The concept behind Blue Ocean Strategy has been in the market for a few years now. With the changes happening in radiology (and health IT, in general), it may be a good time to re-visit the thoughts and practices around utilizing a Blue Ocean strategy.
For a quick overview of Blue Ocean Strategy, the people behind it have an eight slide presentation which provides an excellent overview. Take a few minutes to review it.
To many, getting to a specific radiology example may be the best approach. In DiagnosticImaging.com, there is a great article highlighting Metro Imaging and how they used the Blue Ocean Strategy to better compete in a tight radiology market. The article is entitled Marketing Directly to Patients Revives Center’s Business.
According to the article, by happenstance, the CEO was headed out on vacation, and he grabbed a book – Blue Ocean Strategy – that happened to be on his desk. The CEO describes the concept in the following manner:
“The authors described two kinds of market space: red oceans, where industry boundaries are defined and the competitive rules of the game are known, and blue oceans, where there is untapped market space and the rules of the game are waiting to be set. They defined red ocean strategy as competing in existing market space and exploiting existing demand and blue ocean strategy as working in uncontested market space and creating new demand.”
The game-changing approach which Metro Imaging implemented was to give patients their preliminary test results before they left the imaging center. Along with this, Metro Imaging took their message, approach, and capabilities directly to the consumers, running ads to highlight this approach and level of service.
A few points about their approach:
- Metro Imaging marketed directly to the consumers, giving them the ability to make the decision on which provider to use for imaging services
- When a customer came to one of their facilities, the customers selected whether or not they wanted to receive the results directly
- The results were marked “Preliminary” – it was clearly marked that the full report would be sent to the patient’s physician, and any questions and further consultation should be directed to their specific physician
- It was essential that the preliminary results be produced within a reasonable time – the goal was no more than 10 minutes
- With this approach, customers did not have to wait to find the preliminary results, and they had a choice in which imaging center they selected
The result: increased volume, satisfied patients, and an enhanced relationship with many of the referring physicians.
The question may arise – how sustainable is the Blue Ocean Strategy Approach. From the authors, they state:
“Creating blue oceans is not a static achievement but a dynamic process. Once a company creates a blue ocean and its powerful performance consequences are known, sooner or later imitators appear on the horizon. However, a blue ocean strategy brings with it considerable barriers to imitation. Some of these are cognitive, and others are operational.
The first barrier is often cognitive. Competitors are often blocked from imitating because of brand image conflicts, or the blue ocean strategy just does not fit conventional strategic logic. For many years CNN, for example, was ridiculed by the industry as chicken noodle news by established players. The second barrier is organizational. Because imitation often requires companies to make substantial changes to their existing business practices, politics often kick in, delaying for years a company’s commitment to imitate a blue ocean strategy. The third level includes the economic forces of blue oceans. The high volume generated by a value innovation leads to rapid cost advantages, placing potential imitators at an ongoing cost disadvantage.
By heightening these barriers to imitation, companies can defend the blue oceans they created for some time. However, it should be noted that creating a blue ocean is not a static strategy process, but a dynamic one.”
Another great resource is an article on ImagingBiz.com entitled Strategy Before Structure, Blue Ocean Style. Getting the strategy in place first will facilitate having the right structure, and this will ensure that the dynamic nature of your radiology practice continues.
Innovation in radiology marketing and workflow can happen. This is an excellent example of aligning radiology operations with your brand.