Healthcare marketing is a multidisciplinary area of public healthcare service. It involves creating, communicating, and delivering health information and interventions using customer-centered and science-based strategies to protect and promote the health of diverse populations. It is the integration of the traditional marketing field with public health research, theory and practice.
What makes healthcare marketing different from traditional marketing?
The Healthcare sector is unique. The marketing of healthcare goods and services is different from the promotion that goes in other sectors. An increase in sales of products or services isn't the only factor to determine success in the healthcare sector. To better understand why healthcare marketing is different, read on.
1. Demand for products and services
Marketing for other industries usually requires techniques that will generate demand for goods and other services. For instance, in a cosmetic company, marketers generally approach supermodels or celebrities using their products to entice their customers.
But can the same approach be used while marketing healthcare products? In some cases, probably. However, for the most part, it is practically impossible to use the same marketing techniques to generate demand for healthcare products and services because of their very nature. It is not possible to create demand for medical procedures that address strokes, heart attacks, or cancer through campaigns and advertisements when only a small segment of the population is affected by these conditions.
2. The complexity of products and services
Promoting bags, shoes, clothes or food is relatively easier as people know about them. Marketers just highlight the advantages present in their product, which sets them apart from their rivals, to attract customers. They spread information, get consumers to try the item, and implement the usual promotional methods to create awareness.
On the other hand, a majority of healthcare products, especially those which utilize technology, are difficult to explain to an ordinary person. Equipment of reproductive care, women's care, or senior's care is hard to conceptualize for some people. Because of the complexity of healthcare products and services, traditional marketing methods do not work.
In traditional marketing, efforts are made in luring the people who will buy the product or service. Marketers learn as much as they can about their target users, especially their needs, likes, and preferences, to identify the right strategy to reach and convince them.
While the end-user is clear-cut in traditional marketing, it is not always the case in healthcare marketing, as the user of the product or service is usually different from the individual who decides to buy it. It might be a doctor, a family member, or a health provider who makes the decision, but eventually, it is the patient who uses the product.
4. Measurement of the desired outcome
In traditional marketing, if a company generates profit, the marketing strategy is deemed as successful. In the case of healthcare marketing, profit generation isn't the only measure used for assessment. In general, identifying and measuring the desired outcome of healthcare promotions are much more complicated than simply looking at profits. For example, in a teaching hospital, the measure of marketing success does not depend on the increase in the number of admitted patients, but also the increase in the volume of research grants or the number of subjects for clinical trials.
Since the notion of marketing was introduced to healthcare providers during the 1970s, the field has experienced periods of growth, decline, retrenchment, and renewed growth. Following the outbreak of contagion in 2019, which caused a global lockdown, the healthcare market was severely impacted. The fear of virus transmission caused severe downfalls in healthcare segments such as hospitals, medical tourism, and outpatient care centers. This has caused global healthcare marketing to adopt new trends. A few of them have been mentioned below.
Effective patient communication
Covid-19 has provided a great opportunity for healthcare marketers to make use of their communication strategies. Effective patient communication does not only mean a correct diagnosis of disease but also to keep in check whether the patient is receiving care and treatment on time. To ensure this, health marketers can provide the best sources from subject matter experts within their healthcare organizations and make that content available to their patients to build trust and nurturing patient relationships.
Reviews on Google has become a top-ranking factor
According to a survey, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. 10 years ago, it would have been a foreign thought for a patient to go online and research and find a practitioner based on reviews and schedule an appointment, especially for a specialty physician. But today, people turn to online resources, to read reviews and research the overall reputation of the practice and providers. Therefore, it is important on emphasizing gaining control of the reputation management and review generation of the practice. It has also been proved that reviews are the third most important ranking factor in SEO. Therefore, they cannot be ignored. Companies can start implementing a dedicated program to gather new reviews on Google, Facebook, and healthcare-related sites.
The emphasis on telehealth
Telehealth is one thing that is significantly going to change the way medical organizations survive in the coming years. The Healthcare sector was already going through a crisis, covid-19 just exacerbated the incumbent situation. Even though telehealth is a common term, not many are aware of its features. For healthcare marketers, the priority should be to build awareness and make the patients aware of the telehealth features.
Attracting patients through videos and healthcare news
Sharing valuable content does not only educate the patients but also creates trust among the organization. But since everyone is posting these contents on their sites, what will make you stand apart? The answer is simple. Understand the need of your patients. Identify the common questions which your patient asks and then create content providing solutions to their problems. Create content that offers valuable value, eye-catching videos, attractive images about your healthcare services. Infographics, gifs, and videos are all excellent ways to quickly convey a quick message and leave a lasting impression of your healthcare brand.
Patient experience promotes the healthcare workflow productivity
A patient's experience is an important key to an organization's growth. To improve this, an organization should improve its healthcare tools. Advanced features like online appointment scheduling, online bill pay, easily accessible medical records, lab results will automatically increase your patient experience. Use updated software with advanced features, emails, or text your patients to notify them about these features, provide mobile app experiences to attract your patients.
It is in human nature if you hear about something or someone for the first time, you try to learn more about them. The Healthcare sector isn’t any different. Patients go with the brand. Online brand reputation is important for healthcare success. Whenever a patient hears about an organization for the first time, they immediately google it to get more information. This essentially forms their first impression. To improve online reputation, it is important to increase presence over social media. You can even ask customers to write a review for your healthcare services. Showcasing your customer's testimonials which shows your achievements is also a way to increase brand reputation.
Case study: the healthcare market of India
The Indian healthcare market is segmented into outpatient care centers, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and supplies, diagnostic services, digital healthcare, research and development, medical insurance, and medical tourism.
In 2019, the healthcare market was dominated by the hospitals' segment, which accounted for about 38.50% of the total market revenue. But, by 2025, the market share of hospitals is expected to decline by 10.55%, due to the surge in demand for home healthcare devices, digital healthcare solutions, and pharmaceutical devices.
Due to the outbreak of a pandemic, market segments that are likely to be positively impacted are the digital healthcare system, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and supplies segment. It has also had a positive impact on the medical R&D segment and medical insurance segments.
The overall healthcare market is expected to expand to INR 65.51 Trillion by the end of 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.04%.
Case study: the healthcare market of the United States
The US healthcare industry is massive and will continue to grow as the population swells.
A survey predicted that US healthcare spending will amount to $5.4 trillion by 2024, which corresponds to an annual average of 19.6% of the GDP.
With the emerging health-focused technology, the US's health spending is expected to increase from $ 4 trillion in 2020 to $ 8.3 trillion in 2040.
By encouraging tech that promotes vital tracking, early detection, and prevention of disease, healthcare marketers are leveraging the increase in consumers.
It is true, the last few years have seen more change in marketing than the previous 50 and the next five years will outpace all of them put together. From policy to patients, everything is changing in the healthcare market. Aging populations, technological advancements, and other trends are changing the face of the industry. With this in mind, all need to adapt to new trends to keep pace with marketing.
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