The pandemic accelerated the importance of healthcare digital marketing across the industry; more than 93% of Americans now look online for health information. Healthcare marketing has now moved beyond billboards, print ads, and flyers to finally catch up with other industries that have embraced digital marketing strategies for decades. Many digital marketers use a suite of tools to offer digital marketing services for medical practices and healthcare startups. The few more advanced healthcare digital marketers incorporate integrated strategic directions to create comprehensive omnichannel digital marketing solutions.
Core channels in the digital marketing arena include:
- Search engine optimization (SEO) allows practices and health tech companies to increase their visibility in online search results, and drive more patient and end-user traffic to their websites.
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising enables healthcare organizations to craft targeted ads on social media and search engines toward segmented traffic, and it can be a valuable investment in lowering customer acquisition cost (CAC).
- Content marketing through blogs, newsletters, ebooks, white papers, webinars, and videos displays one’s expertise on a topic and creates trust between the healthcare organization and its existing and prospective patients.
These methods are the mainstays of a digital marketing approach to improve patient acquisition and retention.
But as we look ahead, healthcare digital marketing strategies will need to be even more sophisticated, taking into account changing patient demographics and new economic considerations. Healthcare organizations and marketing firms alike should have a keen focus on the following three areas as we tranverse 2023 and look to 2024.
The Growing Baby Boomer Population
The Baby Boomer generation comprises the largest patient demographic with over 56 million Americans older than the age of 65. Within this large demographic, a large percentage of “Boomers” are healthy and living independently. This is a group of savvy individuals who utilize digital channels to access healthcare information and often conduct their own online research prior to engaging with a healthcare practice or business.
Organizations should be evidence-based in their language when targeting this group, and they should move away from high-level, basic medical messaging. This group is especially discerning about new drugs, devices, and therapies. They will compare and contrast them to existing services that may be lower in cost.
Greater Complexity of Care
While there are many independent healthy Baby Boomers, over 60 million Americans now are living with two or more chronic conditions. Patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and neurological conditions deal with the burden of managing the complexities of multiple conditions. This includes not only medical care, but the complex social determinants of health (SDOH) such as food, transportation, housing, and education.
Marketing messaging should go beyond the benefits of medical care to address the many social challenges faced by patients and their families. A precision marketing strategy based on individual buyer personas and their SDOH challenges will add much more value than a one-size-fits-all approach.
With the rapid increase in value-based care models, organizations and provider groups are increasingly taking on financial risks to care for large segments of patients. This means that a greater percentage of reimbursement will now be tied to improving outcomes and decreasing costs of care than ever before. Lowering the cost of services and preventing emergency room visits and expensive hospitalizations have become top-of-the-list focus areas for healthcare delivery organizations. For patients, a lack of access to care, high deductible insurance plans, and recent national economic concerns have led to a greater desire to avoid hospitals and facilities, opting to receive their medical care at home or remotely when possible.
Marketing strategies should highlight options for patients to continue to receive care outside of facilities and demonstrate how they can conveniently access providers remotely.
Current and Future Directions
In 2023, smart digital marketing companies serving the healthcare industry should recognize that they must go beyond cookie-cutter marketing approaches. With an aging population, increasingly complex medical and social issues, and new economic challenges, marketing strategies that are more precise and proactively address these new challenges for patients will find greater success in the years to come.