Healthcare Advertising and Marketing Overview
Digital Marketing - Healthcare Professional and Consumer
COVID-19 has brought a new normal to healthcare and it continues to evolve in 2021 as the pandemic unfolds. As the digital age continues to ripen, new technology based on social media, smartphones, streaming media, telemedicine and wearables has steadily cultivated this trend. COVID-19 has fertilized it through social distancing and the drastic demand to continue personal, business, healthcare and other activities. "Digital First" has become the mainstay of brand and product marketing across much of the healthcare industry.
Each of these stakeholders in healthcare have in some way altered their use of digital technology to maintain at least a shadow of business as usual until the pandemic subsides but as the pandemic progresses and hopefully soon subsides, the new applications, strategies and technologies it spawned will not:
- Consumers, patients, healthcare professionals (nurses, doctors and other clinicians), employers, civic leaders
- Diagnostic laboratories, health management consulting firms, medical product distributors and wholesalers, pharmacy providers
- Healthcare product manufacturers including pharmaceutical, medical device and disposables manufacturers, diagnostic equipment, software and technology firms and many others
- Numerous personas of patients, medical professionals (nurses, doctors and other clinicians), consumers, employers
- Medical provider organizations including physician group practices, hospitals, health systems, clinics, surgery centers
- Payers as in managed care organizations (MCOs), pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), BlueCross BlueShield plans, Medicaid and Medicare plans plus numerous others
More Content Sharing Opportunities
The healthcare audience has many more venues to engage with such as these and other choices are splintering the digital landscape
Budgets, content, user personas, regulatory guidelines and other variables complicate the development and deployment of the healthcare marketing message.
Social Media Healthcare Pluses And Precautions
The new threat of coronavirus combined with the under-rated dangers of annual flu seasons and the re-emergence of measles in the United States and other nations where it was thought to have been wiped out has now greatly changed the opinions of many persons as to the critical importance of vaccines.
The World Health Organization, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other healthcare advocacy groups and government agencies have addressed immunization apathy and anti-vaccine movement spokespersons through deploying accurate and easy to understand healthcare information through digital channels. Social media leaders including Facebook, Twitter and others are clearly demonstrating the power of digital venues and social media in healthcare and wellness in an abrupt about face from championing the "freedom of voice" claims from the naysayers of modern medicine and anti-vaccine cohorts.
Broadcast Television Versus Internet Streaming And Digital Delivery Strategy
Broadcast television still has its place as a healthcare marketing resource, its delivery has evolved due to cable, satellite and streaming options which has added complexity to designing advertising and media campaigns. One aspect of direct-to-consumer ( DTC ) advertising is the clinician audience. While the content of the commercials is approved by regulators for consumer/patient viewers, clinicians (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc.) are in the audience as well.
As healthcare manufacturer salespersons have less access to physician practices, hospitals and health systems, DTC advertising plays an important role in brand awareness with clinicians whether or not they have direct dialogue with healthcare product salespersons or their companies' websites.
The array of venues continues to expand and access to the television audience is getting more complicated and expensive:
- Conventional broadcast TV and cable channels
Mobile Technology And Effective Healthcare Marketing Strategies
Smartphones as well as tablets are part of another audience phenomenon. Healthcare professionals, patients and consumers continue to build their engagement with mobile. It's at the ready; in pockets, purses, backpacks, briefcases, plugged into vehicles, in kitchens and living rooms. Any commercial on television and the programming itself is competing against the mobile, tablet and laptops the viewers have at close hand. The best healthcare marketing strategies that involve TV ad spend are the ones that can also bridge the gap between TV and the audience's handheld devices.
Exploding Growth Of Telehealth/Telemedicine
Telehealth/telemedicine innovation is an important enabler for even more advanced patient care and healthcare marketing opportunities. It has greatly expanded based on its great ability to orchestrate COVID-19 patient care and the U.S. government is supporting it fully in this regard. These platforms are already featuring promotional messaging aligned with clinician and patient users.
The ability to connect with patients in real time while collecting and sharing data is a futuristic wish that has been officially granted. Alphabet (through its Google and life sciences unit Verily) as well as Amazon, Apple and other contenders are driving the patient monitoring and wearable activity tracker technology sectors. These could have been seized by decades old companies like Abbott, Baxter, Becton Dickinson, GE, Medtronic, Roche, Siemens and other diagnostic or medical monitoring technology firms.
Advertising And Marketing Agencies
Traditional brand and creative agencies have more than caught up to the digital revolution by building their shops up with digital talent organically or buying up smaller boutique agencies that were digital savvy. New competitors entered the space as Accenture and other consulting firms moved into the space through buying agencies and combining them with their SEO and other analytic attributes plus financial reporting and programmatic abilities to critically assess ROI on all things digital-marketing related (email marketing, PPC, etc.).
Advertising and marketing firms tightly focused on managed care marketing and market access strategy have added another dimension to the mix as so many product and service companies need to precisely position themselves with payers like MCOs, PBMs, BCBS, Medicaid, Medicare and DHA/TRICARE.
A Framework For Digital Marketing Resource Allocation, Strategy Development And Execution
It's a routine requirement to evaluate digital marketing strategies and tactics as technology innovation, patient/customer personas, digital venues and marketplace changes evolve. This is an example of the primary essentials a healthcare product or service organizations needs to account for to develop, launch and grow successful marketing initiatives:
- Social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)
- Inbound and outbound content marketing strategies
- Consumer and patient / advocacy group disease-focused venues
- Healthcare professional dedicated venues based on medical specialty and their association members
- Audience migration (users moving from one venue/app to another)
- Content development and content marketing strategy
- Indications/therapeutic area(s)
- Targeted patients, consumers
- Targeted clinicians (nurses, physicians, pharmacists)
- Brand and product lifecycle (launch, 2-3 years old, established, mature, approaching generic)
- Primary, secondary, tertiary salesforces connected to brand
- Annual plan goals and objectives
Market Sector Examples
- Conventional primary care
- Hospitals, health systems, integrated delivery networks
- Medical group practices (both independent and hospital-owned)
- Infusion centers, walk-in and closed door pharmacies
Managed Markets Market Access Strategy
- Medical benefit, pharmacy benefit, benefit consultants and third party administrators (TPAs)
- DHA/TRICARE, Veterans Administration hospitals (VAs), military treatment facilities (MTFs)
- Group purchasing organizations (GPOs)
- Hospitals, health systems, integrated delivery networks
- Health insurance companies and managed care organizations (MCOs)
- Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs)
A Strengthening Sector Of New Healthcare Influencers, Product Manufacturers And Healthcare Service Providers
The fitness industry and the stereotypical fitness clubs of past decades had significantly evolved prior to the pandemic. Their agendas drive nutrition, consumer goods and personal wellness being through everyday health, optimized fitness, preventative self-care and rehabilitative care:
- Dieticians and nutritionists dedicated to routine wellness, healthy lifestyles, amateur/professional athletic competition and training
- Fitness centers, health clubs, aquatic centers
- Weight lifting and cross-training gyms
- Boutique, chain and franchise dance and yoga studios
- Personal trainers, professional fitness instructors
- Physical therapists, sports medicine doctors and clinics, rehabilitative healthcare professionals
COVID-19 has put the brakes on this vibrant community and threatens its core business platforms. Now companies and individuals focused on "telefitness" experiences have an opportunity to shine. Prime examples are Lululemon/Mirror and Peloton. Their business models and technology are positioned to provide live and on-demand coaching sessions delivered via Internet to provide the workout and "community" feel of fitness centers or gyms in the safe confines of a social distancing customer base. 2021 is a year they can escalate growth as fitness centers and exercise studios struggle to profitably operate.