The Journal of Medicine & Life, a publication of the prestigious National Center for Biotechnology Information, recently published a paper that examined how marketing impacts healthcare. The content of the study is geared for academia, but its insights have to be considered by anyone who handles digital marketing for a doctor’s office or healthcare facility.
The basics of marketing are the same for any industry. You need to start with a value proposition—a public claim that is true, is better than anyone else’s on the market, is important to the target audience, is memorable and is difficult to copy. The challenge for healthcare marketers comes in executing these basics in a manner that is consistent with the ethics of the medical field.
For example, there is no more potent selling tool than being able to cite past successes. Those successes come across crystal clear when delivered in a highly personalized way. Indeed, the study cites Harvard Business Review research that says 64 percent of healthcare consumers cite “genuine common values” as important to their connection with their chosen medical brand.
But HIPPA laws and its privacy regulations drastically restrict what kind of information can be shared with the public. Thus, the healthcare marketer faces a challenge that their colleagues in most other industries do not. It’s finding a way to make that “values connection” without violating the law or medical ethics.
It’s that challenge that has led to key changes in healthcare marketing that the study considers. Mass marketing has given way to more specific targeting. As a consequence, television and radio are less common and digital—with its ability to target and segment an audience has taken over. Specific targeting necessitates a more personalized approach—which brings us back to the healthcare marketer’s original dilemma.
The way forward can be done by shifting the personalized focus away from the patient and onto the provider. Regular videos done by medical staff talking about the issues they face allows potential patients (customers) to get comfortable with the people who will handle their healthcare. A blog and social media presence allow a medical office to stay in regular connection with people.
This can not only be effective marketing, but it has a positive impact on the way marketing impacts healthcare itself. There are no promises being made, whether explicitly or implicitly. There is simply a doctor looking into a camera and talking to prospects—the same as they’ll be doing when the patient actually comes into the office.
The transition from marketing healthcare services to delivering them is seamless. And it’s done in a way that protects legal and ethical standards, while still being effective at reaching the target audience.