The Evolution of Healthcare
Are you aware of how rapidly the medical industry is evolving?
Digitisation, global pandemics, tech accelerations, generation gaps, demographic changes, shifts in patient mindset, the continuing rise of medical tourism…
In turn, your business and healthcare marketing must evolve with the industry, while adhering to stringent professional regulations.
New dynamics are in play that must be accounted for!
It’s time to take a fresh look at your healthcare marketing strategy.
For example, how do you establish a digital presence that is accessible to everyone — including the visually impaired? What about showcasing trust online without using testimonials? And how do you visibly engage with the community while maintaining professional boundaries?
Are you looking to develop your patient base and expand access to services without encouraging “the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services”? Do you protect patients from inadvertently revealing their own private information and exposing you to liability? And how are you safeguarding your organisation’s reputation from rogue employees or disgruntled patients on social media? Is sensitive data private and secure?
Thriving in this environment requires skilful, tactical healthcare marketing.
The essential steps of creating a healthcare marketing strategy are simple:
- Understand where you are
- Know where you want to be
- Develop the methodology that will get you there
But a truly powerful healthcare marketing strategy must be based on a deep, comprehensive understanding of both your healthcare business and the ecosystem it operates in.
Let’s get into it!
Begin developing your healthcare marketing strategy with a clear vision for your organisation. Orient yourself from a high level and consider your Unique Value Proposition (UVP), desired positioning, and foundational mission. Then evaluate the gap from where you are now to determine your core priorities.
Are you looking to expand your patient base? Open new locations? Offer new services? Become known in your community? Revamp your reputation or conduct damage control? Fend off an aggressive competitor and win patients back? Are you looking for a transformation or to solidify your legacy?
Regardless of your exact objectives, break down your core priorities into SMART marketing goals:
- Specific: state what objectives you want to achieve in clear, definite terms.
- Measurable: set markers for success. You may want to include KPI’s like patient acquisition costs.
- Achievable: make sure these are realistic, feasible goals.
- Relevant: Ensure these objectives are related to your priority areas. Don’t get sidetracked.
- Time Sensitive: have a clearly defined timeline for carrying out your plans.
Defining your SMART goals will create an overarching framework to guide you through the process. Make sure any objectives, KPI’s, or action plans you develop fit within it.
If you’re feeling particularly inspired you can get granular and create SMART goals for any area of your healthcare marketing strategy.
This is where you develop a comprehensive understanding of what you’re dealing with. You need to understand your organisation, patients, business partners, the competition and landscape of the healthcare industry.
All medical organisations are not alike. Your healthcare marketing strategy must differentiate your business and set it apart. To do that you need to define and develop your healthcare brand.
Even regulated service providers can develop their own unique brands, just start thinking about what makes you unique and stand out.
Do you offer excellent reception service? Prompt last-minute appointment bookings? Virtual or mobile reception services, with estimated wait times? Are clinic staff particularly accommodating of parents with young children? Are you open late for working professionals? Make in-home visits? Do you provide a soothing environment for stressed out (or anxious) patients?
Your brand is your unique value proposition in relation to your patients. What does it do for them and how do they perceive you?
What are they getting from you that’s superior to the competition? Alternatively, where do you need to improve?
Turn your organisational vision and unique value proposition into a well thought out brand identity that resonates with your ideal client base.
You’ll then be able to use this branding to create cohesion across all of your healthcare marketing activities and develop strategies to develop brand awareness amongst your patients.
It is highly advisable to develop a messaging policy as a set of guidelines on communicating in a way that reflects your brand, values, and standards. A healthcare marketing communications policy must present professional, unified messages that align with your brand and are considerate of professional and legal boundaries and regulatory restrictions.
All your communication activities will refer back to this. Your core message identity must remain consistent across channels and when communicating with the public and media alike. All employees and organisation representatives should be aware of it the tone and manner they should conduct themselves. Version your document and make it a part of your quality system so it’s available for everyone and protects your indemnity!
An effective healthcare marketing strategy is based on intimately knowing the different client, partner and patient personas you are speaking to. Clearly identify the essential pain points and needs that bring them to you.
Then develop your core marketing messages around the positive impact your services deliver. You can now build on the framework created by your goals, branding, and message platform.
Your website is the foundation of your online presence. All your online healthcare marketing activities begin and end here.
Your website is as important as your physical office, if not more so with the rise of telemedicine. It creates trust, establishes impressions, markets for you, and facilitates connection.
It must be easily found, easily navigated, accessible, and secure. It should instantly communicate who you are and reflect your professional standards.
In order to use your website as the basis for your healthcare marketing strategy it must be technically sound. Security aside and simply put, this generally means optimising it’s performance for Google. A whopping 94 % of Australians search through Google, so it pays to do everything you can to meet Google’s technical standards.
Here are a few key things to be aware of….
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. This means making sure a website meets the technical requirements needed for search engines to find them, navigate through them, and list them back to the public.
Today, this translates to optimising your website for mobile devices, making it fast, secure, and properly structured.
Technical SEO is an entire field of its own, so keep it simple. In general, you want to focus on creating the best user experience possible. Since Google wants to remain the go-to search engine for its own customer base, they give priority to websites that are seen to be user-friendly, fast, safe, helpful, and relevant.
Web accessibility is critical in healthcare — especially when in-person services are unavailable. The best healthcare marketing strategy will go to waste if your website is not user friendly and accessible.
“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web
You must account for those with auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, visual, and spatial disabilities. You need to be aware of those browsing while ill or with physical injuries. Make it easy to use!
Your practice website must also load quickly and minimise data transfer to accommodate for mobile users or those with limited internet access. Optimisation of images is one easy way to work towards this goal.
It must be easy to directly contact you and obvious on how to do so. If navigating your website evokes feelings of frustration or confusion, your reputation will take a direct blow.
Think of website accessibility as a human rights issue. Take special care in creating a experience that can service everyone who needs it.
Build for Mobile
Australians primarily use their mobile phones to find trusted healthcare services. So make sure your website is mobile optimised for browsing, finding information, and contacting your medical business or healthcare organisation.
Click-to-call and click-to-message buttons can help to facilitate easy connections. As highlighted by Google, 66% of Australians find the ability to directly call from a website extremely important.
Providing the convenience of integrated online bookings will skyrocket the number of patients who book new appointments at your practice.
Healthcare Content Marketing
With technical considerations taken care of, this is where your core healthcare marketing messages can start to take centre stage.
But first, be aware of the law!
Rules of Engagement
Australian law is stringent when it comes to advertising regulated health services.
When applicable, you must familiarise yourself and all relevant team members with the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, your National Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and the Guidelines for Advertising a Regulated Health Service.
Section 133 of the National Law forbids using patient testimonials to advertise healthcare services. This means you can’t display testimonials about your service (or anything that hints at a testimonial) on your own website or any platform you control.
Instead, you can use your website to build the confidence of patients over time. Demonstrate expertise through helpful, authoritative content that answers their questions and soothes anxieties.
Take advantage of the incredible opportunity you have to become a personal authority in their world.
You can facilitate dialogue and gain further insight into who you are serving. While this is incredibly valuable for further developing your healthcare marketing strategy, you must be careful to protect their privacy. Remove any comments that inadvertently reveal personal information.
Healthcare practice blogs are considered social media by AHPRA and are also subject to professional guidelines. Personal, cultural, religious opinions may be considered violations of professional conduct codes.
Once your technical infrastructure is optimised, implement a healthcare SEO plan to draw the right people in.
In essence, this means orienting your messaging around the specific phrases people use when searching for what you offer.
Always frame your content around what your intended audience wants, needs, and is actively looking for. Do this by performing keyword research before creating any blog content and web page copy.
Scatter your location throughout your content to improve your local search engine rankings. People often add “near me” to their search terms.
Filling out your free Google My Business profile will increase your rankings in local Australian Google searches, map results, and provide direct phone access.
Attract New Patients
Videos are exceptionally powerful in healthcare marketing because healthcare professionals are universally trusted and held in high esteem.
Videos can take the place of service testimonials and allow practitioners to speak directly to potential patients and their families.
Videos are also a fantastic way of cultivating organic traffic and improving your rankings. They are incredibly helpful, but still under-utilised. As a result, they’re highly prized by search engines like Google and social media platforms such as Facebook.
A healthcare marketing strategy that uses a variety of them will instantly put you above the competition.
You can create videos that showcase your offices, walk patients through procedures to dispel fears, provide behind-the-scenes insight, and give general information.
And production doesn’t have to make use of high-end professional equipment. These days most smartphones are more than capable of producing adequate quality video for the web.
Include a range of videos in your healthcare marketing strategy to quickly build traffic and trust.
Email-based healthcare marketing gives you the power and permission to market to your patient base at-will. This is a powerful retention healthcare marketing strategy. You can not only bond, but show you care by sending out automated reminders that reduce appointment no-shows and bring patients in for more regular visits based on past history or milestones in their life.
Online medical directories and review sites such as Mediflare are your way around the ban on website testimonials. A friendly picture, clearly written practice information, and good customer service are the keys to success on these platforms.
It’s fine for patient’s to provide reviews on external sites, as long as no compensation or rewards are promised. Your primary role is ensuring patients receive excellent service and responding to any complaints before they take them elsewhere.
Content writing, SEO, and email marketing work over a longer timeframe. For healthcare marketing that brings instant results, use location specific search engine advertising.
This guarantees that you only reach people in your area who are actively seeking what you offer. And that you only pay for those who click through to your page.
Paid advertisements are proven to bring in high ROI and should be included in your healthcare marketing strategy.
You can jumpstart a practice or use it continuously as one source of fresh leads. It’s amazing how few healthcare providers take advantage of this channel, so the chances are you’ll be ahead of the competition by including it in your healthcare marketing arsenal!
Restrictions aside, social media is still a powerful medium for bonding, reputation development, and cultivating your brand.
You can share helpful visuals, interesting perspectives, general health and wellness tips, etc….
Be careful not to mix your personal and public profile. In fact, keep in mind that there is no such thing as truly private social media.
And keep in mind that registered health practitioners are still held to codes of conduct for what they post on their personal social media pages.
Use the same code of conduct in your personal exchanges, as you do in your professional ones. You may want to avoid the risk of slipping up, by hiring a professional healthcare marketing agency such as Fluidic!
Improve Your Healthcare Marketing
Always keep track of your results to ensure your healthcare marketing strategy is on target. This means analysing your results to accurately gauge your Return On Investment (ROI) and response to adaptations in your approach. Small iterations can sometimes deliver exponentially different results, so it’s important to optimise thought constant testing and measurement.
Continually adjusting your tactics to stay aligned with your healthcare marketing goals is the key to consistent growth and expansion, so make sure you have the right tools in place to provide the transparency and insight you need to make timely and informed decisions.
As a HubSpot partner agency we highly recommend their marketing stack, but it’s entirely possible to build your own version using a combination of other tools.
However you do it, make sure you can see how people are finding you and track their journey from stranger to customer, so you have the insight required to keep improving — without it you’re flying blind and pouring valuable dollars down the drain!
Where can I find healthcare marketing laws?
The Medical Board of Australia provides information on how to advertise a regulated health service.
What should my healthcare marketing budget be?
There is no one-size-fits all so set your budget to be whatever you can reasonably afford. A smaller monetary investment will require more work and time from you, plus take longer to deliver meaningful results. A good rule of thumb is that you should spend 10 % of your revenue goal on marketing and advertising efforts.
To get a better idea you may like to use our calculator to estimate your potential return on investment.
What are some healthcare marketing ideas?
Try implementing on-site text messaging or chatbots to make your website more interactive. Engage with your community through sponsorship of local events and newsletters.
Are there healthcare marketing consultants or specialists to help me?
Fluidic Agency has trusted experts who can help you with all aspects of healthcare marketing.
What are the latest healthcare marketing trends?
At the time of writing virtual mental health workshops are a patient engagement trend we’re seeing more of (as a result of COVID-19).
What are some healthcare marketing strategies for creating value in the patient experience?
Provide convenience through online appointment booking and automated reminders. Implement automation to follow up with patient’s after their visit. This can provide value information about their experience and help you identify areas for improvement.
What are my social media healthcare marketing responsibilities?
You can find out more information by downloading a free guide from the Australian Medical Association here.
What are some healthcare marketing problems?
Maintaining a good reputation in a time where issues can quickly go viral is paramount.
- Think with Google — Micro-Moments Guide: How Australians Find and Choose Health Services
- Think with Google — The Digital Journey to Wellness: Hospital Selection Infographic
- IQPC: Australian Healthcare Week Blog
- PWC Australia: Healthcare
- ANDHealth: Digital-Health_— The Sleeping Giant of Australia’s Health Technology Industry
- Healthcare Finance News: PwC report shows importance of social media to healthcare
- Australian Industry and Skills Committee: Health Industry
- CSIRO Data61: Telehealth in Australia during COVID-19 and beyond: Insights
- BEKERS Health IT: How COVID-19 is changing hospitals’ marketing strategies
- W3C: Introduction to Web Accessibility
- Mondaq: What are the rules in advertising health services and therapeutic goods, including testimonials?
- AHPRA: Advertising Hub
- AHPRA: Advertising a Regulated health Service
- AHPRA Media Release (14 Dec 2020): Guidelines for responsible advertising in effect today
- Office of the Australian Information Commissioner: Australian Privacy Principles
- Training.com.au: Top 5 Medical & Healthcare Industry Trends for 2020
- Strategy & PwC Report: Australia’s Healthcare System — An Opportunity for Economic Growth
- Journal of Medical Marketing: Device, Diagnostic and Pharmaceutical Marketing: Can Healthcare Marketing Be Classed as ‘Excellent’?
- KPMG: COVID-19: Opportunities in mental health through virtual care
- Business Queensland: Marketing Promotion Strategy
Need some help?
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