There’s a widespread evolution in digital healthcare marketing. Digital marketing has opened up a wealth of potential for new pathways to engagement for healthcare organisations.
Healthcare branding offers an opportunity to differentiate amongst competitor healthcare providers. A strong brand will help face the abundant challenges to engage with patients and strengthen those relationships. Evidence suggests that 85% of the decision-making on choosing a brand stems from emotional factors. So, healthcare brand engagement should be about real emotion, connecting with the hearts and minds of your audience. Health audiences expect expertise, compassion and technology with convenience; above all they want to trust that healthcare brand.
Undoubtedly, the smartphone has improved accessibility to healthcare knowledge. Health information is the fastest growing search category on mobile devices and healthcare marketing has seen a 30 to 50% increase in mobile traffic over the past year. Tablets too are contributing to faster access to healthcare information. A survey found that 87% of healthcare professionals in UK hospitals use a smartphone or tablet, 66% of whom use a mobile health app.
Mobile apps help doctors and patients alike and are contributing to a digital revolution in healthcare. Healthcare apps are designed to make something that should be rather complex very simple and they are estimated to be worth around £255 million by 2016. They can benefit both healthcare professionals and patients. For example, doctors can view x-ray results, track symptoms and help diagnose, monitor and treat many common diseases. In addition, health apps provide patient control, support for mental health and encourage fitness and well-being.
The US is already ahead of the curve in digital healthcare terms. 26% of all hospitals in the US use social media; 41% said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility. It’s recognised that social media provides the opportunity to personify a healthcare brand and can be used to join conversations and communities to cultivate an open, responsive environment to build stronger patient engagement. There’s an interesting difference in demographics – 18-24 year olds are two times more likely to use social media for health than 45-54 year olds for health related discussions.
Self-help websites such as Patientslikeme.com and Healthunlocked.com signpost a new form of digital engagement in healthcare. Many patients feel they can benefit from peer to peer support networks to share information. Websites like this are empowering patients to help themselves through ‘wellness communities’ – help me to help myself.
Patient-centred healthcare and digital marketing have the potential to create a major shift in how patients and healthcare organisations connect. To connect fully, a healthcare brand has to develop a singular brand vision, positioning a key framework of values that are communicated consistently. Healthcare marketers have an opportunity to create better patient experiences and build trust in the wider healthcare delivery.