Before I start, you may read about “7 Predictions For How Health-care And Our World Will Evolve by 2020” from Rohit Bhargava’s Influential Marketing Blog.
In my following post, I will focus on the role digital medium in general and digital marketing in particular, will play in influencing the healthcare industry. Please note that the following are my views and not a commentary on the above mentioned post.
Digital medium will strongly influence various aspects of the healthcare sector, not just in India but globally. Although US / Europe uses the digital world for creating, consuming, sharing and enhancing health care related content extensively and this phenomenon is being increasingly adopted in India as well. More and more healthcare professionals including doctors, general physicians, healthcare service providers, surgeons, pharmaceutical distributors etc. are spending time online and with smart devices. So are patients and that is a good news for digital marketers. This holds a special significance for the healthcare industry.
Let’s take a look at why and how digital activities around medicine and healthcare will growth and shape the healthcare industry in a significant way in future.
Trust and social media – A big part of consumer behavior revolves around the “recommendation” game in social media. As much as social media is considered powerful by modern marketers, it’s been a difficult challenge for marketers to generate authentic referrals in social media. And it is not a function of amount of money spent on social media promotions, but far more dependent on how good the product is. Good products will get good recommendations. If one’s health is concerned, trust is single most important factor. A strong recommendation from a close friend about a certain treatment or medicine will surely push it in the consideration set of the customer, if not drive its adoption. Social media makes it quick and easy. People are more likely to trust recommendations from their close friends on a social network, more so when it comes to healthcare.
Behavioral targeting – The nature of the health care industry is such that behaviorism targeting is difficult to achieve using mass media marketing. Every person has a different problem, a different medical condition, a different patient history and a different requirement. Almost all treatments start with a personal consultation and a customized plan. The beauty of the digital medium is that it allows total personalization. Sending relevant messaging to an individual based on his medical problem and healthcare needs is easier through the digital medium than traditional medium.
Data based decision making – We have come a long way from the times of printed heath records, transcription records and patient history reports. Modern software, such as Amalga and HealthVault by Microsoft, allow for online data storage of medical records and health care information, not only at an enterprise level but also at an individual level. Imagine a team of doctors, getting access to a patient’s medical history before he is admitted or arrives for consultation. Decisions based on digital data of medical records, patient history, previous prescription details will make the process far more quick, accurate and efficient. That will make everyone’s life easy.
Smart devices, integration and sharing – The instruments such as Heart Rate Monitors, Blood Pressure Monitors, are becoming more and more nimble and compatible with other devices. These can be plugged into computers and their data can be captured and stored into online accounts. Smartphones are becoming compatible with such devices. In future, a wide range of healthcare devices will be smarter and will have inbuilt digital sharing capabilities, and they will also be able to integrate with mobile computing devices such as tablets, netbooks, notebooks, and smart phones. This will makes access to critical data fast and convenient. Doctors can surely make use of these data sharing capabilities during critical situations in ICU and emergency rooms and literally save lives.
Marketing and promotions – The digital medium has proven very effective in generation buzz and running promotions. By promotions, I mean sales, discount schemes, seasonal promotions, online offers, e-commerce deals etc. The beauty of the digital medium is that it gives marketers an opportunity measure what they have spent on and optimize campaigns. Healthcare providers and related businesses such as diagnostic centers will have to make efforts to get attention of online consumers. The opportunity is large and so are challenges. Social commerce websites such as Groupon, SnapDeals, will prove to be useful in generating bulk business for healthcare service providers. Pharmaceuticals companies, hospital chains, diagnostic center will implement digital engagement programs and these will consume significant marketing dollars.
Widget and applications – Here comes the fun and exciting part. Technology companies can design and develop diverse range of applications and widgets for diagnosis and knowledge sharing. The capabilities of these widgets will extend well beyond the simple BMI calculators available today. These apps will be designed around symptoms and treatments, disease classification and diagnosis, drugs and remedies, alternative and therapeutic healthcare remedies etc. Although the widgets will not be replacement for personal physician consultation, they will surely help in deciding the direction of the treatment. These will be hosted on the web, on smart phones, on smart medical devices, and will be sharable on blogs and social networks.
Online presence of related industry – There are various industries associated with the healthcare industry which increasingly rely on the online medium for growth and survival at times. For instance, life and health insurance companies spend large chunks of marketing budgets on display advertising, online lead generation and online customer engagement. Life and health insurance industry, closely related to the health care industry, present ample opportunities for online collaboration for active customer acquisition and engagement. Another such industry is medical tourism. In future, health tourism packages will be sold online and travel industry will also have a share of it. In future, western hospitals will tie up with their eastern counterparts, work with a certain insurance provider and healthcare services providers to sell medical tourism packages and a ton of these will be researched and sold online.
Clinical research and development – Needless to say, the digital world provides ample opportunities for breakthrough innovations in developing cures for hitherto unconquered diseases. The Human Genome Project, is a live example of how people around the globe made use of the digital medium for mapping the genome. A single platform used by experts around the globe to share, analysis and interpret clinical data, design and test solutions to healthcare problems and invent new theories for complex disease is only possible through the online medium.
All the above points make a strong case for the healthcare industry to think of new ways to leverage the internet and other smart platforms, for reaching customer with solutions that they need. Digital marketing is a simple, effective, cheap and measurable way to reach healthcare customers. Once this catches momentum, the health care delivery process will change forever.
Please share your views on the above.