What Is Healthcare Marketing?
Changes in healthcare are forcing healthcare providers to reevaluate the way they do business. Whether you operate a primary care practice, a small group clinic or a private hospital, you must utilize effective healthcare marketing strategies to overcome the challenges facing the business of medicine.
Medical practices and other healthcare entities are businesses. The purpose of a hospital is to help sick people become well, but that same hospital has to generate a profit in order to continue to serve its purpose. The same goes for primary care practices, cosmetic surgery centers and group clinics; healthcare marketing enables these organizations to experience sustainable growth.
How Does Healthcare Marketing Work?
In today’s competitive world, the financial challenges healthcare entities must face include staying profitable through and after healthcare reform, combating increased global competition, and staying competitive in their marketplaces and attracting new paying patients. Healthcare marketing helps overcome these challenges by facilitating relationships among hospitals and physicians as well as between medical centers and patients.
Effective healthcare marketing will use a variety of advertising, branding and promotional tactics to interact with the community, build trust, display expertise, and gain new patients. Many hospitals and private medical centers spend a portion of their marketing budgets creating relationships and awareness among health-related organizations and local physicians because new hospital business comes from both marketing and physician referrals.
A Variety of Strategies
Successful marketing within the healthcare sector must include digital media. Using both offline and online advertising and branding tactics increase reach because many people make their purchasing decisions based on what they see and read online. More traditional marketing channels include print advertising, direct mail, brochures, newsletter, outdoor and radio. Online modes of communication involve multimedia campaigns that include web design, online marketing, search engine marketing and social media marketing.
When it comes to healthcare, word-of-mouth and internal referrals still play an important role in generating new business for private practices, hospitals and medical centers. Trust, safety, and comfort are all important to patients, and no amount of marketing will make up for below-standard care or negative customer service experiences.
Key Aspects of Healthcare Marketing
Marketing is a complex discipline that requires using a variety of tactics in order to be successful. Certain aspects of marketing are critical when developing a strategy that works in the healthcare sector. These include designing an effective plan for success, maintaining a meaningful web presence, developing a reliable and sustainable referral network and building a peak-performance, patient-focused team.
Most importantly, it is critical for healthcare entities to realize that they cannot make all of this happen internally. Employing the expertise of marketing and public relations professionals is tantamount. Remember that websites must look professional and provide fresh content, marketing plans must include the nuances associated with the fundamentals of marketing, and advertising must have a sense of purpose and strategy behind it. Healthcare professionals are entirely too busy to do these things effectively, which is why they must create a marketing budget that allows for professionalism and long-term effectiveness.
Examples of Effective Healthcare Marketing
The multi-award winning “We Dare You” campaign from United Healthcare stands out as the gold standard for what can happen when healthcare organizations engage with their following. With monthly “dares,” quizzes and prizes on their website, United Healthcare encourages followers to make one small healthy change per month and document it on social media. This interactive campaign not only leads to healthier habits, but it also fosters an interactive online community of brand loyalists.
Another example of effective marketing is the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog, the goal of which is to unite diverse patients from all over the world into a global online community. The blog showcases stories from patients, family members and Mayo Clinic staff. These inspiring stories and the sense of community that comes from sharing them in one place plays directly into Mayo Clinic’s well known reputation as a trusted healthcare resource.
Healthcare marketing has become an increasingly important element to the success of healthcare providers across the globe. As technologies advance and competition continues to increase, the ability to use a wide array of marketing tools and strategies will enable physicians, hospitals, medical centers, and clinics to continue to focus on what they do best. Heal.
If you are interested in a career in healthcare, consider pursuing a degree in this field.