The influence of technology and changing consumer behaviors will continue to shape the landscape of healthcare marketing in 2012. The rise of digital and social media channels gives marketers many new ways to engage consumers while the still evolving regulatory environment has left many weary of change. We believe 2012 will be a year of innovation and opportunity and we outlined the top trends you can expect to see in healthcare marketing for 2012:
Do-it-yourself Health: The continued rise in consumer directed healthcare consumption leverages new technologies and applications that help them track, manage, and be alerted to any changes in their personal health.
Even though Google Health called it quits (it previously offered medical record and health tracking functionality that connected patients to physicians), Patientslikeme.com has seen meteoric success. The site arms patients with crowd-sourced health and disease information that may help self-diagnosis and motivate patients to get care when it is required. Look to more technological progress that allows patients to customize and track innovations and developments for their healthcare.
Pill Plus: Pharmaceutical brands must deliver not only safe and effective products, but also digital content and applications that fully support the use of the products.
Previously, Pharma companies educated patients on the benefits and risks of their products. It has been a growing trend to provide patients with the information AND tools to keep patients engaged with tracking their disease and improving compliance. Innovative adherence programs are being developed based on patients in-putting their treatment progress in order to obtain tangible rewards. Other Pharma-provided offerings include customizable physician discussion guides, “edutainment” modules and mobile applications.
Connected Devices: Tablets like the iPad may be the device that reignites conversations with healthcare providers (HCPs) and sales representatives. Manhattan Research has shown that there is increasing interest and receptivity to iPads during sales visits. Many Pharma companies have already mandated their use and HCPs have high expectations that the conversation could have new value and new utility. It’s not just the device; it’s the access to critical information that the device enables. Effective user experience and development of these tools requires partner agencies that have the technological expertise to help these tools reach their full potential for performance, engagement and learning.
Physician Relationship Marketing (PRM): Look to see more professional and targeted RM to drive engagement with HCPs. While companies increasingly leverage PRM as an efficient way to supplement salesforce interactions, the key to penetration is offering value to the HCP. For branded information, this is a significant challenge that requires deep insights translated into effective strategies.
Multiple companies now offer eDetailing and RM to remotely engage physicians with brands and maintain a dialogue. One example is the newsletter-like informational email embedded with branded messaging to place products in the clinical context and keep brands top of mind.
Social Media: Pharma will need to become more innovative in how they engage their customers in conversation. With the proliferation of digital content, Pharma can’t afford to not help shape conversations. Even though we’re approaching two years beyond their initial commitment, look for the FDA to finally provide industry guidance on use of social media this year. We expect it will be anticlimactic in that it will be limited, relatively backward-looking and continue to be tethered to regulations designed for a print-based world. Nevertheless, it should unleash a wave of engagement that, while not particularly innovative, will finally embrace some of the potential of social media for healthcare that has been conspicuously absent to date.
Feel free to learn more about our Healthcare Practice or contact me for additional information. I look forward to hearing your questions and what other trends you think will affect healthcare marketing in 2012 and beyond.