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2021 Healthcare Marketing Trends To Watch

2021 Healthcare Marketing Trends To Watch

There’s no other way to say it: Healthcare marketers have already cut their jobs for them in 2021. Although agility and adaptability are nothing new in the work of a professional health marketing has never felt like this. COVID19 has created enormous uncertainty, economic uncertainty, and political upheaval.Locally, nationally, and globally, healthcare is both top of mind and totally upturned. 

 

Quite the environment for building brand awareness and generating demand! 

 

However, the drumbeating and healthcare organizations must adopt if they want to stay competitive. As healthcare marketers, here are the trends we need to watch out for in the coming year: where to invest, a look back, and some thoughts on the future of healthcare marketing as we know it.

1. The Fallout From the COVID-19 Pandemic Will Be Lasting

The start of March 2020 has caused an increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations across the country. Hospitals are subject to this growing burden and face shortages of essential equipment and personnel. But the light at the end of the tunnel is now clear. The distribution of vaccines is well advanced, and we are finally seeing a decrease in cases and hospitalizations. 

 

Getting here has been a bumpy road and the impact of the COVID19 pandemic will remain in the healthcare sector through 2021. 

 

Over the past year, people and businesses have been more or less stuck in the middle, have little confidence in what’s safe, what’s not, and when it’s all over. In July 2020, LinkedIn became the latest big name to announce mass layoffs of nearly 1,000 employees. 

 

This restlessness and lack of confidence directly affect the world of health. Attitudes towards hospitals and medical facilities have been affected. 

What it means for healthcare marketers

Ask anybody in the healthcare field and you’ll hear a similar refrain: this isn’t the kind of thing that’s going to change overnight. We won’t wake up one day and never hear about COVID-19 again—not in 2021. Instead, healthcare marketers will have to do what they’ve always done. 

 

With that in mind, here are a few high-level areas of your 2021 strategy to reconsider through the lens of COVID-19:

  • Long-term growth strategies
  • Demand generation
  • Brand reputation
  • Brand awareness
  • Communication and public relations
  • Patient and partner education
  • Options for seeking care, including elective vs. non-elective surgeries

2. Effective Communication Will Be Essential

In an environment where even routine visits now seem very different – from the way they are scheduled to the way they treat outpatients in need of information. While proactive and authoritative communication has always been a hallmark of wellness brands, there are practical and safety considerations today unlike in the past. 

 

Patients want to know how to seek treatment and how safe it is to do so. Especially when it comes to COVID19, people want facts – they want information on prevention, symptoms, testing, and treatment. The ability of healthcare marketers to cut through the noise and meet this need will be critical in building trust and nurturing relationships with patients.

What it means for healthcare marketers

This is a huge branding opportunity for health marketers to humanize their communication strategies. Currently, 52% of adults online in Malaysia prefer to buy from companies showing how they protect customers from the threat posed by COVID-19. In our opinion, any communication from a healthcare brand should:

 
  • Compassionate
  • Trustworthy
  • Useful

Think about the information that your patients need right now. For example, we’ve been closely monitoring Coronavirus Search Trends from Google. A cursory glance reveals that people are seeking information about symptoms, treatment options, and a vaccine.

 

To meet this search demand, healthcare marketers can source verified, factual information from subject matter experts within their healthcare organizations and make that content available to their patient communities through various communication channels.

3. Patient Experience Will Remain a Top Priority

Have you had any recent relationships with your primary care provider or dentist? Contact before appointment, registration procedure, everything has changed. Our view is that it is not the patient’s job to “find it all out”. Instead, healthcare organizations should examine every touchpoint throughout the patient journey and, if necessary, update and improve interactions so that patients feel cared for, understood, and trusted. trust in the safety of their care.
What it means for healthcare marketers

As mentioned in the previous section, communication is essential to shaping the patient experience. Healthcare marketers should focus on a few high-level areas that must be communicated to patients in light of COVID-19:

 

  • Appointment availability and scheduling
  • Procedures for in-person and telehealth appointments
  • Accommodation of elective vs. non-elective procedures
  • New safety procedures and requirements
  • General information about COVID-19

4. Your Brand Reputation Might Make or Break You

According to research from Edelman, 71% of people will lose trust in a brand if they feel that the brand is “putting profit over people” during the pandemic. To put it bluntly, what your company says and does will have a lot more visibility—and scrutiny—in the coming year. This is especially true for healthcare businesses and brands. 

 

The good news is that 85% of people want brands to use their platforms and reach consumers to educate consumers (Edelman). Few people expect brands to stop advertising and PR altogether – they just want brands to do the right thing. What’s more, medical professionals are in a unique position to reach their audiences: According to the same Edelman report, 78% of people believe that doctors are a “trusted spokesperson” for “theirs.” virus-related actions” of a brand.

What it means for healthcare marketers

In working with healthcare organizations on brand reputation and public relations strategy, we’ve built our pandemic-proof approach around a couple of key parts:

 

Transparency. Now is not the time to selectively omit the details. If your company has had to scale back operations or make changes that impact the patient experience, be the first to let your audience know. The same goes for how you’re making patients safer, or the good you’re supporting in the community.

 

Authority. Remember that your patients are looking to you for credible information about their healthcare and safety amid the global pandemic. Provide physician-vetted information and bulletins on the channels your audiences use, such as Google Maps (your Google My Business Listing), mobile app (Follow My Health, for example), and your website.

 

Reputation. If you don’t have a review program in place designed to generate customer/patient, now is the time to do so. Not only will positive reviews help your healthcare brand’s visibility and digital reputation, but it’s an opportunity to see and respond to what actual patients are telling you and, perhaps, identify gaps in your patient experience.

 

Public relations. Now is not the time to turn off your PR activities. But there’s a twist: instead of press releases and social media posts drawing attention to the good your brand is doing in the community, use those platforms to draw attention to the causes that your brand is supporting. There’s a difference.

 

Community engagement. We know that people are turning to healthcare professionals now more than ever for credible information. Use this opportunity to moderate your communities and forums with professional input from your organization’s medical experts. It’s a chance to build awareness, answer questions, and drive engagement among your patient base.

5. Investment in SEO and Content Marketing Will Evolve

How to spend direct marketing optimally has always been a top priority for healthcare marketers. It’s a conversation we have every day. In the aftermath of the global pandemic, the nasty reaction has been to pause marketing and SEO budgets, at least for now. 

 

But that will no longer be the norm. Now the conversation has evolved into, “How can we redirect our spending to better support our patients now and in the future?” Organic search volume hasn’t gone away; people are just looking for different things. The need for high-value content has not gone away; people are just interested in different topics.

What it means for healthcare marketers

When planning the time and resources for your 2021 SEO and content marketing campaigns, think about the investments that will allow you to weather the storm while building your brand reputation and attracting attention. future search traffic.

 

Many healthcare “purchase” decisions are still high consideration, even at the consumer level. And people still find your content through Google search as a way to gauge your medical performance. 

Of course, it’s a long game to reach a high ranking. Here are a few things to focus on:
Local SEO:
Why? Because people increasingly rely on local searches ‘Near Me’ to find reliable medical methods for a variety of health needs, including family care, urgent care, and surgery. elective. Optimizing your content and listings (e.g., Google My Business) for your local markets can help you capture that traffic now and in the future.
High-value Content:
Think about the kind of information patients need right now, in 2021, that only you as the health care provider can provide. This could be a guideline to ensure the safety of children when they return to school, for example; or a telehealth getting started guide. Patients appreciate rich content that helps them take care of themselves and their families (instead of just entering their email addresses).

6. Telemedicine Will Become More Prevalent

Necessity is a big driver, and COVID19 has sparked a resurgence of telemedicine (also known as “telehealth”) options. While some appointments still require in-person visits, telemedicine appointments are suitable for visits that do not require an in-person review. This helps limit exposure and spread while keeping patients and healthcare providers a safer bet. Additionally, telemedicine provides doctors with a way to view and evaluate people with symptoms of COVID19 without direct contact. While telemedicine will not replace traditional healthcare, we anticipate that these types of appointments will become more common and essential for specific market segments.
What it means for healthcare marketers

It’s very much the job of healthcare marketers to build awareness and demand around their practice’s telemedicine options. Here are some high-level action items to get the word out and drive adoption:

 

Build a framework for the future. Healthcare organizations must examine how telehealth fits into their long-term strategy and lay the groundwork for the future. Ask yourself, does your target demographic want telehealth? How technically savvy are they? Will telehealth help you serve patients better? 

 

Create a dedicated website hub for telehealth, then update your website, Google My Business listings, social media accounts, and other channels to point to this landing page (where sensible). This page should be informative, educating patients about what telemedicine is, how it works, and frequently asked questions. Consider including video testimonials for telehealth adopters.

 

Get the word out to existing patients through email and text messaging campaigns, targeted advertising, and content marketing. Make it easy for patients to get all the information they need to take advantage of your telemedicine options.

 

Advertise to target markets. Boosted posts on Facebook, for example, allow you to reach target demographics with engaging content about telehealth offerings. You can also target PPC advertising to appear in telemedicine-related searches within local markets.

7. Healthcare (and Healthcare Marketers) Will Lean into Innovative Services

Medicine is always at the forefront of innovations in treatment and technology. Yet, the pressure on medical practices to develop new ways to treat patients and improve the patient experiences promises to increase in 2021—especially as a COVID-19 vaccination remains an open question.

 

From 3D modeling in surgery to using artificial intelligence for hearth therapy treatments, the pace of new healthcare innovations is dizzying. On the patient experience side, healthcare providers are rolling out telemedicine, curbside care and diagnostics, new healthcare apps, and AI-powered chatbots.

What it means for healthcare marketers

All of this technology can be as advanced – and as much as possible to improve the patient experience – acceptance and awareness do not happen on their own. Many patients do not benefit from these innovations because they do not know they exist or do not understand them. 

 

To increase adoption, healthcare marketers must effectively communicate these new services and create a seamless patient experience for those who seek them. Here are some examples:

 

  • The creators of the PreeMe+You app have campaigned around how data from the app is used in research for improving patient experience and outcomes with premature births.
  • Florence, an AI-powered healthcare chatbot, integrates with Facebook Messenger and Skype directly. It’s free and it integrates into those experiences in a couple of clicks, after which the Florence team has a captive audience that they can nurture until they’re ready to receive care.
  • Medical providers have broadcast brain surgery using Facebook Live or used augmented reality (AR) to simulate medical problems and treatments. Consider ways that you can give prospective patients a look behind the scenes (with patient consent, of course). More than ever, patients want exhaustive information about every step of medical procedures they’re considering, including the safety precautions you take.

8. Healthcare UX Will Be a Dealbreaker

We know that improving the experience for patients once they reach our pages is essential. Google certainly thinks so: in a May 2020 Google Webmaster Central Blog post, the company announced that Google Search will now factor UX signals into its rankings, including Google’s new Core Web Vitals

 

What this really means is the need to create effortless experiences for patients of all skill levels and digital literacy as they seek care from you through your website. On a basic level, this means that your website loads fast, is easy to use and find, and is accessible across all devices and platforms.

What it means for healthcare marketers

Now is the time to walk a mile in the shoes of your patients. Fortunately for you, there’s a dedicated Core Web Vitals report that you can pull through Google Search Console to get an idea of where your web pages stand from a UX perspective, as well as suggestions on how to make improvements.

 

This is a good place to start.

 

But do give your sites a whirl on desktop, iPhone, Android, and any other devices or platforms your users tend to use. Are there any pages on your site that load slowly? Do you have pop-ups running that, however important to demand generation, are actually annoying and intrusive for patients trying to seek care? Finally, are there experiences that don’t translate well to mobile devices?

 

Here are a few other areas to test and optimize from a UX perspective:

  • Accessing COVID-19 updates and resources
  • Making an appointment
  • Making a telehealth appointment
  • Finding a particular practice area (orthopedics, oncology, etc.)
  • Logging into the patient portal
  • Finding their provider’s bio and credentials

In Closing: Patients Are The Priority

The patient experience is a unifying theme in all of these healthcare marketing trends in 2021. In our opinion, the call of the moment in 2021 and beyond will be innovation, communication, advertising, messaging, and patient marketing – empathetic marketing, if you will. No matter where you focus your energy, the patient experience should always be the starting point. Remember, COVID-19 is just a challenge facing your patient base.

 

To this end, communication will be essential in connecting patients with the care they need. Isn’t that the essence of healthcare marketing? Marketers who can adapt to changing circumstances, adapt to market volatility, and connect with patients in a way that adds value to their journey, will do wonders for brands. 

 

Generating demand will not be a problem. Because the demand for quality health care gets you nowhere. It’s just that the patient is smarter and more selective than ever.

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