Healthcare

Providence Health & Services: Protecting Health Care Benefits for Seniors and Children

Providence Health & Services: Protecting Health Care Benefits for Seniors and Children

Overview

When federal legislation threatened to severely reduce health care benefits for seniors covered under Providence Health Plan, the CFM Federal Lobbying team crafted a comprehensive strategy to avoid the cuts and loss of member benefits. The goal was to preserve Medicare Advantage, which provides coverage to the majority of Oregon seniors. CFM’s plan enabled Congress to preserve benefits to Northwest seniors as well as extend children’s health care coverage to 15 million more kids.

Challenge

A cut of $150 billion to Medicare Advantage was proposed to pay for an expansion of children’s health insurance. Because Medicare Advantage traditionally is considered a Republican program, most Democrats were eager to dismantle it. That political dynamic – along with the unpopularity of for-profit insurance companies and the laudatory mission of providing coverage for children – created significant momentum for these cuts.

Approach

CFM mobilized Medicare beneficiaries, as well as state and local leaders, in a coordinated effort to communicate how the proposed cuts would disproportionately harm Oregonians. CFM also worked with the Governor’s office to demonstrate that preserving benefits for seniors was truly a non-partisan issue. Working closely with our delegation, CFM helped devise an alternative pay-for, in the form of an increased tax on tobacco products, to expand children’s health insurance.

Result

As a result, CFM helped create a coalition of Democratic Members of Congress to go against their party leaders and support the Medicare Advantage program. Congress ultimately passed a significant tobacco increase to pay for children’s health insurance expansion. Funding for Medicare Advantage and benefits to Oregon seniors were preserved.

Providence Health & Services: Health Care for Low-Income Persons

Overview

Providence Health & Services: Health Care for Low-Income Persons

Providence Health & Services, the largest health care system in Oregon with eight hospitals spread throughout the state, as well as a number of special programs for children, families and senior citizens, has a long and intentional mission to serve the less fortunate in the state. It is a commitment that dates back to the founding of the system. For health care in Oregon, this sense of mission means, among other things, serving persons covered by the Oregon Health Plan, which is the state's name for Medicaid.

Challenge

As the recession choked off the supply of general funds for state programs, legislators turned in 2003, 2007 and 2009 to a desire to enact hospital and health insurance taxes to raise money. Providence had questions about the policy justice of taxing providers, but in each of those years participated in good faith to design the best taxes possible – taxes that would be charged to hospitals and insurers, with assurance that the proceeds would go to fund low income health care.

Approach

CFM's role was to advise Providence on the tax policy, plus monitor negotiations in Salem, with an eye toward being able to give executives a clear sense of the political give-and-take, as well as the final outcome. If the health care taxes made policy sense, the money had to go for two purposes – fund low-income health and reduce the cost shift to private health insurance bills as a result of state government underfunding of the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid).

Result

With CFM's help, Providence, along with other hospitals and insures throughout, produced consensus versions of both the hospital and health insurance tax. On the hospital, the most recent version of the tax, negotiated in the 2009 legislative session, resulted in an increase in reimbursement to hospitals under the state's Medicaid program, thus reducing the cost shift. On the insurance tax, the proceeds were directed to funding increases in children receiving health insurance, perhaps in the range of 80,000 new covered lives.

Combining Social Media and Traditional Research

Overview

Young adults are a key part of the consumer market. A client wanted to know what this important demographic groups thought about a new health care product.

Challenge

Finding, recruiting and getting young women and men to participate in live focus groups. The demographic group moves often, typically does not have a landline telephone and does not use traditional media to get information.

Approach

Recognizing young adults are more likely to be online than have a landline, CFM used Facebook ads to recruit two focus groups among men and women age 19 to 29. Using Facebook’s administration tool, CFM found more than 35,000 young adults in the Portland market interested in health care. We were able to place ads where our target audience would see them. An online screening survey helped to identify the type of young men and women wanted for the research, including questions to ensure participants were communicators.

Result

The initial feedback from the client…”Wow we learned a lot.” Using Facebook ads, CFM was able to recruit 15 men and 15 women for two focus groups. In the sessions, the young adults described the product features they preferred, how they wanted to use and not use social media to learn about health care and why some young adults don’t have health insurance.

Regional Health Care Provider: Including Customers in Designing Ad Concepts

Overview

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At a time when marketing dollars are tight, companies can ill-afford making mistakes by not thoroughly vetting every phase of their marketing efforts. Advertising is no exception. A health care client wanted to be sure its proposed new advertising campaign motivated targeted groups to switch to their services.

Challenge

Test several advertising concepts among narrowly defined groups of people to assess creative concepts and determine the effectiveness of the ads.

Approach

Focus groups are an effective way to test advertising concepts. CFM planned and conducted seven focus groups, among consumers and business decision makers in several markets, to determine how well advertising concepts met goals and objectives.

Result

Groups liked but didn’t love the ads. Basic concepts were sound, but group participants recommended changes to make the ads believable, relevant and motivating. Armed with the customer information, the creative team redesigned the ads with positive results. Sales increased, requests for proposals increased and hits on Web-based marketing increased. The ad campaign also won regional and international awards. 

Providence Health & Services: Using Consumer Panels for Research and Engagement

Overview

Meeting and exceeding patient expectations is key to growth in health care. People share experiences, good and bad. Providence wanted a better way to measure satisfaction and to listen to and engage customers.

Challenge

Develop a research tool that allowed the client to interview thousands of patients statewide, using both surveys and focus groups, in a four-month period and on a limited budget.

Approach

CFM recommended using Web-based panel research to help gather quantitative and qualitative information to support development of a comprehensive marketing plan.

Result

In less than three months, CFM conducted two online surveys among 3,000 Providence patients and five Web-based focus groups on specific topics. Results helped the organization determine how well Providence is meeting patient expectations, measure customer satisfaction across 21 physician clinics in a four-county area, test ad concepts, assess preferences for online communication tools and engage patients about how and to whom they talk about key health care issues.

Providence Health & Services: Maintaining Funding for Disabled Children Center

Overview

Oregon's governor proposed significant budget cuts in 2001 for nursing homes, which includes the Providence Child Care Center in Portland that serves profoundly disabled children.

Challenge

Competition for state funds grew increasingly tough as the state began to dip into recession, tightening state tax revenue.

Approach

Representing the Providence Health System, CFM implemented a grassroots communications strategy that energized families of the children, employees at the center and other advocates to write or e-mail legislators. The cards rolled in emphasizing the importance of the center as a one-of-a-kind facility. Next, CFM invited the House Speaker and key Ways and Means Committee members to tour the center, seeing first-hand the caring, home-like setting.

Result

The strategy worked as lawmakers restored the spending cuts proposed by the governor. The outreach proved valuable a year later when plummeting state tax revenues forced more spending cuts and the governor again put nursing home payments on the chopping block. Once again, lawmakers rebalanced the budget without cutting funds for facilities such as the Providence Child Care Center.

Providence Health & Services: Creating a Safe Workplace for Nurses

Overview

When a major employee union came to the Oregon Capitol in 2005 contending that nursing executives at Oregon hospitals condoned violence against nurses, leaders at Providence Health System became concerned.

Challenge

Nothing could have been further from the truth. The challenge was convincing lawmakers not to take unneeded action.

Approach

Capitalizing on the credentials of nursing executives and the long history of Providence's mission-oriented service in Oregon, CFM opposed the need for legislation, emphasizing that hospitals in Oregon have a major stake in preserving safe workplaces.

Result

The union-sponsored nurse violence bill did not pass in 2005, and CFM began working with other stakeholders to craft more reasonable legislation heading into the 2007 session – legislation that has the potential to garner support from unions and management alike.

Southwest Washington Medical Center: Getting the Logo Right

Overview

One of Washington state's largest medical centers decided to change its logo to provide better support of its marketing goals.

Challenge

Southwest Washington Medical Center’s graphic designer developed three alternative images. But opinions were mixed about which was best.

Approach

CFM recommended conducting a series of focus groups. Doctors liked the logo with lots of gold, which they said looked impressive. Hospital staff preferred the logo with a boxy design, closely resembling the existing logo. Consumers liked the third option because it best met the marketing objectives of the medical center.

Result

The research drew suggestions from consumers for improving the design, which were incorporated and re-tested, receiving high praise. The new logo was launched, signaling a new direction for the medical center that focused on outstanding care, community involvement and customer service.