"What I hope to create is a learning system that gets us good information about the performance of ACOs and why they succeed and why some were less successful," he said. "That allows us to disseminate that knowledge to others so we quickly identify organizational missteps and are able to correct them."
Remember who you're working for
The most insightful part of my interview with Fisher was when he explained how he became interested in getting into healthcare policy when he worked as an ambulance driver in the mid-1970s in Somerville, MA, a suburb of Boston.
"I grew up in Cambridge and I'd see kids with asthma or diabetes die in Somerville because the care they were getting wasn't really good," he said. "The differences were stark between Harvard Square and Davis Square," a less affluent neighborhood in Somerville, a few miles from Harvard. "I thought, maybe I could be involved in health policy because healthcare has so much room to improve in many regions," he says.
Though business strategy tends to top marketers' priority lists, it's also important to pay attention to your audience and how your marketing initiatives can improve their care. As ACOs begin to take hold, much of the marketing department's responsibilities will involve guiding patients to the correct care access point and disseminating useful health information.
As Fisher says, hospitals need to "reassure the public that they're getting better care." And that crucial task falls, at least in part, on marketers.