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Lehigh Valley Health Network's 'Moneyball' marketing strategy attracts insured patients

Health system's marketing team uses data to target higher-paying commercially insured consumers to balance growing Medicare demographic.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Credit: Lehigh Valley Health NetworkCredit: Lehigh Valley Health Network

As providers use analytics to drive population health, so are marketing departments taking advantage of data and social media to target new consumers.

Lehigh Valley Health Network in Pennsylvania, for instance, is netting an increase in appointments from consumers who have commercial insurance.

An estimated 10,000 clicks on targeted digital, Facebook and other social media ads have converted 4,500 consumers; 60 percent of these are commercially insured, according to Dan Lavelle, the administrator of Marketing at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

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"To me, that's the moneyball number," said John Marzano, Vice President Marketing and Public Affairs. "We kind of coined this 'healthcare marketing moneyball' after what Billy Beane did in baseball."

"'Moneyball' is the book and movie centered on Billy Beane's chase for a win using baseball statistics. Beane, then general manager of the Oakland Athletics, is now executive vice president of baseball operations and minority owner in the team.

Healthcare marketing has changed dramatically in the last five years, and those hired to do the job need to keep up, according to  Marzano, who with Lavelle, is speaking at HIMSS18 in Las Vegas.

"Five years ago, we'd talk about what doctor to put on a billboard," Marzano said. "Historically we were probably 75 to 80 percent traditional marketing. And now we're almost 50/50 digital vs. traditional. We're using the same budgeted dollars as allocated over the same fiscal years."

Lehigh Valley works closely with clinical leaders to target message campaigns for such services as prostate exams. Banner ads appeared on Facebook. When someone in nearby Hazleton did an online search for prostate cancer, the program in Allentown popped up.

"We invest ad dollars to win that top page search," Marzano said.

The health system has recently run an estimated 22 campaigns for  mammography, orthopedics and hernia screenings, among others.

"Digital is such an immediate thing," Lavelle said. "We can track all of these things to understand not only how many people click on an ad, but how many made appointments."

One reason to drive commercial business is demographics. An aging baby boomer population will increase the Medicare business in the area by 50 percent or more in the next decade. At a lower reimbursement rate, Lehigh Valley needs the commercial dollars to balance that out.

Gone are the days when hospitals could tout their benefits through advertising alone. The competition, and in Pennsylvania UPMC is creeping ever eastward, demands that the chief marketing officer  become friendly with chief information officer to leverage data to grow the hospital's population.

"It's not about us anymore, it's about the consumer," Marzano said. "We need to be there with the information at their moment of need. They have to select us rather than competition." 

Marzano and Lavelle are scheduled to speaking during the HIMSS18 session, "Leverage Data to Improve Patient Engagement and Growth," on Wednesday, March 7 at 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. in the Venetian, Palazzo B.

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Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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