What exactly does it mean to stay relevant in healthcare? Is it more of a marketing approach towards patients and the care services you offer or is it about keeping up with trends?
The answer would be, in fact, a mixture of both. By staying up-to-date with healthcare trends, you augment your care offerings and in doing so, can easily market your offerings to your patients and increase your customer base.
Keeping Up with Marketing Trends
Of course, there are many trends to keep up with in healthcare. What I address here is specific to marketing and not the hundreds of hot topics discussed each week. When looking at a broader perspective of the trends currently employed and marketed in the healthcare industry, we can see a pattern around the following topics, among others:
- Patient expectations
The topic of eHealth is not new and continues to gain visibility on the Web. The modernization of healthcare tools has led to entire conferences being developed around the electronic information and communication technology topic. It may not be a new trend, but you can bet it will continue to be a hot topic.
Healthcare marketing trends will always favor patient-centric campaigns as patients are your target audience. It’s important to keep up with the way patients approach their health and how they expect to receive it, as this will be what catches their attention.
Much like patient expectations, consumerism in healthcare has led patients to view their healthcare much like they do any other service they receive. Immediacy is key as the new wave of technology-driven patients expect instant personalized care where there is less hassle when booking appointments, less time waiting in the practice and quicker follow-ups. They also want online resources and tools, preference choices and more convenient appointment hours.
Understanding these trends and changes in consumer behavior will be key to staying competitive and retaining patients in the long run.
Implementing Relevant Healthcare Marketing Strategies
It’s no secret that you want your patients to keep coming to your practice and that you want to increase your patient base. Other than providing the best quality care, is that not the ultimate goal?
By implementing relevant marketing strategies, healthcare organizations can better engage with their patients and remain competitive in a constantly emerging industry. Some of the key elements to consider and incorporate in your healthcare marketing strategies revolve around:
- Understanding Consumers (Patients)
Medical practices can directly seek out their patients and either promote a survey or take the time to talk to them in person. Taking the time to ask them their satisfaction level with your practice, changes they would like to see or other elements that they feel would augment their care is a great way of understanding their needs and how they want to approach their health care.
This strategy also encompasses figuring out what buyer channels patients use and diffusing relevant content. If you spend the necessary resources to understand your buyer journey and their needs, the next step is to broadcast this valuable content through channels where patients will actually see it.
In order to truly reach your audience, you need to understand where they spend their time, what channels they spend the most time on (social media, video, email, events, etc.) and provide content that will be valuable and engaging to them.
- Keeping up with Trends
As previously mentioned, staying on top of trends will play an important role in your marketing strategy. Valuable content also includes talking about hot topics, new technology, and whatever is important to your buyers. By staying relevant in your content, you will attract a valuable audience base and in turn, patients.
- Following Industry Influencers
One way of staying on top of trends and hot topics is following key industry influencers. These may be people on social media, advisory boards, personal mentors or other. Being an influencer means they have a large audience listening to what they are marketing, buying the products they test and more. It’s a great way to either stay in the shadows and build content around what they are promoting or reach out to them to advertise your business to a large target audience.
- Utilizing Technology
There are many technological tools that can help a practice stay ahead of the competition. Leveraging marketing budgets towards digital media can be very beneficial for practices. It allows them to invest in technology that promotes engagement and builds deeper connections.
Technology such as marketing automation platforms allow practices to capture leads, nurture them and analyze behaviors. Using data-driven strategies can help understand campaign performances and spend valuable money where it will reap the most benefits.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can also help practices understand how they interact with patients and potential customers by using data analysis. Focusing on consumer history, it provides practices with insights on how to improve patient relationships, retain patients and seek new ones.
- Continuously Improving
Perhaps the most important strategy is to never sit on a successful marketing strategy. There will always be changes in the industry, whether it be buying behaviors, technological advancements, trends and others that will require you to shift at least one element of a strategy. By continuously keeping a watchful eye on your strategies and tweaking necessary aspects, your marketing efforts will keep paying off rather than being a one-shot deal or perhaps a fluke.
Staying relevant in healthcare is a constant battle of keeping up with a constantly changing industry. Pay attention to your patients, understand how they want to approach their health and implement the changes you can based on your available resources. Start marketing your business as much as you can. Know what you can offer and how it appeals to your target audience, build your strategy, measure its outcome and learn from your mistakes.