Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are a hot topic these days. But chances are, you’re quite busy and not in the mood to research them yourself. Well, you’re in luck. We’ve put together a few answers to frequently asked questions about the newest healthcare model:
Q: When I market an ACO, what am I marketing?
A: An Accountable Care Organization (ACO) is a coordinated care program aimed at creating intangible and tangible benefits for participating patients. You are marketing and communicating the benefits of being in an ACO, which are that participating patients have the chance to receive a higher quality of care due to a coordinated effort between their healthcare providers.
Q: Who am I marketing to?
A: ACOs were primarily developed around Medicare and that’s why most of the focus is on Medicare users. Of the 47.5 million Medicare beneficiaries in the U.S. today, 39.6 million of them are over 65 years of age. With that demographic being the base of individuals that would benefit the most from coordinated care, it is important to keep their needs in mind.
Q: How should I communicate with the Medicare population?
A: Your initial goal should be to make sure your patients do not want to opt-out of the program (meaning they choose to not share their medical information, which cancels the idea of coordinated care). Medicare beneficiaries will be wary of any legislation that might change their benefits or threaten to take away their choices. It is important to emphasize that their current situation will not change. Also, be sure to keep the language in all marketing materials simple and with a sense of clarity. There are beneficiaries with varying education levels and it’s important that everyone can access and understand care coordination information.
Q: Is there anything I should emphasize?
A: Assuring beneficiaries that everything will remain the same is very important. Minimizing the government’s involvement with the program will also help ease wary minds (avoid using words like “healthcare reform”). Addressing the audience’s concerns directly will help build peace of mind and convince patients not to opt-out of the program.
Q: Is there anything I should avoid when communicating with the Medicare population?
A: Yes. Avoid fine print whenever possible – very tiny type tends to raise suspicions very quickly and it’s difficult for the senior eyes to read. Also, if you’re including collateral pieces, it’s important to keep your materials informative, but minimal. Overly emphasizing ACO benefits can seem like a dodge, since improvements imply change – often at the cost of something else.
Q: Should I directly involve physicians in marketing the program?
A: Yes! Your physician base will be your main advocate. These doctors have often spent years building trust with their patients; they will be the best ambassadors for your ACO.
Q: Any final thoughts on marketing an ACO?
A: As marketers, we normally plan for the long-term. ACOs are still relatively uncharted territory. Flexibility is key when marketing these organizations. Because of rapid change, be prepared and work accordingly.
Ready for more? Check out the rest of our series on ACOs: