As the population becomes increasingly tech-savvy, more people are taking their health into their own hands, literally, as handheld mobile devices become major tools in seeking healthcare information and even diagnosis. Mobile technology gives physicians the ability to manage patient healthcare more efficiently, and the opportunity to take advantage of peer networks to share resources, counsel, and best practices.
Patients have probably noticed this when going to a doctor’s appointment, where doctors access medical records, and submit prescriptions via a mobile device while speaking with them. In the future, consumers can expect their physician to tap into a network of their peers for advice on patient diagnosis and potential treatment options in real-time during examination.
With more than 13,000 health and medical apps available on mobile devices, and the estimate from Research and Markets that the mobile health market will grow by 61% by 2017 due to sales of mobile monitoring devices and integration with mainstream medicine, the future of healthcare lies within mobile technology and is tapping into a global market.
In order to stay current and help patients, mobile marketing is no longer optional in healthcare and transparency is a requirement. Consumers are taking active roles in their healthcare decisions, and marketers must adapt and develop personalized mobile marketing strategies in order to remain relevant.
As 2016 marketing plans are being solidified, healthcare marketers should be cognizant of a few major implications related to mobile healthcare trends:
1. New Competitors Entering The Healthcare Space
To help consumers manage their health, thousands of mobile apps and wearable health devices such as FitBit have appeared and gained popularity. This means the already-niche healthcare space is getting noisier and marketers will have to be creative to get noticed. Marketers should make sure their messaging is clear, focused on providing solutions, and aimed at their target audience.
2. Mobile Connects Patients to Virtual Healthcare
In 2016, healthcare marketers will need to develop strong mobile strategies to engage empowered consumers and ultimately earn their trust and business. Mobile is becoming the primary means of communication between providers within healthcare systems. With this rapid form of communication, doctors can virtually diagnose health concerns, provide treatment recommendations, and offer specialist referrals to put faster treatment and greater savings at the patients’ fingertips. In short, consumers are already empowered, and marketers will have to continue to make tools, resources and information accessible to their audience when, where and how they want it.
3. Content Over Advertising
According to Pew Research, nearly three-quarters of consumers turn to the Internet first for health answers. In light of this, there is a vast digital audience waiting to be engaged by valuable healthcare information. Due to consumer exhaustion with online ads, healthcare marketers will need to create engaging content to gain more of these individuals’ time and attention. They need to focus on creating content that is relevant to the healthcare issues consumers are most concerned about, focus on content that is highly social and sharable, and ensure the content is written for search engine optimization.
4. No Social Presence, No New Patients
Social media is a critical forum for healthcare marketing because of the time consumers spend on the platforms. With consumers already glued to mobile devices and wanting a voice in their healthcare choices, millions flock to social media to share feedback and explore their options. Healthcare brands need to follow suit to stay connected to customers, engage prospective patients, post content on their products, and build buzz about their brands. The goal of social engagement is to earn current and potential patients’ trust and preference in their brands and practices. Since social media is easily accessible on mobile and provides consumers with a personal share of voice in their healthcare, social media is expected to stay a major trend in healthcare marketing. Additionally, consumer trust in brands is fading and being replaced by a greater degree of trust in their virtual network so tapping into that network is a must to remain relevant.
The healthcare sector is evolving rapidly and it’s the perfect time to take advantage of the opportunities the mobile-enabled generation presents in the coming year and beyond.