Jan. 16, 2020
Health & Pharma
The new decade brings hot trends in health care, and with them opportunities to enhance marketing.
Here are four ways health system marketers can take advantage of changes in the health care landscape.
Lack of awareness is one of the obstacles to the adoption and integration of virtual health services, according to a 2019 survey. We know that physicians are increasingly willing to see patients over online video. And with a growing physician shortage, continued consumer interest in telemedicine services, and the ever-changing reimbursement environment, the conditions are right for health systems to go all-in on virtual health. That’s why more health systems will be using a greater portion of their marketing budgets to promote telemedicine and virtual health in 2020.
It’s easy to say that AI will be important in health care this year: Today you can see many consumers using AI on the street with health wearables such as smart watches that track their fitness, lifestyle, and other vital health statistics. Now health care organizations are beginning to use AI to analyze information and find patterns in this stored data to increase their efficiency and value to patients. Further, in a 2018 survey, 72% of respondents said they’re willing to share that data with their health insurers.
But AI holds as much promise for health care marketers as it does for providers. Chatbots, for instance, can be a “first line of defense” in providing care: a high-touch customer service agent or even a health adviser for current and prospective patients, adding value and making it easier for health systems to build relationships and loyalty. Scheduling appointments, answering FAQs (like types of insurance the provider accepts), giving directions, and even predicting complications like medicine interactions and falls and readmissions can be automated with a chatbot. Marketers can use such innovations to demonstrate their health systems’ improvements in the patient experience while taking advantage of the customer loyalty these innovations have forged.
Consumerism in health care isn’t new. But in 2020, consumerism will be reaching further into both traditional primary and retail health care — as patient acquisition is a strategic essential for both types of providers. More traditional providers will be working to compete against retail providers like CVS, Amazon, and Google by reinventing care delivery, creating access to advanced health care technologies, and actively extending convenience-driven options such as e-pharmacies. And they’ll tackle what might be the fulcrum of health care competition: patient encounters with the broader care experience — including support staff, waiting rooms, and billing. Health care marketers can use their efforts as a proof point for the health care transformation that consumers are looking for.
A 2019 legislative mandate requires hospitals to provide “standard charge information” for common, shoppable health care items and services. Hospitals will make public their payer-specific negotiated charges: the amount the hospital is willing to accept in cash from a patient for an item or service. This transparency will both delight and frustrate consumers, providing them with more control over their clinical care but doing less to increase their control over costs. By continually evaluating consumer sentiment in their communities, health care marketers can respond by educating patients on the actual benefits and limitations of price transparency.
Whether they stem from telemedicine, AI, consumerism, or price transparency, health care industry disruptions are here to stay. The marketing challenges in health care today often center on changing consumer behaviors to adapt to these disruptions. In 2020, the most successful health care systems will value creativity and innovation over “best practices,” looking at the market in ways that competitors can’t or won’t. By harnessing the disruptive forces that drive health care delivery, health system marketers can strengthen their positioning and fuel growth.
Todd Foutz is a vice president at Reingold who leads teams specializing in patient and provider engagement through creative services, digital marketing, and public relations.
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