16 July 2015
One of the great challenges of our time is managing the cost of healthcare. There's an ageing population creating an increasing demand on services as budgets shrink.
Healthcare is a political hot potato. In the UK, NHS England predicted that in five years’ time, the gap between budget and rising costs could reach an incredible £30 billion. And the US spends 18 per cent of its GDP on healthcare each year – far exceeding that of other developed countries.
Healthcare is important to everybody, but because spending like this isn't sustainable, the industry is looking to a light on the horizon – the rapid advancement of technology.
Goldman Sachs experts recently released a report claiming the Internet of Things (IoT) could result in a major spending reduction in healthcare. Digital healthcare could 'revolutionize' the industry, increasing access to diagnostic, treatment and preventative care, while reducing costs.
It mentions telehealth for example, which allows patients to seek medical advice without having to set foot into a doctor’s office, and remote patient monitoring, which could keep track of high risk patients.
As the Financial Times states of the US tech industry, "a new crop of health technology entrepreneurs have jumped on the Affordable Care Act health reforms to transform a sector that was an investment backwater and notorious technology laggard into a space overflowing with innovation and opportunity."
Healthcare Content Marketing
And this is where marketing comes in. Tech companies we've worked with in the healthcare space are growing their communities and reaching diverse audiences and markets. These include healthcare professionals like doctors and nurses, or healthcare decision makers involved in operations, IT and procurement.
The social and content marketing tactics we use for healthcare focused tech providers are similar to the ones we use in other industries.
For example, research is crucial. It's impossible to market to people you don't understand. We look closely at influencers on social media to understand the types of people who might engage with the community we're looking after. In healthcare, this could include journalists, publishers, government organisations and e-health professionals.
We also tap into search to identify the terms through which our audience is finding healthcare content that is of interest to our clients. And we take a look at audiences, identifying and segmenting a healthcare audience who are active on social media.
From this research, we then pick out themes and ideas which will resonate with the audience we're trying to target. Areas we've picked out in the past for clients include IoT, personalised medicine, mobility, privacy and security, and the secure cloud.
Only then do we get into more detail about content channels, be it owned channels like a blog, Facebook or Twitter; or PR and earned media like web and print news publications. Once there, you've got even more things to think about, such as content creation, community management, paid social, and the data analysis/reporting that client-side marketers demand.
Why should health providers care about content?
In 2012, 72% of internet users said that they looked online for health information. That’s a huge opportunity for both healthcare technology startups and established players. But currently, there’s often a gap between what these companies provide and what a potential audience is looking for. And with information overload, especially on the web, it can be difficult to get this content to the right people.
Good content marketing helps. We can turn difficult and complicated information provided by healthcare and technology companies into content an audience can understand and absorb, whether B2B or B2C. We can listen to the community, understand what kind of content they’re looking for, and provide it in different ways, be it an article, tweet, Vine, or YouTube video.
Content creation is only part of the battle though. Great content is only valuable if it reaches the audience it’s designed for. And whether it’s a channel like search, social media, email or PR, companies in all industries need either the people in-house or externally to make sure this happens.
Whatever the rights and the wrongs of it, healthcare is a huge and competitive market in which the attracting of customers is massively important. Traditionally marketing methods in healthcare haven’t been quite of the standard of other industries, but as we have seen with our own clients, this is changing. No more than that – it has to change, and we’ll be there on the front line.