What is Healthcare Marketing?
Healthcare marketing, also known as healthcare communications, is a multi-disciplinary practice through which service providers communicate to their patients. This communication encompasses a wide variety of media channels, both online and offline, and aims to engage, educate and motivate patients.
In an attempt to improve patient satisfaction, experience and overall health outcome, learnings of marketing theory have been integrated into healthcare. Through this, communication is expanded beyond the traditional patient-doctor interaction to cover the entire patient pathway.
Why is Healthcare Marketing Important?
Currently in the UK, chronic disease accounts for 9/10 leading causes of death (PHE, 2017). To effectively treat such illnesses, long-term lifestyle changes are required to bring about meaningful health outcomes. Healthcare marketing can be used to engage patients in the provision of their care and motivate them to adopt healthier lifestyles.
This not only benefits the patient themselves, but also reduces the tremendous economic burden chronic disease places on public services. Through educating, empowering and motivating patients, public health targets can be achieved at a lower cost.
Healthcare Marketing Strategies
Strategy can be broadly divided into two sub-categories: patient acquisition and patient retention.
Patient acquisition focuses on bringing new patients into the practice. This marketing strategy integrates traditional outbound and inbound marketing practices. Such outbound strategies include: broadcast and print advertisements, social media advertising, search engine marketing, email, phone-call or text notifications and billboard adverts. Inbound marketing strategies include: blogging, owned social media posts/ interactions, search engine optimisation and email subscriptions.
Patient retention focuses on keeping patients and building a relationship with them. This is achieved through understanding the 4 stages of customer-based brand equity; through which the process of relationship development is outlined. These stages are brand identity (who are you?), brand meaning (what are you?), brand responses (what about customers?) and brand relationship (who are you to me?). To understand how these stages interact, check out our article on brand equity in healthcare and pharmaceutical which outlines the entire process.
The field of healthcare marketing is a dynamic, rapidly evolving place and new trends and strategies are constantly emerging. The digital revolution has had a major impact on the industry, enabling communication to extend beyond the clinical encounter. For more specific information on current and future marketing trends, check out our article on 6 Healthcare Marketing Trends 2019 and Healthcare Marketing Trends for 2020: Looking Forward.
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Public Health England (2017) Major causes of death and how they have changed. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-profile-for-england/chapter-2-major-causes-of-death-and-how-they-have-changed [Accessed 24/10/19]