Is Healthcare Missing a Generational Opportunity?

I think a lot about some of the new marketing tactics being used by consumer product companies – sponsorship (e.g., McDonalds Holiday Lights at the Beach Presented by Verizon Wireless), advertisements or product placement in video games, corporate tattoos, YouTube videos, MySpace personas, and Second Life avatars. Logically, who cares about most of these for healthcare. The primary users of healthcare are the senior population…and they aren’t being influenced by these channels. The corporate buyers are the HR or benefit professionals…many of whom have professional consultants (e.g., Hewitt, Mercer). Branding is often an afterthought within healthcare.  [Can you image a company working with the reality show Survivor to make sure that one of their competitions earned the winner a personal healthcare coach sponsored by Cigna (for example) for a year?]

BUT, we all know that health insurance (or any insurance) company is not typically viewed as a trusted entity looking out for your best interest. (As one of my old bosses used to say…how many times are you going out to dinner with your health care broker each year?) I guess my point is why are some of the key players thinking out 20 years and trying to figure out how to influence the younger generation and show healthcare as an entity that works to make their life better (e.g., have a video game where buying health insurance makes your character recover faster from injuries).

For example, I believe most people have a great impression of architects as humane people based on The Brady Bunch’s depiction of the father figure who was an architect. The lead character in Spike Lee‘s movie, Jungle Fever, was an architect. Have you ever seen a movie where the lead character was the VP of claims at a managed care company or the CEO of a PBM? There needs to be someone out there thinking big picture and looking at what it will take over time to change the perception of healthcare because perception is ultimately reality so we have to address both. Fix the problem and get people to believe that we fixed the problem.

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