Article | July 17, 2020
The COVID-19 virus (C19) pandemic is turning out to be the event of the century. Even World War seems timid in comparison. We are in the 4th month of the virus (in non-China countries) and have gone past the lockdown in many places. Isn’t it time we re-think the approach? What if there is another wave of C19 coming soon? What if C19 is the first of many such events in the future?
Before we get into analysis and solution design, summarizing the C19 quirks:
While a large section of the affected population is asymptomatic, for some it can be lethal
There isn’t clarity on all the ways C19 spreads
It’s known to affect the lungs, heart, and kidneys in patients with weak immunity
It has been hard to identify a definitive pattern of the virus. Some observations in managing the C19 situation are:
With no vaccine in sight, the end of this epidemic looks months or years away
Health care personnel in hospitals need additional protection to treat patients
Lockdowns lead to severe economic hardship and its repeated application can be damaging
Quarantining people has an economic cost, especially in the weaker sections of society
If one takes a step back to re-think about this, we are primarily solving 2 problems:
Minimise deaths: Minimise the death of C19 and non-C19 patients in this period
Maximise economic growth: The GDP output/growth should equal or higher than pre-C19 levels
One needs to achieve the 2 goals in an environment of rising number of C19 cases.
An approach that can be applied to achieve this is:
Data driven health care capacity planning
Build a health repository of all the citizens with details like pre-existing diseases, comorbidity, health status, etc. The repository needs to be updated quarterly to account for patient data changes
This health repository data is combined with the C19 profile (disease susceptibility) and/or other seasonal diseases to determine the healthcare capacity (medicines, doctors, etc.) needed
The healthcare capacity deficit/excess needs to be analysed in categories (beds, equipment, medicine, personnel, etc.) and regions (city, state, etc.) and actions taken accordingly
Regular capacity management will ensure patients aren’t deprived of timely treatment. In addition, such planning helps in the equitable distribution of healthcare across regions and optimising health care costs. Healthcare sector is better prepared to scale-up/down their operations
Based on the analysis citizens can be informed about their probability of needing hospitalisation on contracting C19. Citizens with a higher health risk on C19 infection should be personally trained on prevention and tips to manage the disease on occurrence
The diagram below explains the process
Mechanism to increase hospital capacity without cost escalation
Due to the nature of C19, health personnel are prone to infection and their safety is a big issue. There is also a shortage of hospitable beds available. Even non-C19 patients aren’t getting the required treatment because health personnel seek it as a risk. This resulted in, healthcare costs going up and availability reducing.
To mitigate such issues, hospital layouts may need to be altered (as shown in the diagram below). The altered layout improves hospital capacity and availability of health care personnel. It also reduces the need for the arduous C19 protection procedures. Such procedures reduce the patient treatment capacity and puts a toll on hospital management.
Over a period, the number of recovered C19 persons are going to increase significantly. We need to start tapping into their services to reduce the burden on the system. The hospitals need to be divided into 3 zones. The hospital zoning illustration shown below explains how this could be done. In the diagram, patients are shown in green and health care personnel are in light red.
**Assumption: Infected and recovered C19 patients are immune to the disease. This is not clearly established
Better enforcement of social factors
The other reason for high number of infections in countries like India is a glaring disregard in following C19 rules in public places and the laxity in enforcement. Enforcement covers 2 parts, tracking incidents of violation and penalising the behaviour. Government should use modern mechanisms like crowd sourcing to track incidents and ride on the growing public fear to ensure penalty enforcement succeeds. The C19 pandemic has exposed governance limitations in not just following C19 rules, but also in other areas of public safety like road travel, sanitation, dietary habits, etc.
Maximise economic growth
The earlier lockdown has strained the economy. Adequate measures need to be taken to get the economy back on track. Some of the areas that need to be addressed are:
One needs to evaluate the development needs of the country in different categories like growth impetus factors (e.g. building roads, electricity capacity increase), social factors (e.g. waste water treatment plants, health care capacity), and environmental factors (e.g. solar energy generation, EV charging stations). Governments need to accelerate funding in such projects so that that large numbers of unemployed people are hired and trained. Besides giving an immediate boost to the ailing economy such projects have a future payback. The governments should not get bogged down by the huge fiscal deficit such measures can create. Such a mechanism to get money out in the economy is far than better measures like QE (Quantitative Easing) or free money transfer into people’s bank accounts
Certain items like smartphone, internet, masks, etc. have become critical (for work, education, critical government announcements). It’s essential to subsidise or reduce taxes so that these items are affordable and accessible to everyone without a financial impact
The government shouldn’t put too many C19 related controls on service offerings (e.g. shops, schools, restaurants, cabs). Putting many controls increases the cost of the service which neither the seller not buyer is willing or able to pay. Where controls are put, the Govt should bear the costs or reduce taxes or figure out a mechanism so that the cost can be absorbed.
An event like the C19 pandemic is a great opportunity to rationalise development imbalances in the country. Government funding should be channelized more to under-developed regions. This drives growth in regions that need it most. It also prevents excess migration that has resulted in uncontrolled and bad urbanisation that has made C19 management hard (guidelines like social distance are impossible to follow)
Post-C19 lockdown, the business environment (need for sanitizers, masks, home furniture) has changed. To make people employable in new flourishing businesses there could be a need to re-skill people. Such an initiative can be taken up by the public/private sector
The number of C19 infected asymptomatic patients is going to keep increasing. Building an economy around them (existing, recovered C19 patients) may not be a far-fetched idea. E.g. jobs for C19 infected daily wage earners, C19 infected taxi drivers to transport C19 patients, etc.
In the last 100 years, mankind has conquered the destructive aspects of many a disease and natural mishap (hurricanes, floods, etc.). Human lives lost in such events has dramatically dropped over the years and our preparedness has never been this good. Nature seems to have caught up with mankind’s big strides in science and technology. C19 has been hard to reign in with no breakthrough yet. The C19 pandemic is here to stay for the near future. The more we accept this reality and change ourselves to live with it amidst us, the faster we can return to a new normal. A quote from Edward Jenner (inventor of Small Pox) seems apt in the situation – “The deviation of man from the state in which he was originally placed by nature seems to have proved to him a prolific source of diseases”.
Article | March 10, 2020
When we imagine the future, we think about "The Jetsons" or "Back to the Future." Although we are not flying our cars or transporting instantly to any location at the push of a button, Artificial Intelligence (AI) permeates our lives. Think about the last time Netflix picked out your last binge marathon, Gmail finished your sentence or Siri created your grocery list. These are all examples of AI. Companies use Al to predict actions customers will take based on their habits. Al is also shaping the healthcare industry. In fact, according to Becker's Healthcare, Al will save healthcare $52 billion by 2021. Al bots track consumer health, enabling doctors to more easily access patients' health information. Apps and chat bots bridge the communication between the patient and the healthcare provider. Patients receive advice from their bedside and save time by using Al. Al takes a patient's health information and creates recommendations that can prevent further illnesses from occurring. A recent article provides insights on Al and data as a "what is next" for the communication industry.
Article | February 24, 2020
Software automation accelerates processes and makes them more cost-effective, accurate, scalable, and measurable. But it also lets organizations coordinate and manage a collection of disparate systems according to business rules. These benefits offer enough value that automation is becoming an indispensable part of the enterprise toolkit. A 2019 Deloitte survey of 523 executives across industries found that 58% of organizations were already using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) combined. The top four objectives of this intelligent automation: increased productivity, cost savings, accuracy, and customer experience. How will this trend affect the healthcare job market? In the healthcare industry, examples include scheduling appointments, physician order entry, checking for allergies, ordering electronic prescriptions, validating a spreadsheet’s entries against data on a website, and manually transferring data from one system to another. Healthcare office workers tend to hate these tasks, which typically require very little decision-making, judgment, or creativity.
Article | July 22, 2020
What is Healthcare Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is a new wave in the world of healthcare marketing strategy. Using advanced technologies that use online marketing platforms such as websites, social media channels, and SEO techniques, to reach potential clients with healthcare products and services encompasses healthcare digital marketing.
Digital marketing in the healthcare sector makes it easier to create, communicate, and deliver health information and make interventions regarding protecting and promoting the health of diverse populations.
Strategies for Healthcare Digital Marketing
There are many trending healthcare digital marketing strategies you can use beneficially in healthcare, but here are the top 10 trending strategies that can help you ensure success:
Create a Wholesome Patient Experience on Your Website
As part of effective healthcare digital marketing for your services, crafting a patient-focused website will help to provide a seamless experience for visitors. While it is important to create a website that you can optimize for search engines, it is also crucial to simplify the process for first-time as well as repeat visitors. Use a conversational tone and features that allow easy navigation so that patients don’t feel like they are being bombarded with medical jargon.
Take a look at Mayo Clinic’s homepage. A patient's needs like online scheduling, specialist lookup, and contact information are easily available, while secondary information for those who would like to explore more before they make an appointment is below. This user-friendly healthcare digital marketing strategy will help you a lot in making visitors return to your website, and when they are looking for products and services.
Employ a Responsive Web Design
With more people leaving the confines of PCs to use the web easily and comfortably, ensuring that your website is responsive to various types of devices is paramount. This applies more to mobile devices because Google has introduced mobile-first indexing in September 2020.
If you want to use healthcare digital marketing campaigns efficiently you have to identify what your organization as a brand can give patients. Even if it is healthcare, where target markets and organizational priorities are almost similar, patients need differentiating factors for each healthcare provider. If you don’t want a patient to be lost in the sea of white coats, figuring out what is special about what you can offer is crucial. Make sure your organizational goals and healthcare digital marketing goals are in sync to avoid unnecessary expenditure. Analyze your competition and let that assist you in shaping the path that your healthcare digital marketing strategy will take. You can often learn a lot from a competitor’s mistakes.
Provide Blog Content That Is Optimized for SEO
Symptom-related searches constitute 1% of all searches, that’s millions, on Google. Use this information to your benefit when planning your editorial calendar for blogs and include it efficiently in your healthcare digital marketing strategy. While you plan around national health observances, you can integrate long-tail keywords, provide links to reputed health sites and articles within your website, and invest in healthcare digital marketing plans. The four to five listings that show at the top of Google’s organic search results page are called the local pack—this part is vital for mobile users because it is all the screen can display before the user scrolls down. If you haven’t already, you should claim your healthcare website on Google My Business and keep it updated. Apart from this, healthcare digital content marketing plans need to be optimized for healthcare-specific SEO keywords.
Supplement Blogs with Video Content
With more algorithms prioritizing video content, you don’t want to be left behind without any good video content. In the healthcare industry, you have the added benefit of adding to your physician’s credibility if you create edutainment videos telling patients about their area of expertise. Healthcare video marketing can help you leverage the physicians in your organization that are authorities in their respective fields of medicine. Long and scary procedures being described by certified physicians is often reassuring for patients. Likewise, patient testimonials can pay this comforting reassurance forward, resulting in building a good reputation for your organization through similar healthcare digital marketing approaches.
Take Advantage of Paid Advertising
After you’ve created all this carefully crafted content that is optimized for SEO, you can’t just let it sit only on your website. Sometimes even if you maintain up-to-date business listings, Google’s local pack is overshadowed by paid ads. You have to promote it on search engines and social media platforms through pay-per-click (PPC), search, targeted, and display ads. Here you need a clear healthcare digital marketing strategy. Call-only campaigns and other ad extensions can be used to promote the services you offer as well.
Leverage Social Media
While organic social media campaigns are great, they can only get you so far. Using it as your only social media strategy can only give you subpar results compared to paid social campaigns. A paid social media plan is more than just clicking on ‘boost’, you have to create a strategy that suits your goals, targets the audience you need, and budgets for a specific ROI. You can create highly personalized campaigns without wasting your budget and reach the patients who are most likely to find your posts useful. It can be quite advantageous if you use healthcare social media marketing to your benefit while being tasteful in what you post. A healthcare care social media platform can be included in your healthcare digital marketing strategy.
Set up an Email Strategy
In healthcare, there are a few types of emails you can take advantage of, like reminders for appointments and annual physicals, seasonal tips for flu season, and announcements about new technology being used in your organization. Letting opportunities like these slip by is lost chances to keep patients engaged with your services and your patients also lose out on information that potentially could have been useful to them. Including a well-planned email marketing strategy as a part of your healthcare digital marketing plan will prevent patients from marking your email as spam and give you good open rates. Setting up free subscription-based newsletters as Johns Hopkins Medicine does allows you to prevent unnecessary unsubscribes as well.
Follow-up with Patient Reviews and Feedback
Word-of-mouth referrals have and always will be a part of marketing and healthcare digital marketing can help you evaluate the quality of the referrals you are getting. Patient success stories often inspire and evoke emotional responses from people, apart from serving as a way to show others the quality of the healthcare services you provide.
Track Your Healthcare Digital Marketing Strategies
After you’ve put all this effort into creating healthcare digital marketing strategies for email, social, and video you have to analyze where your budget is being spent the most, and whether it is reaping you the kind of benefits you are expecting. Understanding and capitalizing on patient micro-moments allows you to position your brand appropriately so that you are right there when they need your services. Measuring and studying your healthcare digital marketing conversion metrics is highly beneficial when it comes to using your resources to serve your needs best.
It doesn’t hurt to track all the mediums you’re using to communicate with patients including calls that are made to your front desk. Analyzing this data can help you understand the blockers that lie in the path between a patient and doctor. A laggy scheduling system, long call-hold times, and patient misinformation are just some of the revelations this analysis can bring to light.
Trends in Healthcare Digital Marketing
Healthcare digital marketing plans were almost non-existent, but they slowly developed to include traditional marketing like print, direct mail, television, and radio. The limitations of these media can now be overcome with healthcare digital marketing.
Doctor reviews, patient discussion forums, and physician certifications and availability are now an online search away for most patients. On-demand healthcare is becoming increasingly popular, and big data is playing a pivotal role in decreasing errors via patient record analyses and creating preventative plans for recurring emergency room patients.
The future even holds possibilities for telesurgeries, telemedicine continues to grow, and virtual patient treatment and other emerging technologies are changing the landscape of healthcare digital marketing. High-risk patients are being aided by heart rate sensors, oximeters, and exercise trackers paving the way for increased investment in medical devices that can be worn. These devices give people a sense of agency when it comes to their health while creating room for gamification and considerable changes in healthcare insurance. Even with all these innovative changes, for healthcare digital marketers, one aspect will remain primary and this is the patient.
Gone are the days when healthcare costs were affordable and patients were not proactive in researching which healthcare provider to choose. The modern patient has to be prudent in selecting the person responsible for improving their health, and it is your responsibility as a marketer to show them why your organization is the best. Stay updated with the latest healthcare digital marketing trends with webinars as the times are changing faster than ever.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is healthcare digital marketing?
Marketing healthcare products and services with the use of advanced digital technologies and techniques are called healthcare digital marketing. These techniques can be Google AdWords campaigns, responsive websites, SEO tactics, mobile apps, unique landing pages, social media campaigns, and email marketing programs, and much more.
Why is digital marketing important in healthcare?
Healthcare providers are facing challenges everywhere, especially in marketing their products and services. So, as technology is evolving, to stay competitive and continue improving the patient experience, the healthcare industry should invest in healthcare digital marketing strategies.
What is a healthcare marketing strategy?
Healthcare marketing strategies support and promote the practices of healthcare providers and telemedicine providers. Healthcare digital marketing strategy includes many channels and forms to target the right patients in the right way at the right time.