Trends in healthcare that marketers need to be aware of

Change ahead isolated signHealthcare is the midst of a radical change maybe the understatement of all time.  Whether healthcare marketers are prepared for and embrace the changes is another story but there are a wealth of opportunities if they are willing to lead instead of waiting to see what happens.  Here are some key trends in healthcare marketing that we all need to be aware of…

(1) The Rise of Retail Clinics - Here in California there are a lot of healthcare facilities called “urgent care”.  The advantage to patients is that you don’t need an appointment to see a doctor and patients seem to be responding.  CVS, Walgreens and Wal*Mart are all deploying retail “healthcare clinics” where patients don’t need an appointment to see a HCP and get an Rx or simple blood tests.  Physicians don’t like this because they believe patients should always come to them but in an era of consumers empowered healthcare retail clinics could fill an important need when patients need to see a HCP right away or get routine blood tests.

(2) Docs recommending mobile apps to patients -Doctors are using mobile health applications to access medication data at the point of care and ensure that the drugs they prescribe won’t hurt patients, according to a study by Epocrates. The survey also found that more than 40% of doctors are recommending mobile apps to patients, often for patient education, healthy lifestyle tools and chronic disease management.  Will patients embrace these apps ?  The jury is still out on that.

It's time for linchpins to rock the boat

It’s time for linchpins to rock the boat

(3) Patients who were more knowledgeable, skilled and confident about managing their day-to-day health and health care had health care costs that were 8 percent lower in the base year and 21 percent lower in the next year compared to patients who lacked this type of confidence and skill. These savings held true even after adjusting for patient differences, such as demographic factors and the severity of illnesses. Even among patients with the same chronic illness, those who were more “activated” had lower overall health care costs than patients who were less so. Among asthma patients, the least activated patients had costs that were 21 percent higher than the most activated patients. With high blood pressure, the cost differential was 14 percent.

(4) 1/2 of online health questions are on behalf of someone else -39% of online health seekers said they looked for information on behalf of someone else. However another 15% of users said they were looking for information for themselves and for someone else. Parents were more likely than non-parents to look for information on behalf of someone else i.e. their children.  Caregivers has specific needs that usually are not being addressed by pharma marketers.  This needs to change and change means focusing on information for both patients and caregivers.

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(5) Specific diseases dominate people’s online questions - 55% of online health seekers said they looked online for information about a specific disease or medical treatment in the last twelve months. The study also found that women were more likely than men to search for specific health information, as were internet users with higher levels of education.

(6) A Gallup Poll of 1,015 adults released Dec. 14, 2012, found that 32% had delayed medical care for themselves or a family member because of cost. This represented a statistically significant increase from the 30% who said this in 2008, when the recession was at its peak, and the 19% who reported the same problem in 2002.

When broken down by insured status, 55% of uninsured patients delayed care because of cost in 2012, as did 30% of those with private insurance. The results paralleled those released by Gallup on Nov. 29, 2012, which found that the proportion of people with commercial health insurance who were satisfied with out-of-pocket costs went down from 68% in 2001 to 57% in 2012.

(7) As Boomers age and see more doctors they are going to push for EHR’s – If you have to go to a specialist than you know that getting HCP’s to share information can be a task.  Boomers are going to push for integrated EHR’s so that physicians can readily share information about their health without the need to fill out “all those forms”.

(8) Social media is part of the quest for online health information – Like it or not almost half of people who search for online health information are using social media according to Manhattan Research.  They want to hear from people like them and if you continue to ignore social media you’re going to miss out on being part of that conversation.

(9) Mom’s are the Chief Medical Officers for the family – Mom’s are more likely to be proactive when searching for online health information and often determine treatment recommendations.  Time to micro-target your content.

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(10) Speed of information is more important than ever for patients – The days of writing content and waiting weeks for legal and regulatory approval to go live on your website are putting you at a competitive disadvantage.  If it’s being reported in the media you need to respond in internet time not on your orgs schedule.

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