Big changes at the major social networks. Updates to search engine algorithms. The increasing importance of online reviews. These days, keeping up with the steady stream of changes that define digital interaction can seem overwhelming. Little wonder, then, that many doctors decide to leave the details to those with the technical skills required to respond accordingly.
At the same time, though, there are larger shifts in the works that anyone who hopes to connect with healthcare consumers should be aware of. You don’t need an advanced degree in SEO to understand them but as the speakers at a recent symposium called “Marketing in the Age of Person-centric Healthcare” shared, they’re redefining how and where people research their healthcare options and what providers will need to do to reach them:
New players are changing the rules of engagement
The big takeaway for healthcare companies is that they’re not just competing with other healthcare companies in their sector; they’re competing with Apple, with Google, with every consumer experience patients have out there in the digital world that are raising their expectations. It’s fairly easy to stay out in front of your competitors in a niche healthcare environment. It’s much more challenging when you start looking at it in a more ‘consumerist’ view.
It’s important to have that consumerist view because it’s those companies that are going to come from left field that offer that kind of experience that are absolutely going to displace the established players.
— Stefan Tornquist, VP of research for Econsultancy
They’re no longer mobile phones; they’re mobile connectors
What excites me the most about healthcare and mobile are the incredible opportunities that we have with these devices. If you stop thinking about your phone as a phone and more as a box of sensors and all the different things we can track — motion and location and all kinds of things — we can know quite a bit about what users are doing. Combine that with healthcare and it gets really fascinating.
— Michael Griffith, creative director at app-maker Bottle Rocket
New data sources will determine marketing strategies
We have the technology that allows us to map people’s brains and look at which areas are lighting up at what time when they’re being exposed to any kind of marketing stimulus. We then go back and correlate that with any responses they may be having to the stimulus, looking at what points are things going into memory, at what points are things being relevant personally and at what points are people emotionally engaged.
— Pranav Yadav, CEO, Neuro Insight US
As healthcare evolves, adapting to the changes is the key to effective marketing
While many of the changes rocking the healthcare industry today (Obamacare, outcome-based payments, etc.) have a limited effect on aesthetic medicine, the trends cited above are only going to become more important as more people spend more time online, on the move and on the lookout for doctors who make the effort to engage with them through the channels they prefer. In that light, it’s okay to let your web team implement the day-to-day tactics and technologies required to keep up but understanding the macro-trends that are driving the changes will help ensure that you’re around to reap the benefits.