In this day and age of increased healthcare costs, patients are becoming more and more aware that the decisions that they make as far as their healthcare provider may have not only serious implications of their ongoing health – but also on their financial affairs. For this reason, those suffering from health-related issues are becoming increasingly selective when it comes to those healthcare providers.
This, in turn, has had an impact on how those healthcare providers interact with the community and position their services and expertise. Healthcare marketing is a holistic marketing approach by hospitals, private doctors and medical centers aimed at attracting and retaining patients. However, it is not limited to only the attracting of new patients and their retention – but also at cementing relationships between the healthcare provider and suppliers, private physicians and other stakeholders. This is because many patient referrals are as a result of the relationship that is nurtured between the healthcare provider and these parties. This relationship is in part underpinned by a reciprocal financial foundation combined with a trust that both parties will work towards the resolution of the health issues facing the patient.
Specialists in healthcare marketing use a variety of approaches to ensure that the key messages of the healthcare provider reach the many stakeholders in a clear and effective manner. The strategies involved may include both online and offline tactics in order to ensure that the healthcare provider is trusted by stakeholders that include the third parties referrers and the patients themselves.
These tactics may include traditional approaches to the challenges of disseminating effective key messages. These traditional approaches have stood the test of time and may include the production of such collateral material as brochures and flyers. it may also include in this marketing mix above the line advertising which may have tactical components such as print, television and radio advertising, as well as elements of outdoor advertising.
However, the age of the Internet and the use of search engines by consumers to identify service providers have added a layer of complexity to healthcare marketing. Today those marketing efforts may include web design for enhanced consumer relationships, search engine marketing and the use of social media in order to speak directly to the consumer and respond in real time to inquiries. The use of social media channels also enhances the chance of word of mouth referrals and cement brand loyalty.
The age of the Internet has made healthcare marketing more effective than ever before – but at the same time has contributed to increased competitiveness, making strategic marketing even more important to healthcare providers.