Healthcare marketing is a slow-moving industry. Laden with government regulations and bureaucratic red tape, innovation can sometimes seem like an impossibility. However, change is beginning to emerge. Between new government regulations put in place by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as changing expectations from patients, there is no longer much choice for stubborn healthcare marketers but to adapt. So let’s break out the defibrillator paddles and take a look at the major changes that are resuscitating this industry.
Since the implementation of the ACA, more than 16 million previously uninsured Americans have received healthcare coverage. About 10 million of those newly covered Americans are purchasing their health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. That means they’re not covered by employee-selected plans – instead, they are choosing their own coverage to meet their individual health and financial needs. This level of patient autonomy is unprecedented in the American Healthcare industry.
It is more critical now than ever before for healthcare providers to provide relevant, transparent, patient-centric experiences to help potential patients navigate the tricky healthcare landscape. A healthcare brand that can do that will win the trust of their customers in an industry that is notoriously untrusted.
A strong healthcare marketing program has the opportunity to meet patients at the most critical junctures in the patient’s decision-making journey by developing personalized content, improving cross-device user experience, and integrating big data and AI into their marketing. Take a look at Oscar Health, which is doing all of the above to provide one of the most seamless, user-centric healthcare experiences in the industry.
The ACA has also shifted the focus in healthcare from pay-for-service – which, simply put, incentivizes healthcare providers to fill as many beds as possible – towards more preventive care and public health oriented services, which focus on keeping communities healthy and preventing unnecessary hospital visits. With a greater emphasis on making sure people are healthy and cutting back on unnecessary re-hospitalization, it is more important than ever for healthcare companies to enact meaningful behavioral change in their patients. This is a great marketing opportunity.
Smart healthcare marketers are leveraging data and technology to develop innovative new means of communicating with their patients to create more meaningful and personalized experiences.
Sickweather, the sickness forecasting and mapping app, is taking strides to improve public health with data and technology. By tapping into a user’s social network data and analyzing local search trends in real-time, Sickweather can alert users to potential illness threats, before they even happen. As of January this year, Sickweather opened up their data to healthcare marketers, so that marketing teams could produce timelier messaging that relates directly to the health needs of their communities.
Communicating the right healthcare message to the right patient at the right time could truly make a difference in that patient’s health. Remember, keeping communities healthy isn’t just going to be good for business, it builds loyalty, advocacy and predisposition among your potential patients.
Most hospitals probably don’t think of themselves as being in competition with brands like Nike. But due to many brands’ recent investments in wearable technology and fitness apps, these big name movers and shakers are redefining the way your patients think about their health data.
This is both a challenge and a huge opportunity for the healthcare industry, a vertical notoriously slow to adapt to consumer technology. In an age when many users expect their health data to be available in their pockets or on their wrists, it’s a serious pain point for patients that most hospitals cannot conveniently and effectively share patient data with outside providers.
The line between healthcare and CPG brands has never been more blurred than in the case earlier this year when emergency room doctors used a patient’s FitBit data to determine treatment.
The healthcare marketer that can create a seamless user experience across patients’ digital channels will find themselves with a considerable leg up in the market, not to mention a ton of less frustrated patients.
The healthcare landscape is a vast and complicated one, and it’s changing fast. If these changes are ones you and your healthcare organization deal with on a regular basis, then stay tuned for more posts on how marketers are developing innovative solutions to improve the patient experience and bring healthcare marketing into the 21st century.