Late in the summer, Modern Healthcare ran a story about the increase in the number of hospitals asking executive search firms for physician candidates to fill CEO roles. Once isolated to academic medical centers, community health systems and integrated delivery systems of all sizes increasingly are filling their top leadership positions with physician talent.

Confirming the trend, several of Texas’ largest hospital systems — Memorial Hermann, Harris Health and Tenet — recently announced new executive leadership, all of whom are physicians. They’ll join the current physician leadership already in place at the state’s largest public hospital, Parkland Health & Hospital System, in Dallas.

This shift has implications for companies marketing their product or service to hospitals.

  1. Physicians understand health care. While a seemingly obvious statement, it means that companies looking to partner with hospitals must demonstrate a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of health care. Not the medical aspects but the financing, payment and delivery trends shaping the industry. No longer can a third party propose to offer a technology or other solution without demonstrating a deep understanding of hospitals’ real problems and challenges and marrying that solution to the actual problem.
  2. Physicians understand data….and data fatigue. Physicians value objective evidence, facts and data above all else.But, they also chafe against tools and practices that limit their autonomy and decision-making independence. And, no other profession is as frustrated and burned out as a result of the EMR implementation debacle. Any company offering a new technology tool or SaaS must keep this duality of thought around data front and center and communicate how its offering truly reduces data fatigue and eliminates obstacles in the patient-physician relationship.
  3. Physicians are used to delayed gratification. They go to school and train for a long, long, long time. Even the shortest path to practice is 11 years. Companies that think that their product or service will have a fast track to contract in a physician-led hospital should reconsider. Being prepared for a long sales cycle and ensuring that each step of the sales and due diligence process is taken seriously and all encounters given full analysis and preparation are vitally important.

The trend of physician leaders in the c-suite is a significant opportunity as they look at ways to solve problems and challenges from a clinical perspective, and they come ready with the skill and ability to process large volumes of information quickly. It also means sales and marketing teams selling into hospitals must have their communications and marketing operations organized with key details that speak to physician leaders’ priorities and consider their differences in background, perspectives and education.  High-quality marketing techniques must merge the efforts of teams from sales, communications and product development to ensure striking the right chord with this target audience to:

  • Build top of mind awareness.
  • Hone reputation.
  • Close deals on a shorter sales cycle.

Contact Groundswell Health for help building your company’s marketing strategy to appeal to this different breed of hospital CEO.

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