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Marketing to the Digitally Empowered Patient for Life Sciences Companies

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February 25, 2018

THE RISE OF THE DIGITALLY EMPOWERED PATIENT

It isn’t a secret that hospitals and physicians expect medical technologies to come with a marketing strategy to educate and drive patients to them.

However, it’s not enough to just have an innovative technology that patients are aware of. Everyone does (or at least claims to).

Healthcare decisions involve more consideration than other types of purchases. Once the problem is identified, patients find and consider a variety of solutions. It’s a process of collecting information that leads to some type of action. When making decisions, patients move through the decision process in phases:

One of the primary goals of marketing is to reach patients at the right moments that influence their decisions during this process or funnel. However, marketing to patients has become more complex and difficult.

Today, physicians and hospitals are looking to medical device and biopharma manufacturers for a way to get prospective patients educated and into their offices or facilities.

But how do you move patients from awareness to consideration? What kind of content makes a patient convert to booking an appointment? Fortunately, there’s a map for that.

Data giant Google partnered with a third-party to conduct a study to understand what influences hospital choice and what role digital plays in the patient journey—from education to action.

The patient digital journey can be broken down into three phases where each of the three key areas guide patients through each stage:

    1. Awareness Driven by Search
    2. Consideration Empowered by Mobile & Tablet Devices
    3. Decisions Influenced by Online Video

AWARENESS DRIVEN BY SEARCH

During the first phase, the patient is experiencing and expressing symptoms of a problem that has now been raised to the level of awareness.

Patients focus on searching specific pathologies and want to understand their “why.” Most search paths start with a non-branded term such as the pathology they have, and symptoms associated with it (early search stage).

As the patient exits the “awareness” stage and enters “consideration,” the patient now has clearly defined and given a name to the problem and the symptoms that go with it.

CONSIDERATION EMPOWERED BY MOBILE & TABLET DEVICES

The consideration stage is focused on problem solving, which involves considering specific solutions available.

Today, mobile and tablet devices serve as a constant companion to patients and empowers them through the consideration stage. Throughout the day, mobile is used to quickly check, learn, and find information and solutions. Patients are discovering brands they were unaware of, comparing facilities and physicians, reading reviews, and locating facilities for treatments.

Over half of the patients finish their search with a branded term (e.g. hospital, doctor, technology or medical procedure). Part of the consideration phase also involves coupling a medical technology (e.g. surgical robotics, imaging, new procedure), with a trusted advisor (e.g. surgeon/hospital).

As they continue to interact with various pieces of content, retargeting through social media allows companies to serve relevant, education-rich content to better inform patients as they consider different solutions to their problem.

Dissecting the data further, we see that more mobile device researchers are three times more likely to watch videos and 10% more likely to schedule an appointment compared to their desktop counterparts.

As patients move from the consideration stage and into the decision stage, video can serve as the final piece to move a patient to take action and schedule an appointment.

DECISIONS INFLUENCED BY ONLINE VIDEO

Online video is a powerful tool to help support the patient’s decision to convert to an appointment.

Testimonial videos from physicians and other patients about their journey to wellness resonates with prospective patients.

When making a decision, helping patients find video content that resonates with them is what ultimately fuels online conversions. Online video is far more engaging than a text article, with a report showing that adults are more likely to share (39%), comment (36%) and ‘like’ (56%) online video over a basic text blog.

Dr. Katherine Milkman and Dr. Jonah Berger conducted a study that identified five major drivers for sharing:

    1. To bring valuable and entertaining content to others. Forty-nine percent of respondents say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
    2. To define ourselves to others. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they share to give others a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
    3. To grow and nurture our relationships. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they share information online because it enables them to stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with.
    4. To feel better about ourselves. Sixty-nine percent said they share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world.
    5. To get the word out about causes we care about. Eighty-four percent of respondents share because it is a good way to support causes or issues they care about.

The potential for this kind of viral spreading of information is why using social media to disperse content is a valuable platform for the healthcare industry. However, without a proper roadmap and guideposts to setup, patients are left to following various digital paths that often are full of misinformation.

Understanding how awareness leads to conversion can help companies better position their content along the patient’s digital journey.

Mapping your strategy along the patient’s digital journey isn’t enough to get patients to convert to choosing your medical technology as their solution. However, it is a vital roadmap that helps your customers get patients down the digital path and into their offices. Medical device and biopharma companies have to learn to be media companies that specialize in teaching customers how to market their products. To do that, answering these three questions can help you get started:

    1. Have you covered all search paths that YOUR patients use?
    2. Do you utilize mobile marketing and have a mobile strategy?
    3. How are you leveraging your video assets?

By setting up the right content and tools to guide patients along your product's digital journey, you can make your customers happy with patients choosing them as the trusted provider and seeking your technology as a solution for their medically-related problem.

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