The doctor can see you now – virtually. As emergency rooms fill up with COVID-19 cases and surgery centers and doctors’ offices reduce the number of people they see, the healthcare industry has had to rapidly retool how they operate to weather the pandemic. Here’s a look at healthcare now and how healthcare marketers can successfully prepare for the future.
Telemedicine is on the rise. Many consumers have shifted to using telemedicine for conditions that aren’t life-threatening to minimize their virus risk.
According to Kaiser Health News, “Millions of Americans are seeking care by connecting with a doctor electronically, many for the first time. Health systems, insurers and physician groups said it allows people to practice social distancing while reducing the spread of the disease and protecting health workers. Many hospitals have also recently added telemedicine services to keep patients concerned about the coronavirus from clogging their emergency rooms.”
These telemedicine services include new operations and processes, health-related wearables and text messaging programs so healthcare systems can successfully treat and educate patients from afar. And adding these services now during the crisis can pay off later. According to Global Market Insights, telemedicine was a $45.5 billion global industry in 2019 and is expected to grow to $175.5 billion by 2026.
To adapt to the healthcare industry’s latest changes – the shifting consumer needs, the recent technology innovations and the latest consumer messaging advances– here are three areas healthcare marketers should focus on now for the greatest long-term impact:
While facing today’s influx of patients, prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19 patients as states reopen and all the patients who deferred elective care or put off doctors’ visits during the first part of the year. From a billing standpoint, rescheduling surgeries and visits are positives. But ensure your healthcare system can handle increased demand and address any operations gaps as needed. Train physicians and nurses on virtual encounter best practices and smooth out any technical issues with online scheduling or services. Delivering efficient care, whether in-office or online, is key to ensuring patients’ long-term loyalty to your healthcare brand.
Making an emotional connection is critical in these sensitive times. According to a recent survey by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, 43% of people say they want messages that are “reassuring from the brands I know and trust.” Communicate clearly and work to connect with patients and prospects. Share all the careful planning you’ve done to ensure patient wellness and safety as your medical offices and specialty departments reopen. Patients who have put off elective surgeries and other doctor appointments will want your reassurance it’s safe to enter your offices. Build your go-to-market strategy now so when the time comes to reopen all your facilities, your patients and their guests will be confident all the proper health-related precautions have been put in place.
The brands that will fare best during COVID-19 and beyond are the ones who can both accelerate their telehealth capabilities and then promote them to the right audiences. The pandemic expedited the need for virtual care, but if you’re ready and able to promote those services through paid campaigns, you can capitalize in the long term. Patients realize they have more virtual and digital options for healthcare services than ever before, so shine the spotlight on the online services and remote monitoring tools you offer. Most importantly, regularly examine how your products are being received and how your messages are performing. Which ones are the most popular and successful? Once you identify them, shift your organic and paid media creatives to align with those trends.