Posted in on July 25, 2017

LeadingAge PA Outtakes – Specific Ideas from General Sessions, Part III

Editor’s Note: Several of Creating Results’ leaders recently attended the annual LeadingAge Pennsylvania conference. Team members had the privilege of both presenting our insights and learning from other presenters. This series of posts shares some OUTtakes and INsights for marketing to seniors and Baby Boomers.


SESSION: “How the Macroeconomics of Healthcare and Shifting Demographics are Changing the Future of Aging Services”

SPEAKER: James Orlikoff, consultant named one of the 100 most powerful people in healthcare

Photo Source: Southeast Missourian

Orlikoff noted that big trends such as macroeconomics and demographics are already impacting providers of health services to older adults. These have given consumers more choice than ever before, which is actually a risk to providers.


The average consumer can not only choose your competitors, he/she can choose not to use the service at all. (Most American consumers do not have enough cash to purchase care on their own, so they’ll stop using healthcare and/or default on medical bills.)

To stay relevant regardless of whatever curve ball the healthcare game may pitch next, Orlikoff encouraged attendees to focus on four strategies:

  1. Reframe affordability so that the emphasis is on the value given at the stated price.
  2. Prepare for a rise in healthcare consumerism by considering the customer’s enjoyment / engagement. “As the patients become consumers, how can we make ourselves relevant to them? How can we reduce their costs? How can we improve their experience?”
  3. Improve quality and safety.
  4. Improve leadership. “We’ve got to upgrade our governance and leadership to ask the tough questions and make the tough decisions that are going to maintain our organizations to take care of our communities.”


Marketing Implications and Action Items

Orlikoff has been speaking on the topic of consumerism in healthcare for many years. Our team found this slide from a 2015 presentation he delivered along with Huron Healthcare’s Jeff Jones:

We were struck by the #3 variable driving healthcare decisions — “pricing made available ahead of time” — because many senior living providers are starting at a deficit. They don’t include prices on their websites and often won’t reveal costs and fees until leads meet with them in person.

The most recent edition of Creating Results’ Social, Silver Surfers research found great frustration among senior living consumers over these practices.

As Don, a continuing care retirement community resident in his 70s told us,

“I rarely ever find anything adequate about pricing on just about anything. It drives me crazy. You have to click and say order before they’ll tell you what you’ll pay. [It makes me feel] suspicious. Anybody who tells you anything is telling you a fraction of the facts.”

68% of recent movers (people aged 40 or older who had moved within the last two years) report their #1 pet peeve with housing websites is that they don’t say the price.

Orlikoff is challenging providers to improve the experience for prospects. Sharing pricing (or at least price ranges) on websites is one way to begin.


Consumerism in healthcare means providers have to improve their messaging. Marketing will play a greater role as there are a greater number of choices.

  • The most effective marketing will be customer-centric. It will reflect consumers’ priorities.
  • The most effective marketing also will connect on an emotional level. You’ll want to use stories to back up data proving that your organization leads on quality or safety measures.
  • Finally, it will be important that marketing leaders have a place at the table, asking those tough questions Orlikoff mentions and helping to frame the answers for consumers.


What are YOUR questions / answers, related to this post, this series or this conference? We welcome your comments.

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