Integrating Employer & Physician Marketing – When outreach efforts to employers and physicians are well coordinated, a health system can improve both financial performance and health outcomes.

SHSMD Spectrum Jan-Feb 2016 01.26.2016

Integrating Employer and Physician Marketing

When outreach efforts to employers and physicians are well-coordinated, a health system can improve both financial performance and health outcomes.

By Kathy Rhoad

In its white paper entitled “Managing Populations, Maximizing Technology,” the nonprofit Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative listed 10 recommendations for achieving comprehensive population health management.1 Among those recommenda-tions are: risk stratification, automated out-reach, and advanced population analytics. At Regional Medical Center (RMC) in Orangeburg, South Carolina, we’ve imple-mented these three important recommen-dations by strategically integrating our employer relationship marketing (ERM) and physician relationship marketing (PRM) programs. This coordinated effort to enhance both ERM and PRM has helped maximize fee-for-service revenue as our organization transitions to value-based care and popula-tion health management. It is important to note that “relationship marketing” is different from traditional forms of sales and marketing in that it recognizes the value of long-term engagement and ex-tends communication beyond advertising and promotional messages. The goal is to cre-ate exceptional experiences that foster strong, emotional connections to a brand, which lead to new and ongoing business. Like many healthcare organizations across the country, RMC has implemented relationship market-ing strategies and technologies to enhance employer/employee and physician loyalty. Through relationship-building activities, data analysis, and database marketing, a health system can more effectively promote its services and physicians to area residents with the great-est health needs (e.g., diabetics, smokers, those without a primary care physician, those who would benefit from preventive screenings). By effectively engaging at-risk employees in the workplace, a health system can improve their outcomes while lowering the disproportion-ately high cost of their care.

Removing Silos
It’s not unusual for a health system to have distinct ERM and PRM programs, but it is rare for them to be coordinated. At RMC, our employer and physician marketing team members are part of the same hospital department and utilize the same marketing tools. RMC’s service area includes about 140 major employers with nearly 20,000 em-ployees, many of the latter whom suffer from chronic conditions. Our joint ERM/PRM program stratifies high-risk employees in an effort to connect them with appropriate providers and services. Employers benefit from this approach because at-risk employees (typically about 15 percent of the workforce) account for nearly three-quarters of a company’s health-care expenditures. Likewise, providers ben-efit because RMC’s database marketing initiatives encourage those employees to seek testing and treatment. RMC uses a data analytics platform to create low-cost direct mail campaigns tar-geted to at-risk employees. For example, for the price of printing and bulk mailing a letter to approximately 8,000 employees, RMC generated over $9 million in total charges in 2014. There was also a corresponding 32.4 percent increase in referral growth from our affiliated physicians and a 13 percent increase from independent providers during that same fiscal year.

Engagement Strategy
RMC’s joint ERM/PRM initiative requires ongoing outreach to both area employers/employees and referring physicians. Physicians are targeted via RMC’s Physician Link newsletter and service line messaging—plus onsite educational events. The program reaches employees at open-enrollment events, health fairs, flu shot clinics, and health awareness events. The RMC team also creates a “health informa-tion center” visual for display at employer sites and physician offices that highlights specific health issues, and provides branded, take-away collateral materials. Through onsite health screenings, RMC surveys employees to produce confidential, individualized health profiles, which are shared with each employee in the form of a personal health report. The RMC team then provides the em-ployer with an aggregate group health profile that assesses the overall health of its employ-ees. The report is accompanied by a detailed cost analysis showing how the employer can reduce healthcare spending if specific em-ployee health goals are achieved.

Single Database Drives All Elements
RMC uses a single data platform as the engine for all of its outreach efforts and reporting. The platform is the central data repository, which generates group/ personal health profiles, human re-sources-oriented cost analyses, personal health reports, and database marketing/ direct mail initiatives.

Measuring Relationship Marketing Performance
RMC’s joint ERM/PRM program achieved synergy and ROI in 2014 that neither pro-gram could have accomplished alone. The ERM program added eight new employers and 1,084 new personal health profiles to the employer database. RMC conducted 22 employer health screening events and 14 health educational seminars. The PRM program logged 1,143 physi-cian contacts and conducted “roadshows” that reached 106 physicians, 160 mid-level providers, and their office staff. The joint ERM/PRM initiative produced database marketing campaigns that achieved the following results in 2014:

● Letters sent: 7,677
● Episodes of care: 1,606
● New patients: 87
● Total charges: $9,253,168

All healthcare systems should be focused on the shift to value-based care and population health management. By tightly integrating ERM and PRM programs, a health system can successfully begin that transition, maximizing fee-for-service revenue while creating a large repository of population health data. When ERM and PRM programs are jointly managed, a health system can achieve better health outcomes while improving financial performance.

Lessons Learned
● Integrating employer relationship marketing (ERM) and physician relationship marketing (PRM) programs maximizes a health system’s resources. 

● Ongoing coordination of ERM and PRM programs is essential.

● Consistent reporting to executive leadership is required to garner and maintain support for an integrated program.

● A single data platform which drives all initiatives is highly beneficial.

● Targeted database marketing has measurable ROI.

Kathy Rhoad
Marketing Director
Regional Medical Center
Orangeburg, SC
Phone: (803) 395-4678

1 Managing Populations, Maximizing Technology, Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative, October 2013. (

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