Influencing Your Influencers Critical Questions in Healthcare Marketing
The age that we live in presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities in healthcare marketing – in part because the determinants of healthcare decisions are numerous, continuing to evolve and changing in real time.
In the not so distant past, a uniformed professional, usually with the right academic credentials and experience, influenced a person’s healthcare decision. Healthcare marketing, then, was one-dimensional – static and relatively simple.
Consider the following common scenarios to see how today’s healthcare influencers are far flung, diverse, omnipresent, and sometimes not even human.
- Smart wrist bands measure and share data about a person’s physical exertion on social networks, and in the process, force even non-active people to adopt activities that promote physical fitness, even if only to deal with peer pressure.
- Young adults are playing an increasingly important role in influencing the health of their parents and grandparents by being more in tune with technology and current medical trends.
- Reviews and feedback offered by other patients, caregivers in forums and message boards may influence a medical consumer to choose one of many options, which in case of a diabetic might be whether to use a pen or pump for insulin delivery.
The point is that interactive digital media and social networking have made such deep inroads into our lives that it would be naïve to assume that they play anything less than a critical role in healthcare choices and decisions.
Also, the onslaught of lifestyle diseases, technological advances in healthcare treatments, regulations and economics of healthcare marketing in different countries and availability of real time information on mobile devices have made marketing decisions difficult and complex.
If identifying the one who drives healthcare decisions is a challenge, the pace of technological change has now made that influencer a moving target.
Add to this complexity, the implications of embracing a global market, where the pace of information exchange has shrunk the geographic divide, even while each market continues to preserve its strategies around the 5P’s of Healthcare Marketing.(Physician, Patient, Provider, Payer and the Policy Maker)
There are some indications that collaboration among key influencers is already influencing the way healthcare is rolled out across emerging and developed markets :
- When providers and health care companies partner with family physicians to proactively educate patients, there are more informed options available to patients.
- When medical insurance companies influence patients to adopt a healthier lifestyle in exchange for a reduced premium, it is a win-win for both.
- When patient compliance regimes are monitored by doctors through smart phone apps, there is an increased accountability and a higher inclination to conform to the treatment plan and drive potential cost savings.
In summary given the pace of change, it’s safe to assume that identifying and developing a relationship with the ‘Influencer’ is a time consuming, but productive activity – one that needs careful planning and thoughtful action.
Here are the two questions your marketing team should be asking –
Have we got our influencers right? Are they a key part of our marketing strategy?”