Global experts agree that 2020 will go down in the history of the healthcare industry as a digital tipping point. For years, health tech companies have been making more services available via telehealth, but many healthcare providers and patients resisted. Until 2020. COVID has disrupted the implementation and delivery of healthcare, accelerating the inevitable telemedicine revolution.
It couldn’t have come at a better time. In 2017, Americans spent over $3.5 trillion on healthcare — that’s $10,739 for every person in the country. Approximately 133 million of us have at least one chronic condition — like heart disease, asthma, cancer, or diabetes — which are tied to more than 80% of hospital admissions. These chronic conditions are typically not curable, but with the right care plans and technology, they can often be prevented or managed.
Studying the buyer’s journey of both providers and patients and following them through their choices will help you engage them where they are and successfully adopt the healthcare industry’s digital disruption.
The Biggest Disruptions in the Healthcare Industry
Now that the traditional clinic and hospital model has been disrupted, the healthcare industry’s new digital care model is bringing healthcare home for millions of patients — patients that make up your target personas. From podiatrists using cameras to treat patients with diabetes, to addiction specialists prescribing drugs for opioid dependency over video, Covid-19 has healthcare professionals providing virtual care that, until now, was only thought to be feasible in person.
The 2020 Deloitte Report predicts that: “By 2040, the consumer — rather than health plans or providers — will determine when, where, and with whom he or she engages for care or to sustain well-being.” The biggest healthcare industry disruptions that will help us adjust to the post-COVID era will be:
- Interoperable data: aggregating and storing individual, population, institutional, and environmental data on one platform will become the norm.
- Open, yet secure platforms: site-less health infrastructure will link consumers and health stakeholders while setting high-security standards components.
- Consumer-centric and virtual care and community: patients will be much more engaged in care communities and will use technology to research, track, and report on their conditions and treatments.
Let’s look closer at each one of these determinants of the healthcare industry’s future.
Currently, the healthcare industry is comprised of disconnected hospital systems, health plans, pharmaceutical companies, and medical device producers. By 2040, patients are predicted to be at the center of the health model with interoperable, always-on data enabling collaboration among an ever-widening array of providers and services. Healthcare industry disruptors will provide more precise, less complex, less invasive, and less expensive interventions and treatments.
Health is already being defined holistically, incorporating mental, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual care to attain an overall state of well-being. Having access to and owning their detailed health data will enable patients to make decisions about their own health plans and priorities.
Open, yet secure platforms
Companies that produce these services will be the disruptors of the healthcare industry:
Healthcare organizations that collect, connect, and secure health data are building an economic model around patient, population, institutional, and environmental data that will drive the future of health.
Developers that create algorithms for health data are conducting research with AI analytics to find insights that humans can’t generate.
Data and platform infrastructure builders
Companies that build infrastructure, interfaces, and platforms that enable efficient workflows and an optimal user experience will empower clinicians and their patients.
Deloitte projects that the healthcare industry’s focus will shift away from treatment to prevention and early intervention. This means you’ll be marketing to more health-conscious consumers who want more control over their care plans. Marketing to tech-savvy populations that invite AI into their lives will require subtle content strategy, style, and tone adjustments.
Organizations that will enable this transition will be involved in:
Healthcare for well-being
Specialist clinics and care-delivery centers will be joined by community health hubs, virtual platforms, and app developers to drive customized health and well-being promotion — on customers’ terms. What does that mean for your organization? Doing in-depth persona research will help you understand each customer type’s definition of well-being.
Health products innovators and manufacturers
What we consider medical products are no longer limited to pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Wellness products include software, applications, wearable devices, and even health-focused foods. Smart toilets with always-on sensors may test for nitrites, glucose, protein, and pH to detect infections, disease, or pregnancy. Smart mirrors may distinguish a harmless mole from melanoma. Smart toothbrushes’ breath biome sensors may detect genetic indicators of disease.
Virtual health providers and wellness coaches
Virtual care providers and health product developers need support structures. Their communities could be geography- or condition-specific. Treating patients will now also require catering to their family members and support communities that will be involved in care planning and delivery.
Specialty care providers and local health hubs
In 2040, though there will be some specialty centers, most health care will likely be delivered in local health hubs in retail settings with condition-specific facilities — like shopping malls for education, prevention, and treatment of most common conditions — that will connect patients to virtual, home, and auxiliary wellness providers. Targeting these niche markets will require marketers to educate themselves on the ever-expanding array of services and health models.
Healthtech for Holistic Care
Since patients will be more active partners and decision-makers, they’ll be more attuned to their own health information and act on it using these technologies:
Health maintenance apps
According to Statista, the healthcare industry is one of the top three fields to accelerate the growth of mobile devices like glucose monitors, blood pressure and heart rate trackers, urine sample analyzers, and even portable electrocardiogram machines.
A variety of healthcare industry personas are already integrating wearable devices that track our steps, sleep patterns, and even heart rate into our lives — and there are more to come.
Medtech companies are producing always-on biosensors and software into devices that can generate, gather, and share data.
AI could soon be analyzing patients’ and providers’ parameters and creating personalized health insights to monitor well-being and trigger real-time interventions to help them prevent sickness and disease.
Consumers want their health information to be portable and interactive. They’ll vote with their wallets for healthcare industry transformations that mimic e-commerce and mobility in other sectors. They’ve already adopted these transformational tools:
- Smart watches: These handy devices collect and analyze patient data between appointments or after surgery by providing valuable insights that can inform treatment.
The next generation of sensors, for example, will move us from wearable devices to invisible, always-on sensors that are embedded in the devices that surround us.
- Activity trackers: They measure the amount of motion, activity patterns, and some features of movement such as steps and intensity in more detail than traditional step-counting pedometers.
- Voice search: In 2020, 41% of adults use voice search at least once per day and 62% of smart speaker owners say they’ll use voice search to make a purchase in the next month.
Achieve Your Mission With Digital Tools Your Personas Use
Understanding how convenience-driven patients search for healthcare is critical. Here are some stats to keep in mind when developing a marketing strategy in the healthcare industry:
- 77% of patients seek providers on search engines before booking an appointment
- 54% of patients want to use their smartphones to communicate with healthcare providers
- 88% of patients check online reviews to evaluate medical providers
- 45% make healthcare decisions based on information from social media
Many healthcare industry players will find themselves competing with retail, tech, and e-commerce giants who are well-versed in reaching your target audience. Keep up with them by learning to leverage digital channels like SEO optimized websites, PPC platforms, email marketing, and reputation platforms like Google reviews to:
- Boost your brand awareness and brand presence
- Showcase your quick, convenient digital care
- Make your website accessible to your target audience with an intuitive user experience
- Reach out to your target audience via paid channels
The best way to reach your future clients and patients is to meet them where they are while they’re searching for your product or service.
Address Healthcare Industry Disruptions When Targeting Personas
To turn new customers into brand ambassadors, follow the time-tested Activate-Educate-Engage strategy to keep your value top-of-mind — and ideally, top-of-tongue — when prospects are recommending healthcare industry services to friends and family.
Enable your patients to seamlessly start their journey with you by crafting simple onboarding content. Then, nurture them through email campaigns to make that content more compelling. If it’s taking longer than you thought to activate a customer, research their needs and pain points and address each one for each unique persona.
Future patients and medical customers respond well to mobile applications, educational information, summarized health information, as well as text reminders and alerts about condition management or limited-time offers.
What knowledge, opportunity, product, or service selection do your future patients or healthcare industry clients need in order to make a well-informed purchasing decision? What kind of reminders, tracking devices, or apps will keep them engaged with your organization?
Frequent, consistent automated communication keeps you top-of-mind. Social media forums, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and webinars create a community where they can get answers to pressing concerns and meet like-minded healthcare peers.
Engage anxious, curious, or determined patients with your brand, your service, or your solution through wearable devices like glucose monitoring devices, heart rate trackers, musculoskeletal movement trackers, calorie counting smartphone apps, and sleep monitoring apps.
Make sure they know how to upload their data to your patient portal so your care teams can analyze and prescribe actions. Even mature patients with mobility issues can remain engaged with home monitoring systems that ensure safety through hyper-communication.
Prepare Your Marketing Strategy for the Future
Your B2B and B2C customers are keeping up with exciting changes in health delivery and you need to follow suit. Just starting to adjust to all the fast-paced healthcare industry disruptions? Learn to create your own healthcare marketing strategy with help from Uhuru’s healthcare marketing strategist, Whitney Cole.