In the past, medical etiquette has always discouraged advertising.
Some worried that marketing would be insensitive to the nuances and complexities of health service delivery. Effective communication is essential for a good doctor-patient relationship, particularly when discussing cancer, obesity, sexual dysfunction, and other delicate subjects. Poor communication may raise doubts, false hopes, and unrealistic expectations for treatment outcomes.
Marketing focuses on attracting consumers to product and service providers. At one time or another, nearly everyone becomes a patient in need of medical products and services. Throughout history, patients have always tried to learn about their conditions by talking to friends and family, dealing with the problem at home when possible, and then seeking the help of a doctor.
Effective medical marketing helps consumers learn about their health with modern tools. The internet is the most modern way to gain access to health-related information. In the most recent health survey by Pew Research Center in 2013, 35 percent of adults in the United States say they have gone online at some point to figure what medical condition they or someone else might be experiencing.
The information consumers read on the internet often leads them to consult with a physician. In fact, 46 percent of Pew survey respondents said the information they found online lead them to believe that they needed the help of a medical professional.
My job as a medical writing guru is to provide consumers with accurate health information and to help them connect with the medical professional best suited to help.
Healthcare Marketing Insights
Practitioners and institutions need content marketing to deliver their message to an eager audience of consumers.
Doctors and other medical professionals may not fully appreciate the nuances of HIPAA compliance and other regulations enforced by government agencies, so they need content marketers that do.
There is a fine line between acceptable medical marketing practices and non-acceptable ones. While a large proportion of people use the internet to diagnose and treat an illness, professional medical marketers know that HIPAA forbids them from publishing content with the intent to diagnose or treat an illness. Medical marketers know how to walk that fine line – and we know how to do it well.
Marketers are master mind readers – they create content that answers questions consumers are likely to ask.
Marketing helps patients get to know their practitioners before they ever step foot in an office. The focus of the marketing content should therefore help patients understand the type of care they can expect to receive from a doctor or organization.
What’s new in medical content marketing?
Healthcare is on track to become the largest industry in the nation, and spending for medical marketing will likely spike as the result. Ad spending for the industry hit a record $9 billion in 2015, up an astounding 11 percent from the previous year.
While spending for television ads still outpaces internet searches, a growing number of consumers are looking online for answers. Pharmaceutical companies spend the most, with Pfizer forking over more than $1 billion for marketing. St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and Cancer Treatment Centers of America each spent more than $1 million that year.
Exciting content that motivates consumers
New medical content marketers are ditching the self-imposed, stuffy writing style that once characterized scientific writing. Believe it or not, the scientific community has vigorously defended the use of a boring, passive voice so that their work would seem more scholarly, objective and sophisticated. In other words, they used lackluster words that would gain the respect of the public.
Today’s medical marketers use words that appeal to the public and motivate them to take action. Instead of saying that “successful pruritus cessation will be achieved after the topical ointment is applied,” the modern marketer says, “use this cream to stop that itch.”
The use of succinct, energetic content creates consumer enthusiasm and promotes confidence in healthcare products and services.
Once upon a time, medical marketers focused solely on selling products to prescribers because doctors buy, prescribe, and recommend products and services to patients. However, the healthcare industry is undergoing an era of mergers and acquisitions, with clinicians moving away from owning private practices towards employment by a hospital or other large institution.
With this move, prescribers often lose autonomy over the medications they can prescribe and, instead, have to stick to the hospital formulary. This means many medical marketers must focus on providing content to the C-suite, rather than to the physician.
The modern medical marketer also creates content for the patients and payers, who have tremendous influence on the medicines and treatments doctors prescribe.
What’s New with Healthcare?
Opioid overdoses – Content marketing helps recovery centers reach people who need help.
Prescription drugs – Americans use 75% of all prescription drugs on earth; content marketing helps pharmaceutical manufacturers inform clinicians and patients about these medications.
Vaccinations and anti-vax – The anti-vax movement has spurred a conversation about the importance of vaccinations.
Cancer – Many cancer care centers use content marketing to provide information, which attracts cancer patients.
Medical marijuana – Despite its federal status as an illegal drug, medical marijuana is one of the hottest topics in healthcare marketing today.
3D printing – Medical engineers can now print and implant cranial plates, hip joints, and more. 3D printing can also create prostheses and instrumentation, such as guides that ensure proper surgical placement of a device.
CRISPR gene splicing – The gene editing tool that allows scientists to snip, splice, and dice genes to edit DNA with remarkable precision.
Sources for Healthcare Content Marketing News
Some medical marketers are employees of hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and other organizations that supply research results and other material for content marketing. Freelance medical marketers rely on information gathered from industry sites and trade publications.
As a medical marketing guru, my personal favorites are:
Healthcare marketing is a natural fit for many hospitals, clinicians and pharmaceutical companies. This type of marketing allows clinicians and scientists to speak to interested customers and provide patients with useful and engaging information. Medical marketing is a powerful tool for patient engagement and retention, branding, and professional reputation building.
Do you want to reach out to patients in a new way? Hire healthcare writers to build your medical brand.
About the author
Lynn H has been a professional writer, providing exceptional content online and offline, for nearly 20 years. In that time, she has penned thousands of articles for doctors, universities, researchers, small businesses, nursing organizations, sole proprietors and more. Lynn writes everything from blogs to white papers; her specialty is putting complex scientific concepts in simple terms.