When you consider the evolution of healthcare and marketing, a vast amount has changed over the years. So, trying to predict the future of healthcare marketing is no easy task. If the healthcare industry is undergoing change, marketing must naturally transform to keep up with it.
Many external factors affect the healthcare industry, including changes in government regulations, changes in customer needs and preferences, advancements in technology, economic fluctuations and more. Some of these factors could negatively affect a healthcare provider that may not be prepared whilst others will become motivated to innovate and evolve. In order to remain competitive and successful, healthcare businesses will need to be able to constantly adapt to change and new influences.
New technologies and digital innovation are affecting the customer journey and traditional touchpoints. For this reason healthcare organisations will need to evolve their marketing strategies to engage with their audience.
Here are four key areas which need to be included to strengthen your marketing strategy in today’s ever-changing healthcare industry.
PPC Advertising – Click to Call
With the population growing, the need for healthcare services is increasing. Though we may read in news articles of the rise in demand for NHS services, this demand incorporates many other services such as cosmetic, dental, optometric services, personal injury as well as complementary health services like massage therapy. Healthcare providers will need to be ready to face high demand and prepared to take advantage of new opportunities.
When it comes to health and personal matters, people still prefer to pick up the phone and speak to a person. In fact, an NHS GP patient survey revealed that 86% of patients normally book their appointments over the telephone. This makes it all the more important that your marketing materials, advertising and web pages all contain a phone number for patients to be able to reach you with ease.
Pay per click (PPC) advertising is a great way for healthcare providers to attract the attention of potential searchers looking for health services. With more people searching on their mobile phones, it is imperative that a phone number is displayed and a click to call extension is added to your PPC campaigns. This ad extension makes the telephone number clickable on the ad or displays a call button when the user is searching via a mobile device.
Click to call extensions make the journey smoother for patients to call the provider and it is important that you are tracking the performance of your paid search ads. With click to call enabled, call tracking software can track the phone calls and attribute the calls specifically to the ad generating the leads. Call tracking will allow you to identify the successful campaigns so you may implement the same tactics across other campaigns and the under-performing campaigns. You are then able to allocate your marketing budget to optimise your ads and drive more quality leads to your business.
Mobile Apps in the Healthcare Sector
Thousands of mobile apps are now available that deliver a variety of different functions and healthcare apps are becoming increasingly popular. With cutting edge technology making apps even better, the mobile option has grown to become a healthcare assistant for many users.
Previously, healthcare apps focused on lifestyle habits and fitness tracking (calories, diet, exercising tracking, heart rate monitoring and general health). But the healthcare mobile app industry has evolved with new possibilities and introduced more healthcare service-based apps including:
- Tracking prescription refills
- Prescription dosage reminder
- Symptoms checking
- Self-education patient care
- Make appointments
- Live chat with doctors, surgeons and nurses
- Monitoring your recovery
- Receiving professional medical advice
- Post-discharge care
- Insurance claims management
According to The Economist, further development of mobile health solutions is a major priority for investors in digital health, which have poured more than $6 billion into funding in 2017. With the sheer volume of mobile phone users and healthcare consumers, developing a mobile app suitable for your patients will create another way to build consumer loyalty and engage with your audience.
Social Media – Engage with Patients in Real Time
It is predicted that there will be around 2.77 billion social network users around the world by 2019, making social media a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes to reach prospects and customers. With the number of users growing, those in the healthcare sector need to take advantage of grabbing the attention of their patients via social media.
Social media can provide opportunities for physicians to build a relationship with their patients to encourage better lifestyle choices by sharing health studies and up to date research. This can help improve the doctor-patient relationship to drive patient trust, loyalty and increase personal recommendations or ‘word of mouth’ referrals.
Social media can also help you expand your reach as many patients may only look locally when it comes to healthcare services. Through sharing on social media, new prospects will be able to research your healthcare organisation and determine whether to proceed with you. In fact, 41% of people say social media will affect their choice of specific doctor, clinic or healthcare facility. So, being able to voice your brand and what you can offer can aid those looking for your service into choosing you over your competitors.
Growth of Virtual Care
When it comes to virtual reality (VR) it has often been limited to the world of gaming. However, many marketers have started taking advantage of VR to attract the attention of their audience.
You may be familiar with virtual tours of clinics and hospitals, as consumers find this an important factor during the decision process in choosing a healthcare provider for their needs. However, introducing VR to these tours means patients can be submerged into the experience and take their very own personalised tour. VR can also be used for educational purposes, patients can virtually meet their physicians who can educate them on any specific medical areas in which they are interested.
Healthcare consumers are spending the majority of their time online researching the service they require but also having in-depth digital conversations with physicians. One way they are doing this is through virtual platforms like telehealth that allows physicians to connect with their patients over video call and mobile applications. This virtual care can offer patients the ability to communicate with their healthcare provider wherever they are saving time and money. It also opens greater choice for patients when choosing a healthcare provider as virtual appointments require no travel, so they are not limited to local services.
Since a growing number of healthcare consumers are eager to adopt virtual platforms, healthcare businesses will need to consider this approach and promote their organisation’s use of virtual care through discussions on social media and using digital marketing campaigns to target those searching online.