It is extremely common for individuals to seek healthcare provision outside of what their employers have to offer. People are doing their own research, and picking and choosing. The result from this new behavior is US healthcare companies having to truly learn consumer need, create products that are relevant to those needs, and tailor marketing campaigns to appeal to consumers. This was not always the case, as healthcare companies did not have to worry about securing customers for the future. Yesterday’s customers were always tomorrow’s customers as well. Now, healthcare marketers must listen as well as adapt to current needs in order to make themselves relevant.
So, why has healthcare changed to a more consumer-driven industry? The U.S. demographic is a large contributor. Not only do more people have an entitlement mentality, but healthcare issues are more pronounced for the Baby-Boomer generation, and the U.S. outspends all other countries in healthcare. Another contributor is the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The healthcare system is adapting to this change as the ACA aims to provide quality healthcare for all as well as reduce costs. Providers can be reimbursed based on patient satisfaction as well as medical outcomes, so there is much more incentive for them. The third contributor to a more consumer-driven healthcare industry is technology. Consumers are becoming more and more informed as information is easily available with the Internet and mobile apps. People can research treatments, outcomes, and interact with other patients on their experiences.
So, how can healthcare marketers be sure they are on the right track? First of all, they must ask themselves about their data. Do they have the right amount of data needed in order to reach the consumers they are going after? If not, what data needs to be acquired? Second of all, what systems are in place? Is there a proper infrastructure that allows them to access their data and use it to create firm relationships? Thirdly, is their marketing team where it needs to be? The team should be made up of knowledgable consumer marketers with good experience. Last but not least, they must assess their current processes. Has the sales process recently changed? Are the current marketing tactics measurable? What are the main metrics? They must change in order to acquire and retain consumers as well as keep them satisfied.