature Marketing, Baby Boomer Life Transitions

Jul 31

Mature Marketing, Baby Boomer Life Transitions

In our latest Mature Marketing series, we have been discussing how Baby Boomers have entered a particularly dynamic period of life, filled with ongoing changes and transitions.  This post will focus on the some changes they are experiencing in the family and at home and some of the implications these transitions have for marketers.

  • Children Move Out/Become Grandparent – 83% of older Boomers no longer have children living with them.  85% are grandparents with an average of 4.8 grandchildren. AARP reports the average of age of first-time grandparents is 47. Grandparents represent a $50 billion dollar market. 96% report spending money on their grandchildren with 25% spending $1,000 or more per year.
  • Becoming a Caregiver –13% of older Boomers are caring for an aged parent or relative.  Although the percentage of Boomer caregivers has held steady over the past five years, the number of hours spent in caregiving has increased significantly. Nearly a quarter of Boomer caregivers are providing care 20 or more hours per week. As the caregiver responsibilities increase, these Boomers are likely to be in the market for support services and products. It is estimated that caregivers spend between $5,000-$12,000 per year on a variety of caregiving supplies and services.

For many Baby Boomers, the life’s major events propel them into unfamiliar territory and unleash a host of information and product needs.  According to AARP, more life events occur between the ages of 50-65 than in any other time in a person’s life. The typical Boomer experiences an average of two major life events around career, family, finance or health each year.

With wave after wave of Boomers passing through many of the same experiences, marketers who respond effectively to Baby Boomer life events will reap the rewards for many years to come. Bodden Partners has over 30 years experience testing and refining marketing messages for the mature market. If you would like to learn more about how Bodden Partners is helping our clients successfully navigate and leverage life events, contact Marty Mitchell at

Mature Marketing, Helping Baby Boomers Navigate Change

Jul 09

Our last post touched upon the special skills required for life event marketing. Life events can cause consumers to become uniquely receptive and predisposed to information and services related to the event at hand. However, in order to be successful, marketers need to be sensitive to the stress, confusion and distraction that consumers experience during major life changes.

Bodden Partners has specialized expertise in reaching the emotional levers that drive consumer purchase behavior. Therefore when Transamerica engaged us to market their Medsupp and Medicare prescription plans to hundreds of their affinity partners, we devised a creative strategy that not only sold the product but also supported the consumer through this life transition.

Research revealed that most people are overwhelmed by the number of Medicare insurance plans, the complexities within those plans and the time and effort needed to determine prescription drug choices and out of pocket costs. To further complicate matters, the Transamerica product is an exclusive program offered only to select government agencies, credit unions, associations and employee groups. Some groups fully customized their marketing materials while others preferred to use Transamerica’s messaging.

The marketing program we developed not only sold the product but also reinforced the affinity between the various groups and its members. We designed a web experience and offline direct mail and collateral that could be customized to the needs of each of Transamerica’s hundreds of affinity partners. The images, messaging and calls to action acknowledged the challenges of this life change, while making consumers feel supported, respected, motivated and empowered.  If you would like to know more about our approach to life event marketing, contact Marty Mitchell

In our next post we will continue to explore some of the unique life transitions that Boomers are experiencing and the marketing implications for Mature Marketers.

Mature Marketing, Baby Boomer Life Events

Jul 03

In our last post, we discussed the power of life events to create purchasing behaviors. In this post we will be taking a closer look at some of the major life events affecting Baby Boomers and the implications of these findings for marketers of products and services targeted to the mature market.

  • Retirement – Contrary to popular myth, most Boomers are not putting off retirement.  The first wave of Boomers are now 67 years old and more than half (52%) of them are fully retired and no longer working. The average age at which they retired was 59.5. Those still working plan, on average, to work to age 71. Financial services marketers are expecting a surge of business that will last well into next 20 years. With over half the investable assets in this country, upcoming waves of retiring Boomers will be actively searching for money management advice and guidance.
  • Collecting Social Security – Even though many Boomers continue to work, 86% are collecting Social Security benefits. For many Boomers, along with Social Security comes Medicare. Pew Research Center estimates that 10,000 Americans turn 65 everyday, the minimum age required to qualify for Medicare.  More than 62.3 million people are expected by enrolled by 2020. The market for Medsupp and Medicare Advantage products is expected to increase significantly.

For many Baby Boomers, the above life events also represent a major change in their financial situation. Decisions around retirement, Social Security and Medicare can be overwhelmingly complex. Consumers going though major transitions are often confused, anxious and distracted. Therefore life event marketing requires special communication skills. Marketers not only need to time their life event offers correctly, but also ensure their messaging is empathetic and supportive.

In our next post, we will discuss how marketers can effectively achieve the dual objectives of communicating product benefits while supporting the consumer through a life transition.

Mature Marketing, the Power of Baby Boomer Life Events

Jun 20

Marketers have long recognized the power of life event triggers to create purchasing behaviors. It is estimated that 75% of consumers who seek financial advice do so because of a major life event.

Life event marketers will find a rich target with today’s Baby Boomers. They lead diverse and dynamic lives and are experiencing an increasing number of changes and needs as they age. According to AARP, the typical Boomer experiences an average of two major life events around career, family, finance or health each year.

Events such as retirement, adult children leaving home, becoming a grandparent, becoming a caregiver to an aging spouse or parent and other major life transitions often trigger a need for products and services to help them navigate their new circumstances.

The MetLife Mature Market Institute recently took a detailed look at the life events that are currently impacting the first wave of Boomers, born in 1946 after World War II.  In upcoming installments of the Mature Marketing blog, Bodden Partners will be discussing these findings and the implications they have for life event marketers.

Mature Marketing, The Caregiver Marketplace

May 23

Family caregivers are a vital and growing, but often overlooked marketplace. There are approximately 66 million caregivers performing a variety of tasks and making any number of purchasing decisions, ranging from buying food for special diets to shopping for medical equipment and supplies to arranging for outside care.

A recent survey revealed that caregivers spend on average anywhere from $5,000-$12,000 annually out of their own pockets caring for loved ones. Some participants in the survey were asked to keep detailed spending diaries, others simply estimated their expenses. Those who kept written diaries reported much higher levels of spending which may suggest that caregivers are underestimating the amount and the frequency of the purchases they make on behalf of their loved ones.

The largest categories of caregiver spending varied between paid home care assistance and medical expenses. The medical expense category included prescription and OTC drugs, co-pays and insurance premiums. Other categories tracked in the study were medical equipment and supplies, personal care products and home modifications. Caregivers also report purchasing cleaning and yard maintenance services and pet care products and services.  Given the levels and frequency of caregiver spending, marketers offering these products should strongly consider adding caregivers to their target audience.

Not only are caregivers major buyers but they are also key influencers in healthcare purchase decisions. A study by The Caregiver’s Advisory Panel (TCAP) discovered that 96% of caregivers influence decisions regarding the purchase of caregiving health products, and 79% of caregivers purchase all or nearly all of those products. In our experience, caregivers are also very influential in the purchase of a host of financial products and services including long term care insurance, life insurance, Medicare supplement insurance and related products.

Caregiver marketing is rewarding yet challenging, in large part because caregivers are not easily identified. In a future edition of this blog we will discuss caregiver targeting in greater detail. Please join the discussion.