As we continue to emerge from a global pandemic, healthcare marketers are still feeling its impact and will continue to see it shape their marketing efforts.
By Katie Bridges
For healthcare marketers, the pandemic has been an ever-present force over the past two years. And while it appears that the worst is behind us, the pandemic’s ripple effect will continue to influence healthcare marketing trends in 2022 and beyond.
1. A Renewed Focus on Preventive Care and Screenings
For months and months, people were told to stay inside. And many did — perhaps to the long-term detriment of their personal health. Mammography rates, for example, plummeted during the pandemic, and nearly half of Americans delayed primary care appointments and preventive screenings. As a healthcare marketer, you know all too well the value of preventive care, which is why encouraging patients to re-engage with their primary care providers and schedule those missed screenings will be a vitally important part of your healthcare marketing strategy this year.
2. Widespread Adoption of Telehealth
While there may have been some hesitation to engage in telehealth pre-pandemic, patients and doctors alike are now on board. According to a McKinsey report, 58% of physicians view telehealth more favorably now than they did pre-pandemic, and at least 40% of patients plan to continue using telehealth services. With telehealth continuing post-pandemic, communicators should be thinking about how to evolve its messaging from a necessary method of care to a convenient, everyday option. That includes ensuring you have the content and digital assets needed to communicate its benefits (outside of a global pandemic) to patients.
3. Expanded Wellness Offerings
One of the biggest shifts in healthcare over the last few years has been a focus on wellness. Instead of: How do we best treat sick patients? It’s become: How do we keep people healthy? That evolution is even more relevant today as the realities of the pandemic set in (weight gain, sleep disturbances and increased stress have been all-too-common side effects). As healthcare systems continue to expand their wellness retail services, it’ll be up to healthcare marketers to get the message out, taking cues from B2C marketing practices.
4. The Rise of Mental Health Services
Mental health awareness campaigns have been expanding their reach in recent years, but the collective trauma of the pandemic will further increase the demand. Throughout the pandemic, we saw a major disruption to mental health services worldwide and a significant increase in stress. So it makes sense that there will be a renewed focus on mental health awareness campaigns and marketing communications directing patients to those services.
5. Personalization Through Content
Traditional B2C brands have been investing in personalized marketing for years, and today’s consumers indeed expect it. Healthcare marketers should be following suit. But personalization is more than simply adding a person’s name to an email. It’s about delivering a truly personalized content experience — and that begins with understanding your audience and delivering the right content at the right time. That could mean building content-driven email automation journeys or fueling your PPC campaigns with high quality content that provides answers to the questions users are searching for.
6. More Inclusive Marketing
This goes beyond ensuring the photos on your website are diverse. Much like personalization, this is about understanding your audiences — all of your audiences — and ensuring you’re speaking to their needs and concerns. Health needs and attitudes toward healthcare providers may vary by audience, and it’s important to understand that as you craft content. It’s also important that your audiences can access your content, which is why accessibility will continue to be an important consideration in 2022 and beyond.
7. Physician-Focused Content
Physicians are a unique audience — highly educated, extremely busy and specialized. They’re also inundated with content, whether it’s from their employers, from the journals they read or from colleagues and associations. Healthcare marketers that break through the clutter will do so by providing highly relevant, timely content they can trust, as Vanderbilt University Medical Center has done. The articles in their content hub fuel emails and PPC campaigns. Plus, their content helps increase visibility of their physicians within their community and aids in their reputation management strategy.