Written by: Lisa Montague
The marketing adage that says it’s cheaper to retain customers than it is to find new ones is one that undoubtedly rings true for medical groups. The cost of acquiring new Medicare Advantage (MA) members is 5-10x higher than retaining them.  When medical groups focus all their efforts on new member acquisition to grow their MA patient base, they are overlooking a significant and more cost-efficient audience: their current fee-for-service patients aging in and their current Original Medicare patients.
Medicare at its core is perplexing enough and it has recently become framed by an ever-changing landscape that includes new regulations, the acquisition of medical groups, medical advancements, etc. Furthermore, according to Kaiser Family Foundation, the volume of information seniors are exposed to during the enrollment period frustrates them. They are often confused and feel unqualified to act, so they are looking for clarity from trusted sources they are familiar with.  Most often, these sources include their medical group, so it has become increasingly important that you are there to answer existing patients’ questions about Medicare, educate them on the benefits of a Medicare Advantage plan and encourage them to review and consider their options. Make sure your team, everyone from doctors to operations, is leveraging the close relationship they have with patients by taking the time to get your message across.
How to Target the Patient
In addition to in-clinic efforts, there are other outside channels you can use to target existing patients. Using these channels to market to existing patients should require less effort and cost than it does to reach potential patients. Existing patients are already familiar with your brand and (hopefully!) have a positive association with it. As a result, they are more likely to respond to the call-to-action (CTA) of your ad, direct mail piece, e-blast, etc.
According to a 2017 Deft Research study, the top mediums Age-Ins (seniors turning 65) use when shopping for Medicare coverage include direct mail and the Internet. The study states that direct mail is not only generally important, but is also an effective means of reaching seniors, regardless of how engaged they are in the shopping process.  Direct mail is one of the best offline channels to pique interest or to drive them to search online for more information. Aesthetically, the direct mail piece should grab their attention — such as using an official-looking envelope — to entice the recipient to open it and include large fonts,  as well as bullet points and graphs/charts that convey the benefits of a MA plan.  Make sure you are communicating effectively and properly with the audience through not only what you are saying, but the pictures you are showing. Create urgency with a CTA – deadline to enroll, a way to RSVP to a sales event or educational event, etc.
Baby Boomers today are more tech-savvy than any Medicare-eligible group that came before them. They are researching online to learn about health information and Medicare options.  This means you want to be in front of your current aging-in patients, both in person and online. Gather insights from your website via Google Analytics, look for high traffic pages, add call-to-action buttons, and integrate specific keywords into rich content. Then focus your efforts on paid search media based on those keywords as well as branded keywords. In addition, timely email campaigns that nurture Age-In prospects through the decision process is also key.  Be sure to integrate the offers from your direct mail into your digital strategy. The goal is to engage and get patients to opt in before the competition reaches them.
When to Target the Patient
Medicare marketing takes place during two essential time periods – when prospects turn 65 (Age-In) and the Annual Election Period (AEP). According to a Deft Research study, you should start marketing to Age-In prospects 9 months prior to them turning 65. Among Age-Ins who have considered a transition to Medicare, the rate of shopping climbs steadily as age 65 approaches. The study indicates that during AEP, most respond to a direct mail piece or advertisement within the first 2 weeks of AEP and then again in the last 2 weeks of AEP.  Again, these are your patients that are Medicare-eligible, so you should already have an established relationship with them and can anticipate their needs more effectively than you would for a potential patient.
When it comes to growing your MA patient base, you simply can’t afford to not develop a strategic campaign focused on existing patients. You would be doing yourself and your patients an extreme disservice by not educating them on the benefits of Medicare Advantage. Ensure you are getting this information to your patients, or another medical group will.
Let MassMedia Health help you realize your growth with our proven formula for engaging, acquiring and retaining the patients. We bring over a decade of Medicare marketing experience. Put MassMedia Health’s expertise to work for you. Call Paula Yakubik at 702-433-4331 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
 DMN3: 7 Medicare Advantage Marketing Techniques That Work
 Anderson Marketing Blog: 5 Critical Tips for Medicare Direct Mail
 SourceLink: Medicare Advantage Trends to Look for in 2017
 Deft Research: Age-In Study