4 trends healthcare marketers should watch in 2022

Happy 2022, fellow healthcare marketers – may it be your best year yet! As we gear up for whatever the next 12 months will throw at us, Iet’s look at the four most important shifts industry insiders should pay attention to moving forward, from healthcare consumerism to the rise of the omnichannel mindset. 

1. Healthcare: consumerisation is 99% complete

Give or take. Gone are the days when if people felt sick, they headed to their GP or the nearest hospital right away. For example, if you’re based in the US, you can now drive to one of the 1,100 MinuteClinics (owned by CVS, the largest pharmacy health care provider in the States) and seek medical treatment costing 40% less than that of urgent care. Albeit the biggest, CVS is far from being the only player in the exploding walk-in clinic segment.

“This growing healthcare juggernaut, also being driven by Walgreens, Walmart, Target and even Dollar General, is now joined by Amazon. The e-commerce giant initially opened clinics only for its own employees in a few locales, but this year expanded to Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas and Boston,” PulsePoint’s Sloan Gaon writes on AdAge. The next stop? Bringing in-person Amazon Care to 16 more major cities in the US over the next twelve months, rumour has it.

Add health apps, online pharmacies, virtual care providers and, of course, Dr Google to the mix, and what you get is a landscape driven by consumers who are more empowered than ever and ready to take their health decisions into their own hands. And more often than not, they’re happy with their choices. In a recent survey by PwC, 77% of clinicians said that “new, nontraditional care venues” are maintaining or improving patient outcomes.

2. The rise of patient-centricity

It’s time healthcare practices prioritised patient engagement and unlocked better experiences across the healthcare journey. The problem is that in this arena, they’re not only competing with each other but also the cushy experiences the likes of Amazon, Spotify and Netflix have set as the new norm. According to Forbes, “Consumers expect convenience, ease of access and quick responses – not necessarily the features traditional healthcare delivery is known for. As a result, many health systems are investing heavily in improving their consumer postures.”

Recent market predictions seem to back this up. The size of the global patient engagement solutions market was estimated by Grand View Research to be at USD 15.1 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand by 21.4% by 2028. Having a decent CRM won’t cut it anymore. “Creating a lifetime of value for customers, so they’ll give a lifetime of value back, is only possible within an ecosystem that provides a unified view of the customer and their needs,” explains digital marketing expert Gavin Llewellyn on Smart Insights.

Case in point: in 2020, Roche launched a diabetes management platform for patients in Thailand, where only half of the people with diabetes are diagnosed. Of those diagnosed and treated, only a third are achieving their treatment targets. “This is a patient-centric, holistic approach, which aims to collect and integrate all disease-relevant data points into a single platform, to help physicians and other stakeholders make better treatment decisions that can be personalised for each patient,” says Roche’s Mihai Irimescu.

3. Omnichannel: a remedy for healthcare marketing woes?

Building positive, seamless patient experiences goes beyond tech, however.

Above all, it requires healthcare professionals and marketers to accept that today’s consumers can and will seek healthcare solutions on their own terms, and those terms can be wildly different. This is where the omnichannel approach scores above other patient acquisition and retention strategies. In case you’ve missed our deep-dives into what omnichannel is and isn’t, plus how to get it right, here’s a quick recap: it’s a marketing mindset that focuses on what consumers want to hear or know about, wherever, whenever and however they choose to connect with your business.

Going back to my previous example, Roche has also released the mySugr® App as part of their efforts to streamline care and improve clinical outcomes for people with diabetes. The app not only allows users to log and track relevant diabetes data on their smartphones, including insulin therapy details, current and target blood glucose levels, stress levels, carbohydrate intake and physical activities, but also provides motivational triggers to boost their therapy compliance, shows them their estimated HbA1c levels and calculates the right insulin dose for them.

This seems to be very much in line with what patients are looking for at the moment; that is, credible medical information and feedback at their fingertips, whether it’s about preventing, diagnosing or treating disease. “Patient engagement strategies in 2022 will further transition towards self-management, self-monitoring, and self-health and self-care,” writes Debanjan Purkayastha on HealthViva. “More and more digital solutions will empower patients to become more aware about their early symptoms, conditions, treatment and recovery process.”

4. Healthcare video marketing on a roll

According to The New York Times, 66% of internet users search online for information about a specific disease or medical problem. In fact, health-related searches account for 7% of all Google searches. But just because people find the answers they’re looking for doesn’t mean they understand them. More than 4 in 10 adults struggle to make sense of publicly available health content, the NHS states. And if numbers and statistics are involved, the ratio climbs to 6 in 10.

Video marketing can be health brands’ best bet to educate people about their health while establishing authority, boosting social proof and building trust. Not to mention it helps cut through a jungle of written content published anywhere from WebMD through Quora to government-run health websites. Optimised video content can make a website a whopping 53 times more likely to show up on the first page of search engines, CapMinds advises.
Let’s see a few examples from those who have successfully pivoted to video marketing, shall we?

UK-based Bupa Dental Care’s animated short film provides an answer to the pressing medical question of how the Tooth Fairy knows when a wobbly tooth is ready to go and what happens to said tooth at Fairy HQ. So far the video has amassed almost 1,400,000 views – and has probably got quite a few kids at least a tiny bit excited about dental hygiene.

With some 40,000 subscribers, Duke Health’s YouTube channel is a prime example of how to use video content to amplify brand voice – and lead with empathy – in the social space. Here they use the power of storytelling to show a young patient’s journey from losing his ability to hear to enjoying music with the help of a cochlear implant.

US-based Mayo Clinic is another heavy-hitter when it comes to video communication, reaching a variety of audiences through content that is educational and emotional, informative and entertaining. In their Mayo Clinic Minute series, for example, clinicians share quick takes on common health-related issues in 60 seconds or so, including tips on how to recognise ‘holiday heart’ or how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions. In another one, Ask Mayo Clinic, doctors answer the most frequently asked questions about complex health conditions such as epilepsy, breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. Plus, there’s a plethora of behind-the scenes videos that zoom in on the training programmes offered by the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science to inspire the next generation of healthcare professionals.

2 January 2023