[Second of two parts.] Healthcare continues to reinvent itself with near-constant changes in delivery systems as well as in the ongoing competitive battles in marketing and advertising. Here are more of the forward-looking trends, strategies and tactics that hospitals and medical practices need to consider for 2018 planning and beyond.
Many of the trends and tactics of the future are either inspired by or caused by the pervasive growth of the Internet and the digital age. Continuing our list from Part One:
Digital marketing and advertising win out. In many categories, digital media is fast becoming the first choice as more effective than traditional media. For healthcare marketing, the Internet is the front window for consumer research and hospitals/provider selection. Digital marketing trends, strategies and tactics need to be at the front of the patient-winning plan for 2018.
Cater to informed consumers as never before. Consumerism has jumped into healthcare’s lap. The marketing battle for new patients is played out long before the first appointment phone call. Lead by examples in the retail world, the service industry, and most business/sales environments, patients are no longer simply patients. The people that you want to attract and retain in hospitals and healthcare delivery systems are informed, consumer/customers. As never before, they are guided by—and willing to post—physician ratings online. What’s more, they make or withhold, provider recommendations that strongly influence the buying decisions of others.
Consumer/patients can afford to pursue convenience and customer satisfaction. Convenience is the new competitive currency. Individuals are ready to change to embrace the new patient-centric world where their time is as valuable as a doctor’s time. As never before, patients want convenient and prompt appointment times, for example. Many are unwilling to wait days or weeks for an appointment. Change has driven a greater consumer reality where it is reasonable to expect and demand a retail-consumer experience.
Patient Experience is not just what you say—it is what you do. The world that patients know from retail to service industries sets a new bar for healthcare delivery. Reality and expectations must align in order to build a positive and continuing relationship. The patient’s actual experience must match the expectations that marketing and advertising has painted. The marketing and branding message that captures the prospective patient’s attention needs the payoff by the staff, the provider, and even the physical office environment.
Show me—right here, right now. Many forward-looking articles have correctly touted the rise and impact of online video for social media and website content. But above and beyond pre-recorded YouTube clips and explainer content, the Internet has seen a big shift with the arrival of live or streaming video. Video has long been respected for greater impact than text and graphics. And live stream presentations—enabled by ubiquitous WiFi and broadband—are watched three times longer than “regular” video. The popular social media—Facebook, Twitter and others—now enable continued growth of streaming video.
Talkers are gaining on the Typers. Voice-driven searches are an important, but a low profile trend that will quietly gain traction with consumers. When convenience is the watchword for Millennials and others, online searches by voice are gaining on typing two or three words. In addition, voice recognition and computer interface are standard with non-keyboard home convenience centers, new appliances and vehicles. The consequences are important for marketing professionals and SEO planners who need to consider natural language terms, long-tail expressions and keyword questions and phrases.
In many respects, the healthcare industry has been a leader in adopting technology that aids the provider and benefits the patient. In other ways, the industry has been slow to adopt patient-centric advances—procedures, policies and technology—that are now standard fare in the retail experience.
The hospitals, medical groups and marketing savvy doctors who are actively finding more new patients proactively use advertising, marketing and digital tech and beat the competition. They have set their course toward the horizon and beyond, and they enable future today.