How to Do a Healthcare Industry Competitive Analysis

min read
How to Do a Healthcare Industry Competitive Analysis

“If you know the enemy and yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” 

When Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu wrote the above statement in his treatise The Art of War in the 5th century B.C., he wasn’t talking about healthcare industry competitive analysis. But if he had any inkling about how competitive the 21st century healthcare industry would be, he might have drawn some inspiration from it when developing his guidance for leaders.

As a healthcare provider focused on providing patient care, you may not see your business as a warrior on the field of battle. You may not think of other hospitals and health systems as foes, or that your ongoing competition with them is some type of warfare. But if you look at it all from a pure business perspective, the similarities become clear.

There are winners and losers in any business. And you have a far better chance of winning if you know yourself and your competition in healthcare. That’s why conducting a competitive analysis of the healthcare industry is essential for health systems that want to gain a competitive advantage and seize market share in a landscape brimming with rivals.  

Key Factors Driving Competition in Healthcare

Competition in healthcare in the United States is intense for several reasons, and the government’s role as a protector of the public interest is a top one. 

The Federal Trade Commission actively advocates for competition and enforces rules against firms that engage in anti-competitive conduct. The agency deems competition beneficial to consumers to contain costs, improve the quality of care, and encourage innovation. Bills such as the Hospital Competition and Lower Health Care Costs Acts of 2019 are also designed to help drive competition.

So, if you sense your healthcare organization is standing in a crowded field that keeps expanding, your feelings are on point. By 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the trillion-dollar industry you operate in — which is currently the third-largest segment of the U.S. economy with more than 900,000 businesses and 20 million employees — is expected to grow by 18%. 

In this expansive landscape, consumers have many healthcare choices — and many hospitals are in a constant struggle to retain market share, let alone grow it. Patients have high expectations about the quality of services they receive from their providers. And it’s why creating and maintaining a superior patient experience is more vital than ever for health systems and hospitals to thrive.

Evaluating Your Healthcare Competitors

It’s wise for your healthcare organization to keep a close eye on competitors’ activities. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation of their marketing efforts can help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your own marketing strategy. Knowing what competitors are doing, and how, can spur innovative ways to improve your program so you can grow your competitive advantage in healthcare. 

As a first step, you must determine who your key competitors are and decide whether to categorize them as primary or secondary competitors. Here’s the difference:

  • Primary competitors are in direct competition with you. They are established companies that operate in the same geographic markets and offer the same healthcare services as you.
  • Secondary competitors compete with you indirectly. They are newly established health systems or practices operating in markets outside your primary geographic area. And, while their services may overlap with yours, they typically offer some services that you don’t currently offer.

Once you’ve created lists of your primary and secondary competitors, you can begin to assess each firm’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Begin with primary competitors. Analyze their marketing materials, websites, and social media accounts. Consider everything from how frequently they reach out to consumers with messaging, to the tone of that messaging, to the colors, fonts, logos, and taglines they use in marketing materials. Create as complete a picture as you can of how each primary competitor approaches the marketplace.

When you analyze secondary competitors, look for innovative ways that they approach markets. Is something working well that you may be able to emulate? Nothing should be off the table; if it works for them, it may work for you.

Tools and Resources for Identifying Competitors

Competitive analysis of healthcare industry peers can be a complex undertaking. But the good news is that there are tools and resources to make the process faster and easier. Let’s take a look at some options you may want to consider using — starting with the SWOT analysis.

When you conduct a healthcare industry competitive analysis, you want to evaluate your competitors’ (and your) strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats or “SWOT.” A SWOT analysis involves answering questions in these four key areas and compiling lists for analysis and reference. 

You’ll want to enlist the help of colleagues throughout your healthcare organization to complete the SWOT analysis. It’s important to have a range of views so that your answers aren’t narrowly focused or siloed. Online resources to help you compile a SWOT analysis include this downloadable worksheet.

Another tool to consider using for your process is Porter’s Five Forces of Competitive Position Analysis. Porter, a Harvard professor, developed this framework by identifying five competitive forces within any industry: supplier power, buyer power, competitive rivalry, product substitution threat, and threat of new entry. (Find out more about how to use Porter’s approach here.)

Market research also provides insight into the competitive landscape that your healthcare organization needs to navigate. Third-party market research analysts like CB Insights, TRC Insights, and Cint publish research reports or conduct market research for the healthcare industry.

If your healthcare organization has the time and resources, you may have already conducted a market research study on your own. You can the findings from that study to help inform your healthcare industry competitive analysis because it is likely to include some data about your peers. 

Other tools you might want to employ include:

  • Benchmarking, where you compare a competitor to best practices or industry standards
  • Scenario planning, in which you create hypothetical scenarios — such as the entry of a new hospital into your market — to analyze, explore, and plan for future outcomes
  • Market segmentation analysis, which divides your target market into segments based on customer needs, preferences, and behaviors

Each of these tools delivers valuable insights that can be incorporated into an overall healthcare industry competitive analysis.

Gather Deep Insights from Phone Calls with Conversation Intelligence

Conversations are a treasure trove of competitive intelligence that can also enrich your overall analysis. Competitive intelligence is data-driven, and there’s no better data than that which comes from the true voice of the customer (VoC). You can capture data from phone conversations with patients at scale when you use conversation intelligence software like Invoca. 

Conversations provide rich insights into patient satisfaction and the overall patient experience. Invoca’s conversation intelligence can monitor, record, transcribe, and analyze 100% of patient calls using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to detect trends, track patient journeys, and deliver insight into patient sentiment and experience.  

Analyzing Competitors’ Strategies and Performance

Your analysis of the competitive field should be systematic. Consider setting up a simple checklist or grid that includes details about your company’s business, service offerings, marketing tactics, and performance metrics. Once you compile these details, you can add columns to fill in the same type of information about your direct competitors. 

This checklist or grid can provide a visualization of where you have gaps in your strategy (weaknesses and threats) and where you outperform competitors (strengths and opportunities). For example, in the marketing category, you would itemize the tactics that you use. You might include:

  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
  • Marketing-oriented content and thought leadership like blogs, e-books, white papers, and case studies
  • Direct mail
  • Paid search

Think of as many categories as you can to fill out the list. If you don’t use podcasts or online videos for marketing, include them on the list anyway because a competitor might. 

Don’t forget to include competitive data from inbound calls. This is primary source data that contains valuable patient insights. AI automation not only captures this data for you easily, but its use of speech-to-text technology accurately converts the spoken word into quickly searchable written text. 

Invoca’s technology uses natural language processing techniques and global transcript search to detect specific phrases, patterns, and trends in patient conversations that lead to insight into patient sentiment. Signal AI Studio makes it easy to train custom AI models to capture exact phrases from conversations in real time, while Signal Discovery uses machine learning to identify and call out trends across conversations. Together, they help you analyze competitive data quickly, easily, and efficiently.

Evaluating Competitors’ Online Presence

Online information is freely accessible, so use it. Thoroughly audit competitor websites and social media channels for insight into how and where your competitors are marketing, what messaging they are using, and how frequently they are in front of their target audiences (which are also likely yours). 

Supplement this effort by reviewing industry reports published by consulting firms like Deloitte and McKinsey, auditing industry websites operated by trade associations and industry groups, and scanning patient reviews on consumer-facing sites like Google and Yelp or even specialist healthcare review sites, such as Healthgrades or Vitals

All these resources can help you unearth valuable data and insights to inform your competitive analysis of the healthcare industry as it relates to your business.

Identifying Opportunities and Threats

Careful analysis of the data you’ve unearthed through third-party reports, your own SWOT analysis, and market research, combined with the intel you’ll get from analyzing patient calls, will provide ample opportunities to pursue efforts to increase your competitive advantage in healthcare. 

For example, say that your phone call data indicates that many of your patients have been asking about personalized health plans (PHPs) because a prominent competitor in your local market offers them. You could then move quickly to develop a PHP to compete with the other provider’s offering. You might even end up creating a better plan that not only appeals to your current patients but also helps you draw business away from your competitors.

You can integrate insights from your phone call data into your business planning and use it to shape and strengthen your overall strategy and inform decision-making throughout your organization. Just be sure to regularly review and, if necessary, adjust your process for collecting competitive data so that your approach and methods remain relevant and vital. 

Put Your Competitive Analysis Insights into Action

The last stage of the process for conducting a healthcare industry competitive analysis is to implement key takeaways you have gleaned from the process. If you aren’t using competitive intelligence to raise the level of care at your hospital or medical facility, you are missing out. This data can prove vital to elevating patient satisfaction and the overall patient experience

For example, say that you discover that the level of service in your contact center that fields patient calls is lagging behind that of your closest competitor. You can onboard a technology tool, like Invoca, to help you improve agent performance (more on that below). Our solution easily integrates with your existing tech stack, like your customer relationship management (CRM) system, and can begin capturing 100% of data from phone calls immediately.

Improving Patient Experience Through Automated QA

How can using a solution like Invoca impact patient experience? Take the example of the CHRISTUS Health Plan, which adopted Invoca to help monitor quality assurance (QA) in its customer call center. Managers were spending too much time evaluating and scoring calls for QA. Invoca automated the call scoring process, expanding it to 100% of calls and introducing objective scoring. This resulted in 50% less time spent by managers on QA. 

Sample Invoca automated scorecard generated by AI

What did they do with the time? They used it, and the data captured from calls by Invoca, to coach their agents. Better agents make for a more efficient call center and more satisfied callers.

Routing Call Right the First Time

Invoca can also automatically route callers to the right agent or department based on data it receives from a patient’s online journey. This could be geographic data, such as where the person is calling from. Or it could be marketing channel data if the caller picked up the phone after seeing an ad for the hospital online. 

Invoca’s AI can also route calls to a specific department. For example, if the caller was on the hospital’s webpage looking at information about cancer treatments before they phoned, their call would be routed to the cancer center.

Little things like these are really big things, especially for people deciding which healthcare provider to entrust their care to. An intelligent call center solution like Invoca can differentiate your healthcare organization from competitors that have all their calls routed through a main switchboard and may also require callers to hold for extended periods. 

Providing an efficient caller experience plays no small part in helping you create a superior patient experience. It helps bring in more patients, too. It even helps to drive efficiency in marketing and operations for healthcare organizations, as ATI Physical Therapy has learned by using Invoca to attribute phone calls to specific campaigns.

How Invoca Can Assist in Your Competitive Analysis Journey

Invoca has the tools to help you build a competitive advantage in healthcare and achieve your goal of delivering a superior patient experience. Our AI-powered software can help you uncover competitive data in patient calls that you can use to elevate your healthcare marketing program and further enrich the patient experience, just like health systems like University Hospitals have done.

Cleveland, Ohio-based University Hospitals wanted to create a seamless journey for its patients, right from the moment they went online to do their research to the day they went into follow-up care following a procedure. Providing an improved customer experience was key to creating that journey.

After implementing Invoca, University Hospitals was able to gather detailed insight from the content of all their phone calls so that they could leverage data for marketing and operations. Invoca also created a vital bridge between patients’ online and offline journeys, which allowed University Hospitals to deliver a more seamless patient experience. 

University Hospitals’ investment in Invoca’s AI-driven call center technology helped the organization to:

  • Create a more consistent call experience for patients
  • Reduce manual analysis of phone calls
  • See fewer calls dropped
  • Schedule more appointments
  • Increase revenue

Invoca also helps healthcare organizations to meet compliance demands. The healthcare industry is closely regulated, and providers must adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) when handling protected health information (PHI). Invoca is HIPAA compliant and does not transmit PHI to third-party systems unless the customer explicitly creates such a feed. 

Invoca also offers on request our industry-standard template for business associate agreements (BAAs) to create a legally binding relationship between HIPAA-covered entities and business associates to ensure complete protection of PHI.

Additional Reading

Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you run a successful healthcare competitive analysis? Check out these resources:

If you’d like to learn more about how Invoca for healthcare organizations can help you build a competitive advantage in a crowded field of formidable rivals, reach out to us today to schedule a customized demo

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