Marketing ought to be the easiest thing an entrepreneur can do. I mean, spread positive vibes about your business, place a few ads on Google, distribute leaflets—a piece of cake, right?
Well, to an e-commerce business, this is no no-brainer. But a health or a medical business is another story. Healthcare marketing poses unique challenges that can be extremely difficult to contend with if you’re not a healthcare professional.
From stringent HIPAA regulations and public perception of healthcare to understanding medical insurance and telemedicine adoption, marketers in this domain face all sorts of challenges.
Worst of all, there’s the issue of decreasing patient loyalty.
A 2018 Kaiser study revealed that an overwhelming 45% of Americans don’t have a primary caregiver. And without a solid base of loyal customers, any business is doomed to fail. In this guide, we’ll enumerate these challenges and provide possible solutions to help you streamline your healthcare marketing and grow your business.
What Is Healthcare Marketing?
As the name suggests, healthcare marketing is simply marketing for health and medical businesses. It entails developing, implementing, and communicating customer-centric and scientifically proven strategies to attract a diverse patient audience.
Think of it as tools and tactics you can use to increase awareness of your healthcare facility, attract patients, and grow your business. From a healthcare website to simple brochures to social media marketing programs, healthcare marketing involves many different strategies aimed at creating awareness and building a reputation.
Challenges of Marketing a Health or Medical Business
As mentioned, marketers experience many challenges when promoting a healthcare business. We’ll explore these challenges and touch on possible solutions.
Challenge #1: Understanding Insurance
Marketing for general products is pretty easy.
As long as you have a general understanding of the product features and are good at digital marketing, you can attract consumers from all walks of life. Things can be tricky, however, with marketing for a health or medical business.
Health and insurance go hand in hand. That means to succeed in this business, you’ll need to have in-depth knowledge of different insurance types, such as Medicaid, Health maintenance Education (HMO), Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), and more.
As a marketer, you must understand which plans are in network with the doctor and which ones are not, as well as which treatments are covered by each insurance type. And you must be prepared to answer insurance questions whenever a customer calls.
Educating your people on the various insurance types available and the treatments covered and not covered can make things easier for marketers. This allows them to prepare informative, well-written marketing materials and provide valuable information to patients.
Challenge #2: Writing Copy for Healthcare
Imagine writing a marketing copy for Alkaptonuria or Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome. Unless you’re a doctor, you might not understand such disorders, let alone write about them.
Plus, knowing the medical lingo isn’t enough; to create deeper marketing analysis, marketers must understand the conditions and diagnosis at a much deeper level. This can be hard for an ordinary marketer who only specializes in SEO and link building.
There’s also the issue of HIPAA compliance. Marketers must promote services while respecting patient’s privacy and confidentiality.
Unlike regular web content, where you can use customer testimonials to improve your business credibility, you can’t use patient info to build trust, as this goes against HIPPA rules.
Assemble a writing team consisting of writers with a medical background. Advocate the use of clear and concise language. Avoid jargon at all costs. For your content to resonate, focus on benefits, not features. Communicate how your services address their needs.
Challenge #3: HIPAA Compliance Issues
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA, is a federal law that protects health data from being publicly disclosed.
Enacted in 1956, HIPAA mandates the confidential handling of healthcare data for patients in the USA. HIPAA impacts healthcare marketing in big ways, particularly regarding data utilization. Basically, it limits how marketers, physicians, and other healthcare providers can use and share patients’ data.
For businesses, HIPAA limits the targeting methods a marketer can employ.
For instance, it prohibits the use of Protected Health Information (PHI) for marketing purposes without consent from the patient. This makes it particularly difficult for healthcare providers to target people based on specific health conditions.
Encourage your people to brush up on HIPPA rules and understand how to implement a sound marketing strategy that doesn’t violate them. Consider hosting a HIPAA compliance training to educate your team on the fundamental HIPPA rules they must know and abide by.
Challenge #4: Embracing Omnichannel Marketing
Digital media has immensely transformed healthcare marketing. To effectively spread the word and reach a wider audience, healthcare marketers must embrace omnichannel marketing, which encompasses marketing across multiple channels.
While omnichannel marketing drives results, it presents a number of challenges to healthcare marketers. For instance, healthcare facilities often struggle with fragmented data. Most of the available data is usually fragmented across different systems and departments.
Integrating data from medical CRMs, electronic health systems, and other sources is key to delivering a personalized experience. However, fragmented data can impede the implementation of a unified omnichannel marketing program.
Leveraging artificial intelligence and automated systems can help streamline data in an organization, making it easy to implement omnichannel marketing.
If you offer dental services, you could solve the omnichannel problem by using the services of a reliable marketing platform for dentists.
These platforms simplify marketing for dentists in many ways. For one, they facilitate omnichannel marketing while freeing you time to focus on strategic tasks. By creating a cohesive strategy for all your dental marketing channels, these platforms allow you to manage all the channels from one platform, which also leads to cost savings.
Challenge #5: The Changing Healthcare Landscape
The healthcare industry is at the cusp of a tech revolution. The industry has been changing frenetically, making it difficult for marketers to catch up.
A few decades ago, the only option available for patients was to visit the nearest healthcare facility for treatment. Today, home doctor visits are very common in the US, with 13% of doctors reporting making house calls more than once a week.
Telemedicine has taken center stage in the medical revolution, with more than 80% of Americans reporting having accessed care via telemedicine.
While telemedicine is convenient for patients, it presents challenges to marketers. Marketers need to figure out how to position the ease of telehealth visits, especially for patients accustomed to traditional in-person consultations.
Marketers should embrace technology and take advantage of telehealth platforms to highlight how easily patients can access these platforms. Communicating the benefits of these platforms can facilitate broader adoption.
Marketing for a healthcare business can be challenging.
Understanding the challenges you may face when marketing a health or medical business can help you maintain steady patient traffic all year round.
What other marketing challenges do you face when running a healthcare business? Share with us in the comment sections below!