The medical industry has gone through considerable tumult since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic at the outset of 2020. COVID-19 and issues related to it have dominated medical marketing since then. As we move into a new year, the early read on 2022 healthcare marketing trends is that they will gradually continue what the last 2 years have brought.
Trend #1: Virtual engagement
This starts with virtual care. The pandemic drastically accelerated any previous movement towards conducting healthcare meetings via video conference. With people having gotten a taste of receiving medical care from the comfort of their own home, a lot of them have no desire to go back.
This includes everything from routine video check-ins with a specialist to contacting a doctor via a portal with a question. Most doctors are happy with the results, with better than 3 quarters of physicians saying that virtual care leads to acceptable outcomes.
Having said that, the trend itself appears to have stabilized. Studies show that nearly 1 in 5 visits are done virtually, but absent another dramatic situation analogous to the pandemic, there’s no reason to anticipate it going higher.
The fact that virtual care levels have stabilized means that providers are now in a position to figure out how to do it better than ever and gain an edge on the competition. Can portals be made more convenient from a technical standpoint? Can medical facilities figure out proactive ways to get people engaged and report updates on their health? Once engaged, can the people be delivered new tools via the portal to become more knowledgeable?
Those are just a sampling of the questions that healthcare marketing professionals will need to be asking themselves.
Trend #2: Marketing across the funnel
What marketing professionals call “the funnel”—the process of building brand awareness, getting prospects engaged, turning them into customers and then into repeat customers—is something medical people might prefer to call the “patient journey.” Whatever you choose to call it, marketing efforts have to be made to reach people at all stages of the funnel.
Building loyalty is vital for any business. That’s particularly true in a sensitive area like medical care. And it’s even more true at this historical moment, when most everyone has been through some level of trauma regarding their health—be it directly or through worrying about it.
Consequently, marketers may need to bring a “bedside manner” to the equation even sooner than normal. On the other end of the funnel, there may need to be more active outreach to current patients. Traditional means, like newsletters, are always a possibility. But so are options like those discussed above with regards to an improved portal.
What it boils down to is this—marketing in one part of the funnel must always be done with an eye towards how it impacts the other end of the funnel. This is good practice in any industry at any time, but the unique circumstances that healthcare has gone through the last 2 years make it particularly pertinent in 2022.