Illustration of the medical symbol with dollar signs in the background2010 marked the beginning of a seismic shift in the healthcare industry. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed, ushering in a new healthcare payment model. The model, value-based care, links payment for care to provider performance, not patient volume.

Ten years later, COVID-19 exploded on the scene, upending life — and healthcare — as we knew it. But the disruption has only served to accelerate healthcare’s transition to value-based medicine.

Why is that? And what does the shift mean for marketing value-based care? Let’s break it down.

What is value-based care?

Value-based care is a type of reimbursement model that rewards doctors for helping people lead healthier lives. The emphasis is on improving patient outcomes and lowering overall costs.

In this model, doctors are rewarded for providing care that helps keep people well and out of the hospital. That includes preventive care to keep chronic conditions like diabetes from developing.

The traditional healthcare delivery model, fee-for-service, pays doctors for the number of services they provide. Doctors are motivated to schedule more tests and procedures. And to increase their number of patients.

Why is value-based care important?

Value-based medicine puts patients at the center of their care. Patients and providers act as partners. They work together to develop a treatment plan that best meets the patient’s needs and goals. They also prioritize quality of life.

Providers work as comprehensive teams in this care model. Members may include care managers, doctors, nurses and others, such as physical therapists and nutritionists. Everyone on the team collaborates to share patient data, coordinate treatments and measure outcomes.

Benefits of value-based care include better patient outcomes, lower costs for patients, greater provider efficiency, and a healthier overall patient population.

What was COVID-19’s impact on value-based care?

COVID-19 sped up the healthcare industry’s adoption of telehealth. When the virus forced many health systems to pause non-essential services, the industry had to adjust. Virtual health visits served as a lifeline — a way for doctors to meet patients where they were. Often, that meant in patients’ homes.

Today, the industry’s reliance on telehealth is waning. While 32% of office and outpatient visits took place via telehealth in April 2020, the number has since ranged between 13% to 17%. Now, many health systems are embracing a hybrid approach to care, one that combines both virtual and in-person visits. That includes at-home services like blood draws and testing. It also includes retail health clinics that give patients more in-person care options closer to home.

The industry’s current focus is helping providers deliver high-quality, comprehensive care — in lower-cost, more convenient settings. Sound similar to the goals of value-based healthcare? We thought so.

Marketing value-based care

Now let’s get back to what all this means to you as a healthcare marketer.

The value-based care model is designed to improve patient outcomes and meet patients where they are. So, naturally, marketing value-based care should follow suit. But what does that entail?

Here are five ways you can showcase your health system’s value-based care initiatives:

1. Make the patient the hero of your story

Talk about your improved patient outcomes. Tell your patient stories. Feature your patients in campaigns. Let them describe your brand for you.

But don’t just give your patient heroes the limelight. You can also serve them. Make sure you’re answering their questions wherever they’re asking them. That could be on your website, over the phone or on social media. Did you determine from site search data that a lot of people are asking about anxiety during the pandemic? Provide them with useful resources that could help, like a Q&A with a doctor or a relevant blog post.

Look for ways to help patients and prospective patients however you can. And make sure your content is easy to access and digest.

2. Engage in persona marketing

Just as doctors and hospitals are shifting from one-size-fits-all to personalized treatment, so should you when marketing value-based care. That means connecting with consumers through customized experiences.

Personalize your content depending on your audience. Use segmented marketing strategies to divide your target audience into smaller groups. Use social listening to determine what those groups are talking about and what they’re looking for you to provide. Create fictional patients that represent your different target audience groups. For instance, is one of your target demographics young adults? Create a tailored marketing strategy for that group by meeting them where they are. That could include writing a blog about starting a family or sending an email with information on how to move off a parent’s health plan.

Next, measure your results. What percentage of your target audience actually clicked on that email? Analyze the data and adjust as needed.

ACOs explained

Learn more about ACOs in this video

3. Promote your network

Have some rock-star doctors on your team? Let them shine. Value-based care focuses on meeting patients where they are, so get your doctors active on social media. (A whopping three-quarters of the U.S. population uses a social network.) Sign up your providers for LinkedIn or Twitter (or both). Ask them to promote upcoming classes or community events. They can share articles they deem helpful and engage with followers. That helps people by providing them with resources and information. It also helps to humanize the doctor for your target population.

Just make sure to brief doctors on your company’s social media policies in advance. And regularly check their feeds. They might not have time to respond to people every day. You could either help the doctor keep up with responses or manage the account yourself. (With their blessing, of course.)

4. Pursue community partnerships

Healthcare will continue to move out of the hospital and into the community. To keep up with the trend, marketers need to promote these partnerships. They also need to look for chances to align with local agencies.

Propose a 5K run for Alzheimer’s awareness with proceeds benefiting a local nonprofit. Or host a lunch-and-learn event at a community center and ask one of your providers to lead a discussion on heart disease risk.

5. Go visual

Don’t just tell your audience you’re delivering value-based care. Show them.

A 2020 study found that nearly 13 million older adults don’t feel ready to use telehealth. To help, create a video that explains how the virtual tool works. Keep it as simple as possible and provide a step-by-step overview.

You could also create a short film explaining your health system’s safety precautions. The video could help people visualize the ways you’re working to keep them safe.

COVID-19 has disrupted every aspect of life, including healthcare. But it’s also proven that value-based healthcare is here to stay and only gaining ground. Savvy healthcare marketers should take note.

Do you need help showcasing value-based care in your healthcare marketing? WriterGirl’s team of healthcare writers and strategists partner with your organization to create content that resonates with your audience. Send us a message any time to learn more about how we can support your content marketing initiatives.