Prep for the personal health budget land-grab

NHS patients are about to flex their muscle with new rights on personal care budgets.  Health providers need to handle a potential sales and marketing land-grab.  Our six-point communications plan offers some useful manoeuvers.

Personal budgets mean patients can pick the support and services they prefer. Forget ‘nanny’ NHS commissioning for them, from this October patients with long-term conditions can select who they like, at least from a menu of providers.

This personalisation agenda has already changed social care services. The consumer underwhelmed with the council run day care centre has just chosen another.  The grannie bored with meals on wheels has luncheoned in her local café. 

From October, the personal budget becomes a right for children with complex needs and patients with chronic conditions, severe mental health problems or learning disabilities.

NHS England is now developing something called Integrated Personal Commissioning (IPC) to offer consumers a combined health and social care “endowment” fund and local areas in England will bid for pilot schemes in 2015-16.

Such a shift means opportunities for social enterprises and commercial bodies to fight over, but so long as the competitors come in on budget, service, reputation and image will be the way to consumer’s hearts.

 

Communications plan for providers

  1. Think hard about how you engage this new audience of budget holders. These are individuals in serious need of care solutions, not hard sell. They want advice, support and guidance.
  2. Be clear and be sensitive – the consumer might be confused by the range of options and will react negatively to the wrong tone of voice.  Bear this in mind, but don’t patronise either.
  3. Reputation is critical, in health and social care, and so easily dented.  Work on your customer service and treat customer complaints as an opportunity to learn.
  4. Define what drives individual purchasing behaviours, work out the best channels to engage consumers, and remember that family connections, patient groups and trusted experts like GPs will form part of that mix.
  5. Tailor your marketing and PR strategies to make them relevant and appropriate for this emerging and distinct consumer group.
  6. Follow the spirit of the NHS England where the Chief Executive Simon Stevens said recently: “We need to stop treating people as a collection of health problems or treatments (and) treat them as individuals whose choices shape services, not the other way round.” 

 

In other words, personalise!

 

Strike a chord? Wondering where to start?

Contact kay.williamson@gravitaspr.co.uk or call 01242 211 000 for a confidential chat with the MD of Gravitas Public Relations