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It wasn’t that long ago when it was widely thought that marketing and advertising among medical services providers was unsavory and unprofessional. There was a sense that providing healthcare services was almost altruistic and that patients should be thankful for those who were present to accommodate their medical needs. Patients just wanted to feel better or have chronic conditions on a livable plateau. Differences between one hospital, doctor, dentist or optometrist were thought to be benign. Patients most likely took advantage of healthcare in the closest local hospital or nearest physician’s office. Bedside manner and personal likability routinely drove consumer retention. Consumer interaction with healthcare providers was based largely on trust, usually the patient’s trust that the provider knew the best course of action.
With the approach of the digital age, healthcare consumers became better educated and informed as to the available choices for healthcare. The once benevolent society of healthcare soon became the profit driven healthcare industry where patients had the ability to search for medical services that satisfied their wants and needs best. In this new era, patients are customers.
Americans spend more than $3.65 trillion each year on healthcare, according to a 2018 study by Axios. The amount represents a healthcare spend of $11,212 per consumer, with 59% of the spending going to hospitals, doctors, and clinical services. By 2027 it is predicted that the health spending share of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will rise to 19.4 percent. Search engines are the tool of choice for consumers looking for health related services or information. Patients who ultimately book appointments with healthcare providers do so after searching the internet. Phone calls initiated after web-search are the leading revenue generators for providers and will account for the vast majority of healthcare spend in 2019. The pathway to connecting providers with patients clearly begins and ends with digital.
Messaging is key to attracting patients from online media. Content needs to be simple and easily understood, a feat difficult when medical information can often be technical and confusing. Establishing trust and engaging an audience will enhance the ability of the consumer to navigate the process of connection. Simple and seamless is the best approach with messages that are uniform across all services and locations that align with the brand’s identity.
Targeting specific market segments with the right message at the right time drives increased business. Content must be personal and authentic. Using social media and blogging are becoming effective platforms for medical care providers. Tell a story and use video generously to make the point quickly and above all, educate. Healthcare is an industry of quality of life versus death. Be empathetic in the approach and project an understanding of the emotions revolving around the subject. Patients value trust and comfort when dealing with personal healthcare issues. Sealing the relationship between provider and patient is critical. With 80 percent of consumers saying that the experience is more important than the product or service, it is imperative that initial connections with the patient are in-line with the goals and objective of the organization. More than 65 percent of customers report severing ties with marketers who failed to deliver a positive experience up front.
The US healthcare industry is quickly moving towards a financial model that is based on value rather than volume and focused on healthcare avoidance as much as treatment. This radical shift from a fee-for-service based system to a value-based system will demand a differing approach to healthcare marketing in years to come.
Junction Creative Solutions is eminently qualified to assist today’s healthcare providers in navigating the industry’s new marketing reality. Contact our professional experts today at 678-686-1125.