Stand out from your competition by using the P’s of healthcare marketing: product, price, place, promotion, patients, packaging, positioning. The goal is not only to attract new patients by piquing their interest but also to build trust and nurture existing relationships.
Healthcare marketing now centers on the quality of treatment offered to the patient. Additionally, all modern healthcare providers, from large physician networks to health and wellness companies, must navigate government regulations and the control of insurance companies.
The cornerstone of healthcare marketing campaigns
The P’s of healthcare marketing has been the cornerstone for anyone selling products and services since the 1960s. The key factors are:
Shockingly, this original list did not include essential components to long-term success. The passing of time made marketers realize the necessity of additions such as:
While every industry recognizes the value they can gain from including these elements, they are more effective when adapted to their specific situation. What are the market conditions? Are you a nursing facility, a dental group, or a hospital?
This realization came when they discovered that it was no longer only about the doctor and the patient but also included policymakers, payers, and professional healthcare administrators.
Changes in healthcare affects how you market
Marketing healthcare to patients is not so different from any other industry since it is a business and can be marketed like one. Instead of being solely a relationship built between doctor and patient, healthcare now encompasses several facets that must work together, including:
- The patient
- The care team
- Clinicians, pharmacists, family members, and administrators
- The organization
- The nursing facility, clinic, hospital, dental group, etc. providing support to the care teams with resources and a base of operation.
- FDA regulations and the controlling party in Washington dictate marketing.
- Policymakers impact the payer system, and you need to pay attention to their impact on your marketing campaign.
Over time, the model adjusted with the changing aspects of medicine. It adapted to the modern landscape that is healthcare today. The business of healing and prescribing medications has gradually become more complicated with advancements in technology and increased marketing options.
Where the focus shifted and caused changes to the way business is executed in healthcare is represented by the following:
- The empowerment of patients and the knowledge to which they have access.
- Formulary decisions and the purchasing power behind them.
- Access to physicians and sales representatives.
Marketing necessary for healthcare businesses
Decades ago, a patient did not find a doctor so much they were appointed one. Their limited choice of insurance plans dictated their choice. Today, patients no longer feel trapped in remaining with their current doctors and hospitals. They benefit from a wide selection of physicians now available to them.
Healthcare marketing has been adapted to attain the goal of creating loyal patients through open communication. The point is to build deeper connections that lead to unwavering trust. The days when the bond formed between patient and doctor only occurred in the doctor’s office is long past. In addition to personal attention from their physician, they also receive care and information from a vast array of outlets, such as:
- Doctor office, clinic, and hospital websites
- Social media pages
- Patient engagement representatives
- Increased involvement of nurse practitioners and office staff
- Communication through apps (like MyChart) and email
Consider the options of a patient in the 1980s. They started employment at a place of their choice and had perhaps two or three insurance plan options from which they could choose. Staying in the selected network limited their options but provided a lower out-of-pocket cost. If they chose to or had to go out of network, they faced the consequences in the form of excessive fees.
Only a few decades have passed, yet the scenario in which patients find themselves is drastically different.
You are diagnosed with a rare lung condition. Instead of being stuck with the local pulmonologist who has seen only one case in 30 years of practice, you use Google to research more experienced ones throughout the country. You analyze reviews on pages that rate doctors on everything from bedside manner to competency. You look for news stories on these doctors, peruse their websites and social media pages, and look at their medical publications if they have any.
Increasing your brand awareness as a healthcare provider or healthcare institution is essential through every personal and professional media and in-person outlet.
How do I adapt the original P’s of marketing to healthcare?
Only businesses that repeatedly analyze and renovate their product’s image position themselves for growth, and there is no mistake that healthcare is a business.
You must have a full understanding of your client base’s pain points and what solutions you can offer for consistent marketing agendas. Let us look at how each P translates when speaking to the healthcare field.
- Patients will forever remain at the top of the list because they are who your marketing is aimed at.
- The patient evaluates your care as a whole and as a combined effort from the entire team.
- What makes a patient happy changes frequently. Do you still possess the appropriate skills, and the right team members available to serve them adequately?
- Product, goods, or services
- You do not have an elegant package for the patient to hold in their hands in healthcare. The product in healthcare is the patient’s happiness and satisfaction.
- Are there any additional services that you can offer your target audience to ensure their satisfaction? How do your services compare to others in your field?
- How do you want to be perceived by your patients? You want a stellar reputation, but how exactly does that look? You want your mission statement or the attributes you list in your marketing to match what patients say about you in a conversation with friends.
- The negative implication that some people glean from the word promotion may cause them to veer from this topic; however, it just means another form of communication. Social media can help you promote a positive image or brand awareness.
- Full-page advertisements in phone books were effective not even a decade ago, yet they are phasing out now. Learning the intricacies of highly effective marketing strategies can increase your brand awareness, such as Google My Business and search engine optimization.
- You provide your services at a specific location. A patient makes their decision to choose your office, hospital, or clinic closest to their home or work.
- Allowing patients to easily access you can make you their choice as well. Are same-day appointments available? Do you offer telemedicine, or virtual appointments, through smartphones, laptops, or computers?
- The packaging in healthcare is the whole experience. This includes everything from the comfort level of the waiting room, the ability to run tests right in your office, your bedside manner, and all other components of their experience.
- Bundles can be a great value. Packages of consultations, tests, imaging or services can be sold with one price.
- Price is a more challenging topic in healthcare. The perceived value of your services is what people are willing to pay.
- With the involvement of insurance companies and regulations, the price can be non-negotiable, but elective procedures allow you to form competitive pricing strategies.
- Components that are under your control can be the affordability options that you offer, such as:
- Patient financing, like sliding fee scales
- Special offers, such as lowering first visit fees for online appointments
- Do you take Medicare, Medicaid, and most commercial insurance plans?
Actionable guidelines for healthcare marketing strategies
The strategy of healthcare marketing is to facilitate a relationship between a doctor and a new and existing patient. This process can occur through in-person practice or telemedicine. With 43% of millennials projected to switch primary care providers in the upcoming years, online marketing is more important than ever.
When marketing, you must keep in mind several federal regulations, including:
- HIPAA – standards to protect patient privacy
- GDPR – seven principles for the lawful processing of personal data
- CAN-SPAM Act – regulates the context of information that can be sent in emails
So, what can you do?
- Manage your reputation:
- People used to pick their doctor through the recommendations of friends and family. Now, online reviews are trusted by 88% of potential patients, so ask patients to leave you a review. Even one or two negative ones can make them look elsewhere. Responding publicly to negative reviews is essential to improve how you are viewed.
- Partnering with a healthcare marketing agency can help you balance patient care and marketing to get the best ROI possible. Let us know if you need our help.
- Make the most of paid search ads.
- Eight out of 10 people start with search engines when searching for a new healthcare provider.
- Pay-per-click (PPC) ads can focus on your target market and offer a higher ROI since you pay for clicks, not impressions.
- Build a mobile-friendly website.
- Google leans toward ranking mobile-friendly websites higher since 60% of people use their phones or tablets to access the internet.
- Utilize search engine optimization (SEO)
- The internet is highly competitive for the medical industry, and using appropriate keywords and their placement will ensure a higher ranking in Google’s organic listings.
- Long-tail keywords are important. For example, instead of “dental clinic,” “dental clinic in Northeast Ohio”.
- SEO also consists of sitemaps, backlinks, meta tags, and more, which might be best handled by a marketing team.
- Healthcare marketing on social media
- A presence on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Tik Tok, Facebook, and Instagram allows you to connect with potential patients personally.
- Be informative
- Blogs and articles with relevant content will increase your presence. You are the brand, and information increases your brand awareness.
- Possible topics are health tips, “ask the doctor” posts, patient testimonials, and more.
Times are changing, and healthcare is changing with it. Baby boomers are reaching the years of peak medical spending, with technology granting them increased knowledge of coverage and insurance options, such as Medicare. Healthcare providers have the ability to reach their patients in a multitude of ways, so having an exhaustive comprehension of and taking advantage of the efficacy of the P’s of healthcare marketing will promote a loyalty that will last for years.