This article previously appeared as an AMA Marketing News posting.
The new year represents an optimal time to examine the latest shifts in healthcare marketing opportunities.
Overall in 2019, we’re likely to see hospital and healthcare marketers work harder to connect with consumers online, to focus on specific consumer needs, and to meet those needs via more channels than just the typical office visit. Here are nine trends as we head into 2019 that offer hospital and healthcare marketers a chance to stay ahead of the curve.
- A video marketing boom. Video is continuing to explode as a marketing medium. The stats back up its usefulness: Having video on a landing page can increase conversions by as much as 80 percent. Live social media videos are also growing, with 50 percent of marketers planning to leverage them in the upcoming year. Expect to see more marketers making creative use of video to reach consumers wherever they are, and plan to do more of it, too.
- The continued growth of big data and a rising demand for people who can interpret it. The era of the electronic medical record is fully upon us, even if its implementation leaves a bit to be desired. Mountains of patient data are now available to be anonymized and analyzed in order to identify trends and patterns that healthcare providers and marketers can capitalize on. It takes a specific skill set to do this, and the demand for those skills is only going to keep rising; Amazon is even jumping into the fray and selling EMR-analysis software. Building data analysis into marketing plans can make them stronger and more responsive to consumer need.
- A greater focus on patient experience. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) funding for hospitals is evaluated on scores from Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys. In 2019, we’ll see more providers gather information via these surveys in real time, rather than post-experience, with the objective of changing negative patient experiences earlier. Hospitals need the proper tools to do this, so there’s likely to be increased competition among vendors that can administer these surveys.
- Better electronic tools for patients. Hospital and healthcare websites have traditionally focused on conveying information, such as addresses, hours, specialties offered and doctor bios. But more providers are recognizing that patients want tools like online scheduling and bill pay, e-visits, and the ability to renew prescriptions or chat live with an admin about questions. Patients also want EMRs that display data in useful ways — such as a graph that compares a user’s last four blood tests and tracks changes over time. As soon as these services are in place, and whenever they’re updated, marketers can tout them as a hospital or health system’s differentiator in the market.
- The growth of telemedicine. Convenience remains king, and healthcare providers are increasingly recognizing that telehealth will help them deliver their care faster. Many systems get their start in telehealth by testing the waters with a departmental approach, but more are now taking a system-wide approach, which is increasing their efficiency — always a key consideration factor for consumers. A note of interest for marketers: Women are more likely to use telehealth services than men.
- More native advertising. Native ads are predicted to make up 74 percent of total U.S. display ad revenue by 2021. Native advertising allows providers to deliver informative content that finds consumers where they are. Hospitals and health systems can capitalize on this trend by beefing up their sponsored content, ensuring it contains useful information that’s relevant to their target audience.
- More content marketing. On the heels of native advertising, marketing that contains the in-depth health information consumers are looking for will grow in 2019. It’s important to know exactly what your consumers are looking for online: They want to know what’s wrong with them, where they can get help, phone numbers of who they can get help from and information about how much it will cost. The more information you can provide in a format that’s findable for search engines, the more consumers you’ll connect with.
- An increased focus on millennials. Younger people tend to be healthier, but as millennials age and start to build families, they’ll need more healthcare services. This segment has different values and shops for and consumes healthcare differently than their predecessors, so marketers will need to focus more on holistic health and on providing the in-depth health information millennials seek on the web.
- Improved website SEO. Hospitals and health systems will continue to work to improve their search engine rankings, focusing specifically on appearing in local listings. This also encompasses using mobile-first site design, since Google favors responsive sites in its listings, and using a conversational tone and long-tail keywords within content.
Staying ahead of the healthcare marketing curve will position your system for success. Keep these trends in mind when planning content and strategies, and you’ll take 2019 by storm.