Commentary

How Peer-to-Peer Marketing Is Valuable As Healthcare Marketing Gets Complex

The rise of social media over the last decade has kept healthcare at large on its toes. For one stakeholder in particular, doctors, we’ve seen a slow but constantly evolving level of engagement across a range of forums, social platforms and apps. These were designed specifically for them to communicate with each other and brands, like other health systems, conferences, medical device and pharmaceutical companies.

But as the pace of medical innovation becomes increasingly difficult for these doctors to keep up with, the short and sweet of digital marketing and social media best practices is not engaging doctors at the level required to get them to change their practice. Instead, an investment in educational, peer-to-peer marketing strategies is on the rise in healthcare to account for the new level of depth and insight needed to influence a doctor’s practice. This investment in engaging, valuable content is a complete reverse of the aggressive marketing tactics used by industry for decades.

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Industry and hospital partners are gaining deeper understanding into the how doctors educate and re-educate themselves. Healthcare’s transition into evidence-based medicine has introduced more steps into a doctor’s clinical decision making process after becoming aware of a treatment option. Instead of simply writing a new script, physicians have approvals to obtain and are required to backup their choices in their practice. There are three steps a doctor goes through in this process: 

1. Doctors need to comprehensively educate themselves. This means they need to access as much information on the treatment option as they can.

2. Doctors need to compare alternatives. With many options to consider, a doctor needs to feel confident in how this treatment compares to others. This is especially important when outcomes are similar, so other factors like learning curve, patient education offerings and more could come into play.

3. Doctors need to consider peer input. Doctors seek out peer advice to further evaluate safety and efficacy.  

Historically, the above steps all happened in silos, making it time-consuming for doctors. Social media has opened up access to more peers to engage with for considering input from doctors one trusts. Digital marketing efforts have attempted to improve education, but primarily only achieve awareness levels not deep enough to influence a physician’s practice easily. Long-form video education, when placed in a social setting, creates a space for doctors to move through all three steps in their clinical evaluation. 

The engagement levels of these videos speak to an evolution in physician marketing, how they consume information and how they promote even their own expertise. Statistics show long-form educational videos are capturing doctors’ attention for increasing periods of time, anywhere from 13 minutes to long as 40 minutes.  

Hospitals, key opinion leaders, and industry players of all sizes have an exciting opportunity to bring value to the doctors they are trying to reach through much more than a banner ad or social media post. The opportunity is authentic, thoughtful dialogue that contributes to the clinical decision making process.

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