The US healthcare industry is constantly evolving, presenting opportunities as well as challenges for healthcare marketers. Now, the focus is on a healthcare delivery model that is based on patient satisfaction, good outcomes and transparency. Moreover, consumers are now more empowered and make a choice only after careful research. Therefore in the present scenario, strategic healthcare marketing has become very important. What are the major challenges to consider?
- Insufficient Investment in Digital Marketing: The US healthcare industry is considered the biggest in the world. As per some estimates, healthcare spending in the US is nearly 20% of GDP. Unfortunately, healthcare marketers are not investing much in digital marketing. Deloitte Consulting says that these marketers spend only $1.4bn for digital ads, which is comparatively lesser than the rest of the marketers in other industries. What is the reason for this reluctance? It seems to stem from a lack of proficiency in investing in a medium where regulations are not in pace with the latest advanced digital technologies. Most healthcare organizations choose to play it safe and invest only limitedly in digital marketing. Healthcare marketers should however realize that they have proprietary, important data that they can put to good use when implementing a good digital marketing campaign.
- Consumers Now Engage in Research to Find the Best Solutions: Today’s healthcare consumer utilizes internet resources to search and find the best solutions. They do not blindly accept what the doctor tells them, and even before visiting a doctor they do considerable research on their conditions, treatment options and so on. Consumers hold themselves responsible for their health and take wise decisions. Pew Research shows that at least 72% internet uses looked online for health information within the past year. The most commonly researched topics include specific diseases and conditions, treatments/procedures, and doctors/other health professionals. The patient is now in charge and healthcare entities now need to be simple, transparent, and relevant. Digital options such as blogs, Facebook, blogs, and email marketing can help educate, connect, and gain supporters via more affordable and measurable marketing techniques.
- Lack of Statistical Analysis: Understanding and evaluating the metrics related to strategic areas such as brand and image; growth; stakeholder engagement; and marketing communication is undervalued these days. Statistical analysis will help identify where marketing can make a contribution.
- Lack of Direct Access to Customers: In the US, consumers rarely pay directly for services or drugs. It is usually done by insurers, who decide the way the consumers should access the healthcare system. For instance, a hospital may be able to persuade customers that they offer the best services etc. the consumer may not be able to access those services just because third parties such as insurers decide when, how and where consumers access the healthcare system. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a marketing strategy effective enough to access the consumers through third parties as well.
- Lack of Trust: Due to controversies over issues such as drug pricing and the related, the healthcare industry especially pharmaceuticals has suffered in reputation among both consumers and physicians. People are less likely to trust the ads that healthcare marketers create for campaigning. A good marketing campaign should focus on establishing the reliability of your products/services and convincing the consumer of their merit. Take cues from others who are succeeding through their excellence in storytelling.
- Regulations in Sharing Patient Info: Unlike other marketers, those in the healthcare industry face restrictions in using PHI or protected health information for their marketing campaigns. Especially, HIPAA-regulated healthcare centers should receive special consent before using patient data for marketing purposes.
- Lack of Effective Data Collection: It’s been found that 44% of healthcare practices are unprepared to properly streamline the large volumes of patient data they receive. Proper and quick collection and usage of data is very much required for a successful marketing campaign.
The healthcare industry needs to focus more on digital advertising and stay abreast with other industries. The ethical guidelines relevant to the healthcare industry along with the market structure make it difficult to decide on the right kind of promotion. The general public often does not have the final say regarding the purchase of products. The need of the day is to target audiences effectively so that you secure public trust and become a reliable source of information on health products.
Proactively tackle the challenges you face in healthcare digital marketing and stay stable.