Digital marketing now permeates almost every aspect of marketing, and every industry adopted this strategy. Healthcare is no exception to this need for digital marketing, although some unique aspects of the industry do call for some modifications of general marketing strategies for both digital and traditional media. Many people argued that healthcare is an essential service that needs no online promotion to be profitable. That’s simply not true and, rather than adding cost to an industry many already find overpriced, marketing in the healthcare industry actually benefits patients and 3rd party payers by allowing patients to make informed choices among available options including knowing the benefits offered by a provider, credentials and other trust instruments to allow patients to evaluate the providers, and making explicit the costs associated with needed services that result in lower overall costs. If you run a healthcare business, here are some reasons why digital marketing in healthcare is critical for your business’s growth.
Digital marketing in healthcare
Above, you see the growth of digital marketing across all industries. While traditional advertising still captures a significant amount of a firm’s advertising budget, increasingly dollars are moving from traditional to digital media. Estimates from 2021, suggest that 46% of a firm’s advertising budget now comprises digital advertising, such as PPC (pay per click) or social ads. If the trends shown above continue, as experts predict, soon digital advertising will surpass spending on traditional media. If you believe businesses are rational and seek to optimize their profits, these data show the value of digital media.
Healthcare shares the same marketing challenges as any other business, although many operating in this space see all marketing as anathema. Digital is no exception to their avoidance of marketing practices. However, a recent report by Forrester Research shows a full 59% of healthcare firms either have no digital marketing strategy or have fallen behind in implementing the strategy.
Reasons healthcare businesses are slow to adopt digital marketing
- The healthcare industry is heavily regulated. Regulations make them slow to change; waiting for others to show the benefit of a tactic before considering it themselves.
- Those operating in the healthcare industry see themselves as answering to a higher calling, that of patient health, and see marketing of all types as overly commercial.
- Traditionally, healthcare businesses run with managers trained in healthcare not business, unlike most commercial businesses. Thus, business conversations revolve around medical issues such as ethics, new treatments, reimbursement rates, new equipment, and other medical concerns. Since costs are primarily passed along through 3rd party providers (insurance companies and governments), inefficiencies are passed along. Instead of seeing pricing as a point of differentiation, something to incentivize cost control, healthcare providers see costs as unimportant.
- Metrics drive commercial businesses to adopt the most effective tools for generating revenue. Since common metrics in the healthcare industry revolve around medicine, such as mortality and morbidity rates, metrics to assess financial performance are less emphasized.
- Marketing is seen as an evil that is counter to the view of healthcare as a business where profits don’t influence decisions.
Of course, all this is changing as insurance reimbursements go down and governments raise concerns over healthcare inequities and the impact of costs on segments of society. Further, emerging for-profit healthcare options require businesses to face the economic realities of competition for profitability. This fueled demand for programs offering MBAs designed specifically for healthcare professionals who must now make decisions impacting financial as well as medical concerns.
Why digital marketing makes sense for healthcare businesses
1. Digital marketing reaches a wider audience
First of all, it’s important to understand what digital marketing is and what it means for your healthcare business. Digital marketing in healthcare is about promoting your healthcare services online to a target market. Today, about 4.66 billion people use the internet, with 92.6% of them accessing it through their mobile phones. That represents a massive pool of potential patients for your business. About 88% of people go online for information on various health issues using questionable sites like WebMD.
And 70% of them admit that the information they find affects the decisions they make regarding their healthcare such as when to consult a healthcare professional and which treatments they need. Increasingly, doctors find themselves facing patients who demand certain treatments and drugs, having self-diagnosed with information available online. Thus, physicians see their influence over patients declines from the near god-like treatment commonly received prior to the ubiquitous of these online websites. By employing digital marketing strategies, especially operating a blog, physicians gain a voice in the informational space consulted by patients.
Beyond individual users, medical professionals also go online to access various information about medical treatments and medical supplies, effectively trumpeting the importance of the digital world.
2. Reduced cost per acquisition
Using digital marketing solutions also helps reduce cost per acquisition (CPA), which is the cost involved in acquiring a new patient. A US survey, for example, indicated that the most common advertising channels like TV and print media cost about $348 and $314 per patient, respectively. On the other hand, using digital marketing strategies can reduce overall costs by 50%.
3. Strengthen patient relationships
One great perk of digital marketing is that it helps to strengthen relationships and communication between a patient and healthcare provider. Healthcare businesses or professionals can connect with patients through various digital marketing channels, provide them with essential information, and receive information from patients. That promotes healthy bilateral and effective communication between both parties.
Research suggests these improved relationships support positive behaviors such as filling and taking prescriptions as recommended, getting recommended tests, and following lifestyle changes designed to improve health.
4. Offers easy access through content marketing
One of the main issues many people have with healthcare is the hassle of booking appointments to see their healthcare providers, getting test results in a timely manner and in a format that’s understandable to laypeople, and updating personal information. Digital transformations can change that by offering secure portals to allow self-service by patients and effective communication with healthcare professionals.
You can also use digital marketing as a tool to drive patients to these secure portals. For example, beyond using social media platforms to inform your target market, you can also use these platforms to allow patients to seek appointments directly through the content you upload on your platform. For instance, a Facebook post about colon health can have a call-to-action with a link attached for people with colon issues to directly make appointments.
5. Builds service reputation
Hospital reputation is one of the key things prospects look at when choosing a service provider. They go online to read reviews, check service ratings, and browse through the hospital website to find their specific services, equipment, procedures, and staff competence, among other things. Digital marketing strategies allow healthcare businesses to build a reputation that makes them more attractive to prospective patients.
6. Reduces marketing budget
Digital marketing can also cut down your marketing budget. Marketing through channels like social media platforms, search engines, and email campaigns is significantly cheaper than using traditional mediums like billboards, TV, and newspapers.
Healthcare businesses need digital marketing just as other businesses do. In an age where the power distance between patients and physicians is closing and financial challenges more salient, adopting digital marketing makes a lot of sense. If you’re interested in learning more about practical healthcare marketing strategies, check out this article: https://www.terraboost.com/blog/pharmaceutical-marketing-strategies/
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