Blog Trends

Healthcare Today: The Consumer Will See You Now

Gone are the days you could judge a doctor only by the diploma hanging on the wall. Growing transparency in the healthcare market is opening new opportunities and challenges for healthcare brands. Today, choice, access, and social context have combined forces to change the power equation and transform patients into more sophisticated healthcare buyers.

What type of online healthcare information are people seeking? According to a May 2012 study by Rodale, 55 percent of users surveyed who used social media for healthcare research did so to get more information about a medical condition. Reviews and rankings of doctors, hospitals, and medicines were the next-most-sought information.

Sites such as nerdwallet.com/health let consumers compare costs for procedures in their local market. With more out-of-pocket costs and higher deductibles, healthcare consumers can now research their cost options directly, as well as the reputation of different healthcare providers. That places a new imperative for healthcare brands to communicate value so that cost is not the only driver of consideration.

Social media’s growing importance

Social media has reinvented rather than replaced the long-standing tradition of people seeking healthcare advice from friends and family. Online health communities connect people with others facing similar health challenges, expanding the impact of word-of-mouth health marketing. That doesn’t mean that people don’t want authoritative information; they just want information on their own terms and timeline. In fact, more than 70 percent of internet users sought out health information online, according to a Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project study released in January 2013. Savvy healthcare brands can build awareness, preference, and loyalty by providing useful information, apps, and interactive experiences that help people take more control over their health and treatment options, as well as expert, yet accessible information that healthcare consumers can share via social media. In this tightly regulated industry, there are, of course, limitations to how brands can engage. New social media guidelines for healthcare are available from sources such as the FDA and are helpful to healthcare marketers.

Patients’ experiences as well as health outcomes now factor into buyers’ minds. Convenience of and access to healthcare—and even the attitude of frontline personnel—impact perceptions of quality and satisfaction and are widely shared in ratings and social networks. Reputation monitoring becomes a vital component of healthcare marketing.

Healthcare information technology is becoming more consumer friendly. From wearable technology that tracks and charts your health habits, to sophisticated home monitoring and telemedicine applications, the partnership between patient and caregiver continues to evolve. As do the expectations. For healthcare marketers, the evolution opens up new opportunities for compelling storytelling and customer engagement.

GLG case studies

As part of an integrated campaign for our client Intel-GE Care Innovations, GLG transformed a sophisticated telemedicine story into a consumer-friendly account of the family caregiver experience:

Intel-GE Care Innovations video

For more GLG healthcare work, see also:

Intel-GE Care Innovations website
Philips Healthcare mobile defibrillator app 

If you have healthcare marketing questions or would like to see other examples of our healthcare work, feel free to contact me anytime.