Healthcare Marketing 2.01 Feb, 2009 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response
Web-savvy consumers push DR marketers to break down emotional, physical and digital barriers.
In the marketing industry, healthcare stands alone — a unique segment, in which consumers become highly invested in research and education long before committing to a product or service. Today, with the Internet readily available to most Americans, more consumers are spending countless hours online to research preventive medicine, healthcare products and services, and post-diagnosis treatment and lifestyle support groups.
More than 60 million U.S. adults are Health 2.0 consumers — using health blogs, online support groups, prescription rating sites and other health-related social media applications — according to a study by Manhattan Research. With people actively seeking information, it is a great opportunity for marketers to reach consumers where they are already looking: television, Web sites, chat rooms, online communities — and now, mobile devices.
No longer is television the be-all, end-all way for healthcare marketers to advertise to a large population, with hopes of reaching a small pool of potential clients. Instead, marketers are shifting from mass media communications to more personalized advertisements, often in digital channels. This change coincides with the move from marketing almost exclusively to physicians and providers to directing ads to consumers. The challenge: educate consumers, while also coming up with targeted, relevant offers. In addition, marketers are challenged to break down consumers' emotional barriers when it comes to trying out new drugs, products or services and convince them that the results may not be instant, but there are long-term benefits.
Microsoft's HealthVault fits the needs of today's consumers, who are looking to manage their own medical information. The online tool, which is marketed through E-mail, display ads, direct mail and healthcare events, has partnered with more than 100 companies to create a number of tailored applications for customers.
Consumers Take Control
One of the most noticeable industry trends in the past few years is the move by consumers to take control of their own and their families' healthcare needs. While some uncertainty remains in how the healthcare system in the United States will be affected by the new presidential administration, the fact is that Americans no longer want to trust others with their healthcare decisions and will continue to take steps to monitor their own healthcare needs.
Aetna has distributed more than 200,000 copies of its educational health tool "Navigating Your Health Benefits For Dummies," through its Web site, direct mail campaigns and other initiatives.
One new tool that is putting the control of healthcare in the hands of consumers is Microsoft's HealthVault. The idea for HealthVault began when Microsoft saw an opening in the market for a tool to organize personal health information. Historically, a person's health data is scattered among doctors' offices, and so it can be difficult to switch insurance providers or for a hospital to make informed decisions in the case of an emergency.
Launched in October 2007, the online health manager is geared primarily toward women aged 35-55 — those most likely to make the family health decisions — who have children at home, are organized and educated. These women are not only protectors and managers of their own families, but sometimes-elderly parents and in-laws. This demographic is also busy and looking for products and services that make life easier.