Health marketing is relatively a new phenomenon which has now become mainstream in the industry. Rigorous change of healthcare policies, changing consumer expectations and changing attitudes within the sector itself are the primary factors facilitating growth of marketing in this sector. Primarily, policy changes in healthcare were encouraged in the west, where this industry is very organized. It engendered the importance of healthcare services, their delivery and end consumers in the sector. Moreover, the approach of the commoners towards healthcare has changed a lot through education and awareness. Their efforts to reduce cost made have them dig deeper into market policies such as insurance and health benefits plans.
As global recession engulfed countries during early 80's, fiscal constrains enforced governments to cut short their expenditure on heads such as public health. This encouraged large privatization and commercialization of healthcare. Further, with the growth of pharmaceutical and medical equipment industry, the process received massive impetus. International collaborations and mergers begun in the nineties as entities such as insurance companies begun to play pertinent roles.
Thus, the importance of business oriented healthcare gradually took root in the landscape. Healthcare transformed rapidly into a business oriented industry with the increasing influence of global enterprises that forayed into this sector. Along with these developments, concepts like marketing gained ground rapidly.
The influx of social media and technology has determined new set of rules and requirements for healthcare segment and marketing is deemed to be an essential to address these requirements. The most important way for industry stakeholders to reach out to patients is marketing through HCPs. Traditionally, the whole industry focusses on feet on street sales to reach out to doctors. The basic reason being – there is no online world of doctors where the industry can best reach out to them. Till date, the major marketing expense is towards huge sales force hiring, training and deploying them for sales.
Repeated efforts have demonstrated that Emails, Facebook, and other online sources are not an effective way to reach out to HCPs. They are always spammed by industry stakeholders thus encroaching their personal space. Also, every major pharma and medical device company has started making their own websites and apps of their own to engage with their KOLs. If this is phenomenon is to continue each doctors would be flooded with more than 20 websites and mobile apps with repetitive content everywhere. The way out would probably be a central app which would be moderating all the communications for a doctor.
Marketing directly to patients has also taken a different turn altogether after the success of social networks. Social media and internet utility such as blogs have become prominent channels for consumer rating and feedback. Heath care organizations are allowing users to share their experiences online and even link their blogs to official websites. Peer review is an important marketing technique and it helps to mould strategic decisions.
Product reviews and ratings by consumers are reliable information to improve the prospects of the business. These, in return, assist organizations to adopt new health marketing strategies. All the major hospitals, labs, and diagnostics have developed their own online audience as against door to door and affiliate marketing that used to be before 2 years. This is just the onset of a new revolution in healthcare marketing, with time the expense in offline and online marketing is expected to undergo a paradigm shift. The positive outcome of the shift could be since – online marketing is quite cheaper compared to offline marketing, this would result in cost savings for the care takers ultimately.
Thus, the industry as a whole with time, has evolved as a new industry, started with all offline activities, immense expenditures have been incurred on creating a huge sales force. The time has started to change with the advent of various online platforms which grabs attention of care providers and care takers. This might lead to few people losing their jobs but would ultimately benefit the care takers owing to lower cost in the online marketing world.
(The Author Mudit Vijayvergiya is Co-founder of Curofy)