Healthcare marketing is a critical function in the health sector. It refers to the steps taken by medical institutions to build, communicate, and deliver their services to the public (Combs, Sokolowski, & Banks, 2015). Before the 80s, marketing in the industry was frowned upon, and the wellbeing of a person was perceived to be an intimate relationship between a doctor and patient. However, this mindset has changed; the public is more receptive to information provided by hospitals and medical practitioners. To understand this revolution, it is imperative to identify the position that advertising occupies in modern healthcare facilities, changes that have occurred in the last five to ten years, current trends, and ability to overcome challenges.
Primarily, healthcare marketing is now considered as part of the corporate operations in several ways. Firstly, numerous hospitals have established marketing departments, which run their promotional activities. Although various organizations may adopt distinct titles to these units, they perform the same types of functions. Their roles include creating brand awareness of the institution, communicating with relevant stakeholders, collaborating with other areas to facilitate growth, and delivering value to facilities.
Noteworthy, marketing is included in the strategic planning process of hospitals. Due to the tremendous competition in the industry, health care providers have been forced to think about their promotional strategies carefully. This objective has been attained by following several steps including environmental analysis, determination of long-term and short-term aims, strategy formulation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of results (Austin, Bentkover, & Chait, 2016). As a result, medical facilities have employed competitive and efficient advertisements to appeal to the target markets.
However, it is important to note that healthcare marketing occupies a central position in the healthcare industry, and its progressiveness has been shaped by changes that have occurred in the last five to ten years. Patients rely on information provided by this corporate function to make critical decisions. Data provided can be divided into the 4 Ps of marketing that stands for the place, promotion, product, and price. For instance, consumers can use a hospital advertisement to identify the services offered, corresponding prices, and the location of the facility. Access to healthcare marketing from different organizations helps individuals to make the best choices through the evaluation of alternatives.
There have been several changes to healthcare marketing over the last decade. Chiefly, technological development has increased the number of channels for delivering information about a health facility. For instance, adverts can be run on televisions, radios, social media platforms, and other electronic media. The rise of social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn has, by far, been the largest change in the period under consideration. They host millions of people across the globe, and hence a marketing message can be transmitted to the whole world within seconds. Moreover, marketers can gather and integrate consumers’ opinions and experiences in their adverts, delivering better value propositions.
Another difference has been the incorporation of marketing firms to run healthcare marketing in some organizations. Due to the high costs of having a full-staffed marketing department in a hospital, some enterprises have contracted other companies to perform this task (Holtz, 2016). They carefully select the organizations based on experience and past performance in the industry, who strive to advertise the facilities to the health stakeholders. Other healthcare facilities also deploy the services of public relations firms to enhance their brand image in the typically competitive market. As a result, the hospitals enjoy better marketing at lower costs.
Medical care providers are expected to provide authentic information in healthcare marketing. It is not enough to make claims regarding the quality of services without supporting evidence. As a result, these institutions now incorporate knowledge sharing, where individuals that have enjoyed the services narrate their story to the public. This inspires the trust of the potential clients and increases the number of returning clients.
The current trends in the industry will also have a significant impact on the future of healthcare marketing. Firstly, there has been a change in consumer expectations on the hospitals. Previously, patients took little interest in making decisions about their physical well-being. Instead, most of them left these critical choices to their physicians. This trend has changed over time; the public now has access to education about their wellness, health, and prevention techniques for diseases. In fact, individuals are more involved in pursuing healthy lifestyles and limiting infections; hence decrease their overall medical costs. Their increased involvement has given them more bargaining power; hence, health providers have being forced to find new techniques to attract clients.
There has also been a general increment in the cost of health services in the economy. According to statistic, a huge percentage of the country’s revenue has been allocated to the health sector. Although the government provides health insurance for the people through Medicare and Medicaid insurance plans, only a small segment of the population enjoys this service. On the other hand, individuals not cover by the employer’s insurance are forced to pay for their expenditure. As a result, these groups of persons are keen on getting value for their money. They carefully evaluate the services and quality of each provider before making a selection. Therefore, hospitals will have to resolve to market to communicate their value proposition to the people.
Moreover, healthcare marketing has played an instrumental role in addressing the challenging aspects of contemporary health care. It assists in meeting the high demand of medical data among the public. Previously, people had little or no information on health related matters such as diseases and the treatment options available. Some suffered in silence for fear of stigmatization or lack of understanding about their conditions. However, healthcare marketing has adequately addressed this issue.
Conclusively, it is evident that healthcare marketing is a crucial proponent in the future of the health industry. Currently, medical facilities have established marketing departments that develop advertisement content and deliver the same to the public. However, the integration of technology and calls for authenticity will continue to change the processes observed in the implementation of this function. The changing trends in the industry such as consumer involvement and cost management will also shape healthcare marketing in the coming years. All in all, it will continue to offer solutions for the diverse challenges reported in the health sector today.
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- Austin, J., Bentkover, J., & Chait, L. (2016). Leading strategic change in an era of healthcare transformation. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
- Combs, C. D., Sokolowski, J. A., & Banks, C. M. (2015). The Digital Patient : Advancing Healthcare, Research, and Education (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.
- Holtz, C. (2016). Global healthcare : issues and policies. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Learning.