Healthcare marketing: Capitalize on power of mutual attraction

Guest post by Andrea J. Simon, Ph.D., a former marketing, branding and culture change senior vice president at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan. She also is president and CEO of Simon Associates Management Consultants.

Undeniably, there's a tectonic shift occurring in healthcare marketing today. With large deductibles and the public's growing mistrust of physicians' approach to care, consumers shop and select care options in ways that were unheard of just a few years ago.

Like it or not, the time is now for healthcare institutions to realize that the old outbound way of pushing messages out to consumers is as outdated as the eight-track tape. As Bob Dylan famously sang: "The times they are a-changin'."

The changing healthcare landscape and what it means

To get at the heart of what is going on, this blog is the first of a three-series discussion which will examine:

  • What are the changes taking place in consumer behavior?
  • How are these changes becoming evident in consumers' selection behaviors?
  • What can healthcare providers (hospitals, clinics, physicians) do to capture consumers and delight them long after they have left their premises?

Consumer behavior has changed from passive listening to active searching

The research on how consumers are searching for and evaluating their healthcare options is rather compelling:

  • Of the 81 percent of American adults who access the Internet, nearly three quarters (72 percent) of those users looked online for health information within the past year, according to recent data collected by the Pew Research Center.
  • Survey results from PwC show that a third of all U.S. consumers now trust not only the Internet, but specifically social media, to obtain healthcare information, discuss symptoms and care, and share feedback about their physicians.
  • More than 40 percent of these said that online search results influenced their healthcare decisions, including which doctor to select.

Without a doubt, there's a fundamental change as to where we go to find information about a physician or a hospital--evolving from a physician or family member's referral to the Internet.