A. Awareness and Usage of Competitive Telecommunications Equipment
1. What departments presently use non-Bell voice communications equipment (paging, intercom, message recording, etc.)? What were the main considerations in selecting this equipment?
2. What departments use non-Bell data terminals (CRTs)? What are the major functions/activities that this equipment is used for? What were the main considerations in selecting this equipment?
3. How do you view the capabilities of Bell System voicecommunications equipment to meet your operations needs?
4. How do you view the capabilities of Bell System data terminals to meet your records- and information retrieval needs?
5. What do you feel are Mountain Bell’s main strengths and/ or weaknesses in meeting your hospital’s overall telecommunications needs?
B. Perceptions of the Mountain Bell Sales Force
1. What should a telecommunications specialist know about the hospital industry in order to adequately address your voice-communications and data-processing needs?
2. Have you ever worked with any Mountain Bell marketing people in terms of your communications needs? If so, how knowledgeable do you perceive the Mountain Bell sales force to be with respect to both the health-care
industry and their telecommunications equipment? How
C. Purchasing Decision
1. What is the standard procedure for selecting and authorizing a telecommunications purchase? Is this based primarily on the dollar amount involved or type of technology?
2. Who has the greatest input on the telecommunications decision (department manager, administrator, physicians, and so on)?
3. What are the most important considerations in evaluating a potential telecommunications purchase (equipment price, cost-savings potential, available budget, and so on)?
4. What supplier information is most important in facilitating the purchasing decision? How effective has the Mountain Bell sales force been in providing such information?
D. Specification of the Most Important Problems or Concerns Relating to Effective Hospital Management
1. What are the most important problems or concerns confronting you in managing the hospital?
2. What type of management data is required in order to deal effectively with these problems or concerns?
3. How are these data presently recorded, updated, and transmitted? How effective would you say your current information-retrieval system is?
4. Do you have any dollar amount specifically budgeted for data or telecommunications improvements in 2004–2005? What specific information or communication functions are you most interested in upgrading?
E. Achieving Maximum Utilization of Hospital Facilities
1. Do you experience any problems in obtaining accurate, up-to-date information on the availability of bed space, operating rooms, or lab services?
2. Do you see __________ hospitals as competing with other area hospitals or HMOs in the provision of healthcare services? If so, with which hospitals? Do you have a marketing plan to deal with this situation?
F. Efficient Use of Labor Resources
1. How variable is the typical daily departmental workload, and what factors most influence this variance?
2. How do you document and forecast workload fluctuations? Is this done for each hospital department?
3. To what extent (if any) do you use outside consulting firms to work with you in improving the delivery of hospital services?
G. Reimbursement and Cash Flow
1. Which insurer is the primary provider of funds? How is reimbursement made by the major insurers?
2. What information do you need to verify the existence and type of insurance coverage when an individual is being processed for admission or outpatient hospital services? What, if any, problems are experienced in the verification and communication of insurance information?
Jim Martin, marketing research manager for Mountain Bell, studied the final research design for the hospital administrator study that had been prepared by Industrial Surveys, a marketing research firm in Denver. He realized that he needed to formulate some recommendations with respect to some very specific questions. Should individual personal interviewers be used as suggested by Industrial Surveys, or should a series of one to six focus-group interviews be used instead? Was the questionnaire satisfactory? Should individual questions be added, deleted, or modified? Should the flow be changed? Exactly who should be sampled, and what should the sample size be?
About 20 field salespeople at Mountain Bell Telephone Company were involved in sales of communication equipment and services to the health-care industry. Because of job rotations and reorganizations, few salespeople had been in their present positions for more than three years. They were expected to determine customer needs and problems and to design responsive communication systems. In addition, there was a health-care industry manager, Andy Smyth, who had overall responsibility for the health-care industry marketing effort at Mountain Bell, although none of the sales personnel reported directly to him. He prepared a marketing action plan and worked to see that it was implemented. The marketing action plan covered:
Andy Smyth was appointed only recently to his current position, although he had worked in the health-care market for several years while with the Eastern Bell Telephone Company. Thus, he did have some first-hand knowledge of customer concerns. Further, there was an AT&T marketing plan for the health-care industry which included an industry profile; however, it lacked the detailed information needed, especially at the local level. It also lacked current information as to competitive products and strategies.
Mountain Bell had long been a quasi-monopoly, but during the past decade had seen vigorous aggressive competitors appear. Andy Smyth thought it imperative to learn exactly what competitive products were making inroads, in what applications, and the basis of their competitive appeal. He also felt the need for some objective in-depth information as to how major Mountain Bell customers in the health-care industry perceived the company’s product line and its sales force. He hypothesized that the sales force was generally weak in terms of understanding customers’ communication needs and problems. He felt that such information would be particularly helpful in understanding customers’ concerns and in developing an effective sales training program. He hoped that the end result would be to make the sales force more customer oriented and to increase revenues from the health-care market.
While at Eastern Bell, Andy Smyth had initiated a mail survey of hospital administrators that had been of some value. Several months before, he had approached Jim Martin with the idea of doing something similar at Mountain. Jim’s reaction was that the questionnaire previously used was too general (that is one question was: What basic issues confront the health-care area?) or too difficult to answer (How much do you budget monthly for telecommunications equipment or service? 0–$1,000; $1,000–$2,000; etc.) Further, he felt that in-depth individual interviews would be more fruitful. Thus, he
contacted Industrial Surveys, which, after considerable discussion with both Jim and Andy, created the research design. They were guided by the following research objectives:
1. What are the awareness and usage levels of competitive telecommunications products by the hospital?
2. What is the perception of Mountain Bell’s sales force capabilities as compared to other telecommunications vendors?
3. What is the decision-making process as it pertains to the identification, selection, and purchase of telecommunications equipment?
4. What concerns/problems impact most directly upon the hospital’s (department’s) daily operations?
5. What are the perceived deficiencies and suggestions for improvement of work/information flow?
Research interviews will be conducted in seven Denver area hospitals with the hospital administrator and, where possible, with the financial officer and the telecommunications manager. A total of 14 interviews are planned. Interviews will be held by appointment, and each respondent will be probed relative to those questions that are most appropriate for his or her position and relevant to the study’s overall objectives. The cost will be from $6,500 to $8,500, depending on the time involved to complete the interviews.