It’s hardly a well-kept secret that the healthcare industry exists within a perpetual state of precariousness. As a society, we look to the wide array of healthcare professionals for unbiased solutions to issues related to our personal well-being. However, as with members of any industry, those professionals offer a series of products and services that exist to be marketed for profit. And therein lies the issue, since none of us want to think of ourselves as consumers when it comes to the health care that we receive. After all, our well-being isn’t some kind of negotiable currency, is it?
It is this unease, coupled with the relative lack of transparency offered by healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, which creates a need to re-engage the consumer positively. So, from the perspective of healthcare marketing professionals, the challenge comes in finding new ways to market to consumers, in order to overcome consumer distrust over being marketed to. Talk about a vicious cycle.
And while some might argue that the industry requires no help to turn a profit, it’s this revenue stream that funds continual research and development which benefits us all. With that in mind, one could argue that marketing (as well as consumer) dollars are well-spent, making it essential for healthcare marketers to ask themselves: do your marketing initiatives employ the right strategy to cultivate consumer trust? Do they encourage continued vagueness, or add refreshing transparency? Do they establish you as a valued resource to those who stand to benefit from your products and services?
If your answer to these questions is “no,” then you’re not doing enough. And if your answer is “yes”…well…you’re probably still not doing enough. After all, if you look at consumer trust of the healthcare industry as a twenty-foot hole, you’ll need more than five feet of dirt dropped into it in order to climb your way out. Although, if we’re going to continue that metaphor, we can think of that first five feet of dirt as the need for accessibility.
A Trusted Resource
It seems so simple: anticipate the needs of prospective customers, as well as the questions most likely to be asked, and make that information available to people who need it. When it comes to both pharmaceutical treatments and healthcare services, there is an insatiable demand for such information, and countless benefits to be gained in establishing consumer trust.
For pharmaceutical companies, this means abandoning the saccharin sense of vagueness that has been so over-utilized in marketing to-date. While no-one benefits from a cold, clinical approach, the last thing that someone needs is a two-minute montage of a fun family picnic with a string of possible side-effects recited by a paid voice actor. An evolved online presence is key. Present the information that needs to be presented, and expand upon it regularly with testimonials and blog posts. Share third-party insights, and debate them as necessary to battle the ever-present risk of misinformation. Make healthcare an inclusive experience, rather than the exclusive one which (to-date) consumers feel as though they’re no longer part of.
And for primary care physicians, practices, hospitals, and even insurance companies what better means of presenting such information in a comprehensive and cost-controlled manner than through online web portals? Such secure and personalized sites can establish and reinforce trust upon a foundation of accessibility in this digital age. By making records and data more easily obtainable, and empowering relationships through direct interaction with doctors and nurse practitioners, is a simple solution, and one too obvious to deny.
Add in the ease with which new information and insights can be shared (through blog posts, social media sharing, etc) and it serves to reinforce a more inclusive culture of healthcare.
But this idea of an evolved online presence, in whatever form it takes, it simply the foundation of a modern digital marketing campaign for anyone in the healthcare industry.
We mentioned it above, the need to battle misinformation. In this world where technology provides everyone with a platform upon which to reach the masses, it can become easy for inaccurate or uninformed perspectives to be both born and fed. From online reviews to public rants on social media platforms, word-of-mouth has never been so accessible, influential or scathing in its immediacy.
While other industries might require little more than traditional reputation management services to weather the storm on online commentary, the healthcare industry is more unique in the demands placed upon it.
Unlike other industries, effectiveness is about so much more than interacting with unsatisfied clientele. You’ll be engaging with the ill, the struggling, the caretakers, the scared, the underserved and even the litigious. In the face of scrutiny, everything matters, with accuracy, responsiveness and tactful presentation leading the charge. Review your online presence and ask yourself: are people exiting their web sessions feeling confident about the products and/or services that you offer? Do they feel well-informed, despite the previous misinformation? Do they feel as though their concerns were addressed in a timely fashion? Did they receive a personalized experience that put them first?
The above the questions should inform your approach. Remember the twenty-foot hole that you’re still digging your way out of? By creating an accessible online presence and establishing yourself as a trusted resource, you gained about ten feet of soil upon which to stand. With the proper responsiveness to online activity, you’re making your way to a point where you can pull yourself out.
It’s Less About Insurance, and More About Assurance
Regardless of which aspect you are a part of, the healthcare industry deals with all of us at our worst. It finds us unable to function at our best, and critically in need of care. Healthcare professionals can no longer be inaccessible, unresponsive or lack transparency. Consumers demand more of everything, and the preservation of their personal health is no exception.
Are you escaping the vicious cycle of traditional healthcare marketing?