Top 10 Trends For 2013

The healthcare and wellness industry has had quite a busy and interesting past year, certainly highlighted by the Supreme Court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act this past June. The changes this law will spur, coupled with advances in technology and a renewed focused on consumer empowerment, will continue to drastically reshape our healthcare and wellness landscape. Marketers need to keep a laser focus on key trends that will play vital roles for consumers and the industry. Below are my top 10 trends for 2013:

  1. Technology Paves the Way: Technology will continue to pave the way for a better overall healthcare system, providing a more efficient and effective experience between consumers and healthcare marketers. As the “consumerization” of technology continues, look for mobile, digital and cloud technologies to rise in importance. Marketers must understand their audiences and how they leverage these technologies. Consumers want a more engaged and valuable experience with not only their doctors and providers but healthcare brands. Marketers must make it happen.

  2. Industry Adapts to Obamacare: The bill’s primary goal—to provide more Americans affordable healthcare and reduce overall costs—is a noble effort but will have major ripple effects across the industry. Healthcare businesses and marketers must continue to focus on how it will impact their daily business and bottom line…and adjust accordingly. Marketers should be proactive and look for ways connect, engage and inform consumers of any changes, how it impacts them, and how they can benefit. 

  3. Awareness & Prevention Continues its Focus:  The simple principles of awareness and prevention will continue to be at the forefront, as chronic diseases account for many of our healthcare issues and costs. It’s a tried and true formula that provides the best frontline defense against poor health and cutting unnecessary costs across the board. Marketers who tie health and wellness to their products through awareness and prevention tactics can be real winners with consumer brand awareness, loyalty and sales. 

  4. Renewed Focus on the Empowered Consumer: There’s a fundamental shift in consumer behavior to a “do-it-myself” empowerment mentality, propelled by today’s innovative technologies. And this cultural change will get a boost as healthcare providers and businesses look to shift more responsibility to employees to help offset rising costs and put a focus on shared responsibility. As a Wall Street Journal article recently noted, look for “definitely less paternalism in healthcare offerings.” As consumers increasingly turn to self-service technologies and channels, the entire healthcare industry has a tremendous opportunity to reach, engage and interact with today’s empowered consumer. Marketers must develop smart tactics and communications to show how being an empowered consumer benefits everyone—most importantly the consumer. 

  5. Retail Plays an Increased Role: From pharmacies to in-store clinics and healthcare kiosks, retail establishments from Walgreens to Walmart to Safeway will play vital roles to connect with consumers for better healthcare access, awareness and treatments.Consumers are still frequenting brick-n-mortar stores; connecting with them where they are offers great opportunities for healthcare providers, advertisers and retailers. Marketers need a plan for engaging with consumers while in-store.

  6. Mobile, Mobile & Mobile: Despite the rise of retail, consumers are becoming dependent on their smartphones. Gartner predicts that by 2013 mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common device to access the web. This past “Cyber Monday” saw 22% of total online spending from mobile devices, up 100% from last year, according to Adobe. There is great opportunity for healthcare professionals, retailers and brands to develop innovative strategies to reach and engage with consumers when they are on the go. Another nod to consumer empowerment.

  7. Consumer’s Online & Offline World’s Merge: Marketers need to really be thinking about the complete consumer experience across all touch points. Take, for instance, CEO of National Retail Federation Matt Shay’s comment in last week’s USA Today: “What we’re going to see is that the two (online/offline) become further and further indistinguishable from one another. Everyone is playing everywhere now.” Marketers, of course, need individual strategies for mobile, retail and other platforms, but they must start to integrate all those consumer touch points for a better, more holistic consumer experience.

  8. Social’s Growing Importance: Facebook has more than one billion users, Twitter has 500 million, and new platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are growing in popularity. Social is here to stay and where consumers are increasingly spending their time interacting, learning and being influenced. Smartphone proliferation will only propel growth. Healthcare marketers need to create vibrant, engaging and real-time social identities. Social allows marketers to have a two-way, personal relationship with consumers. That’s something marketing never before could provide. Embrace it, listen, learn, engage and succeed. 

  9. Personalization Drives Consumer Experience: The rise of digital, social and mobile – along with the empowerment of consumers – is directly tied to the growing trend of consumers wanting personalized communications from brands. No more cookie-cutter approach. Consumers know you have a wealth of data about them and they expect you use it to customize to their preferences and needs. 

  10. Traditional “Lines” of Business Continues to Blur: The merger and partnership of insurers and hospital operators crosses a traditional healthcare divide. But look for this trend to continue as the industry restructures and overhauls healthcare operations. What once seemed like strange bedfellows now looks like smart, streamlined business. Marketers need to communicate how these non-traditional changes can benefit the consumer and how to capitalize on success.
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1 comment about "Top 10 Trends For 2013 ".
  1. Maria Tazi from Prophet , December 4, 2012 at 12:31 p.m.
    Great list, but I'd like to add four more trends for consideration - 1. Focus on education towards health literacy: As government starts to mandate providers to adapt their technology and increase accountability, they are also shedding light on healthcare for consumers. Many consumers will be playing catch up in the coming year to stay on top of the changes, but also get smarter. It will be our job to facilitate this process and guide consumer understanding. This can go as far the credit card industry - where all of the fine print has been re-written to be simpler and more transparent. 2. Shift in payer responsibility: While government reform will still have the greatest impact on providers, updates in technology and increased consumerism will bring payer issues to the forefront. Specifically, how can we expect providers to deliver more accessible care when reimbursement codes are restrictive? Payers will encounter demand for flexible reimbursement - covering skype visits (which is just starting) and email interactions, and be held more accountable to meet evolving demands. 3. Digital Disparity: Yes, the world is going digital and healthcare is catching up. Apps are enabling healthcare management, twitter, and facebook are encouraging engagement, and email and skype are becoming more prevalent forms of interaction. However, as millennials get their digital way, a whole generation will be left behind. Physicians that don't change their practices will be ostracized, and consumers without the digital know-how will be left to fend for themselves. 2013 will prove to be a critical year for how we balance technology with universal access - knowing one does not imply the other. As marketers, we will need to look at creative ways to engage our non-digitally savvy audience, because one size does not fit all. 4. System overload: Ok, so the topic of physician shortage may be a candidate for 2014, but we need to start managing it now. Exorbitant malpractice rates have pushed physicians from practicing medicine (did you know that because of this, there are NO neurosurgeons in the state of Kentucky?), and medical schools are churning out fewer doctors than what our system needs. With universal coverage on the horizon, we'll see an increased focus on healthcare occupations, both physicians and allied health. We'll also see more creative ways to deliver care start to surface as the ratio of physician to patient continues to thin.