Posted Feb. 5 2019, 03:12:27 pm

Melissa Lackey

President & CEO

Healthcare is top of mind for millions of Americans. Given the tumultuous change that characterizes every part of the sector, it is no surprise that healthcare was one of the main considerations for voter preference in the 2018 mid-term elections.

For those of us in healthcare marketing, the volatile forces surrounding the sector signal one compelling thought: change or be changed.

Why? The factors that made healthcare unique have changed. Consider this: Alphabet, Google’s parent company, recently held a two-day invitation-only conference to focus on healthcare-related topics, like artificial intelligence, life sciences, wearables, home automation and anti-aging strategies. And, Apple is making investments in prescriptions, medical supplies and employer health.

Consumer technology companies are the most obvious, but clearly the competitors of tomorrow may look nothing like today’s.

Healthcare marketers watch these moves and report them upward; healthcare strategists proactively revisit how they go to market, so they have greater impact on the measures that matter to the organization.

Here are our observations:

Digital is the connective tissue that links the new healthcare ecosystem

Today, it’s not about the sector, but the interests and organizations that comprise your ecosystem. Who are the new members of your ecosystem? They may be firms that apply artificial intelligence to enable access to services – by your patients to your competitors rather than you. Your ecosystem may include service organizations that can see the points of friction in business-as-usual and solve them. It may include telehealth providers that pick off your local niche markets with apps that target your audience.

As the boundaries that once defined healthcare fall, the implications – and opportunities – grow in healthcare marketing. It means adjusting your strategy as the ecosystem shifts. It means having clarity about which of your strategies drives meaningful impact for the organization. It means being open to possibilities when seeking nontraditional partnerships and opportunities. And it means you need a clear line of sight between how you invest your time and budget and exactly which metrics are important to your organization.

New competitors mean new rules in healthcare marketing

In a more competitive environment, what kind of team do you need? Ask these questions to determine if your team is ready to operate in the new environment:

  • Are they focused on awareness as the end or as the beginning of a conversation?
  • When you have that conversation, do they talk about what your organization has done well and what it’s proud of? Or, is the conversation about what the prospect is worried about?
  • Is your team conversant with the journey that every buyer takes?
  • And, do they understand that the journey looks different for each segment of your audience?

With a new ecosystem, expect that how your competition positions against you will change, and the skills you and your team need must change as well. Today, agility and nimbleness are the name of the game.

You may need to take ownership of channels or audiences that were not previously in your purview. Get comfortable with pilots and experiments to understand which marketing levers deliver the greatest impact. You’ll need to be data-savvy (or find a partner who is); apply technology to deliver insight; and integrate qualitative and quantitative data to understand and address consumers’ needs.

Customer experience should be at the heart of healthcare strategy

Healthcare consumers have unique problems to be solved that are often laced with fear, confusion and a myriad of other concerns. Show them you understand by providing a personalized customer experience that goes beyond the price and quality of care.

You’ll want to start by considering the ways in which you target, serve, communicate with and retain your customers and patients. Ask yourself, your team and the customers, “Where are there opportunities to improve?” Once you identify areas of friction and where you could be more customer-centric, prioritize the needs and develop a plan for addressing those issues.

Conclusion

As new technologies and consumer expectations continue to raise the bar for healthcare organizations, it will be important for healthcare strategists to maximize digital impact, evaluate team structure and enhance customer relationships.

If you’re looking for ways to align your marketing with your company’s business goals, call us for a free consultation 314-469-3500.

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