Patients First: A Revolutionary Approach to Healthcare Marketing

To succeed, marketing messages must resonate with those making buying decisions. This is a fundamental truth and achieving this will maximize ROI on your marketing investment and sales. Unfortunately, some healthcare marketers are overlooking it.

The past few years have thrust patients into the spotlight. As they take more control of their health, many are disappointed when healthcare information designed for patients neglect their needs.

Healthcare brands that recognize patients as equal partners in the quest for favorable health outcomes, and provide them the resources they need to make sound decisions, will stand out moving forward.

How can brands do it better?

Where do they go wrong?

Keep reading to find out.

Why Patients Are Playing a Bigger Role

Patients used to have a limited role in making healthcare decisions. It was primarily a matter of finding a qualified provider–and putting your trust in their hands to guide you through the process.

Widespread internet access changed everything. Now patients can research health symptoms, explore treatment options, and assess potential providers at the click of a mouse. Complete transparency and ease of access have democratized the process.

This increased access to information also comes at a time of skyrocketing healthcare costs. With rising deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses to think about, it’s now more critical for patients to “shop around” and find providers who are as affordable as they are qualified.

These two factors have pushed patients into the driver’s seat of achieving better health. It’s time for healthcare brands to tailor their messaging to reflect this new reality.

How to Create a Patient-Centric Marketing Experience

How can healthcare brands adopt a patient-centric approach to their marketing?

Here are a few key things to think about:


Image credit: matheusseroa

Recognize Patients as Equal Partners

The first significant step to more compelling marketing (and one that many healthcare marketers are reluctant to take) is to recognize patients as equal partners in the process.

In the past, brands focused heavily on providers or institutions like insurance companies and healthcare systems. Messaging used industry jargon and assumed a degree of technical understanding. It was up to the providers and institutions to find a way to market to patients.

Now, it’s critical to accommodate patients from the very beginning. Remember, the vast majority of internet users are doing healthcare research on their own long before seeking treatment. The earlier we can involve them in the process, the more time brands have to build credibility and trust.

Resonating with the average person requires a different message than interacting with an experienced provider. We have to pay close attention to the language we use, and strip it of technical terms–or at the very least, explain what those terms mean to those without medical training.

Successful healthcare marketing today welcomes patients as key players. It positions patients and providers as teammates working together to minimize costs, create favorable health outcomes, and provide quality experiences.

Image credit: congerdesign

Empower through Education

When it comes to seeking the best healthcare options, information is power.

The typical patient is stressed out, eager for his or her symptoms to improve, and often overwhelmed. There’s no shortage of information available online. But our time to digest it is limited.

Healthcare marketers can help. By translating health information into simple terms, we can demystify the process and make it more manageable. This works best if we create educational content that spans the entire continuum of care. Once a patient finds an information source he or she can trust, they’re likely to return to it at various stages–diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.

To be effective, educational content must find a balance between “informative” and “too complex to understand.” We don’t want to oversimplify the situation. Nor do we want to intimidate patients to the point where they shut down and stop seeking information.

Simple language helps, of course. And we can make the education less intimidating by creating glossaries of medical terms, using diagrams and videos, and framing our messages as if we’re having a one-on-one conversation. We can support our messaging with scientific studies, and giving people the option to read more without forcing them to do so.

Image credit: nattanan23

Emphasize Value

Sky-high healthcare costs have turned patients into bargain shoppers.

Because a greater portion of the money is coming from their own pockets, patients are eager to make sure they’re getting a good deal.

Healthcare brands can appeal to these sensibilities by emphasizing the value of their services. It isn’t merely a matter of offering the lowest price around; it’s less chance of unfavorable outcomes, fewer follow-ups, and money and time saved moving forward.

Instead of framing healthcare as an inevitable expense, brands can reposition their services as making a smart investment. This encourages patients to get more proactive about finding a solution, as well as assessing the care in terms of quality of life improvements.

Some of the best sources to deliver this value-first messaging are former patients themselves and their family members. This gives patients someone to relate to and reassures them that their health is in good hands.

Image credit: rawpixel

Listen More

One of the most important aspects of a patient-centric approach: giving up some control of the messaging.

As marketers, it’s tempting to maintain tight control of the messages we send and how our audiences perceive us. But technology has made this strategy obsolete.

It’s a waste of time to pretend we are still broadcasting one-way messages when patients are contributing to the conversation on forums, review sites, and social media. It isn’t a one-way broadcast anymore; it’s a two-way dialog.

These platforms are hugely influential in terms of swaying new patients. 42 percent of people searching for healthcare information online look at review sites. Nearly a third of them post about their friends and families’ experiences on social media.

The platforms are already there. Now it’s the marketers’ turn to listen to feedback and participate in the conversation. Simply monitoring what patients are already saying offers invaluable guidance to serve them better and craft new marketing messages that resonate.

Patients have become co-creators of the messaging. By being willing to give up some control and humble themselves, marketers can connect with them like no one else.

Standing Out from the Pack

Thriving in healthcare today requires marketers to recognize patients’ roles as equal partners in the process. Brands who focus on creating a patient-first marketing experience will stand out from the pack.


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