The US healthcare industry is in a phase of radical transformation. Technology is making its leap forward at a tremendous pace and patients are increasingly becoming tech-savvy. As more people are taking their health into their own hands, healthcare providers will have to stay abreast of the market trends to thrive and survive in the competition.
According to PwC’s Health Research Institute’s annual report that highlights the forces expected to have the most impact on industry in 2016, “New experiences will begin to make real the dream of care anywhere, anytime, changing consumer expectations and fuelling innovation. In 2016, millions of American consumers will have their first video consults, be prescribed their first health apps and use their smartphones as diagnostic tools for the first time.”
As is evident from the conclusion of the research-based report, in 2016, the new-era digitally empowered patients will seek “anywhere and anytime” diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of their health conditions. No matter where you go, digital dominates. The mobile market is growing at an incredible rate. Mobile health apps, activity trackers, algorithm-based symptom checkers and so on — these are the new entrants in the field of healthcare.
The concept of connected health
Often referred to as technology-enabled care, connected health involves the convergence of health technology, digital media and mobile devices. It includes telemedicine, mobile health/mHealth and eHealth services — all of these enable patients as well as providers to have easy access to data, records and information.
Healthcare providers need to use digital tools extensively to connect with patients for providing value-based care. Providers need to be connected with patients where they are, i.e. on the Internet and mobiles. Healthcare users now expect tailored content to satisfy their thirst for knowledge. While social media channels also offer opportunities to track the online audience, mobile channels open up other extensive features such as push notifications, SMS, geo-location and preference settings. Along with all these features comes the most convenient side — the ease of using mobile applications and Internet services whenever, wherever and however users wish to.
Mobile health is the future of healthcare
Stat check: According to ABI Research, the market for mobile health apps is expected to quadruple to $400 million as global sales of smartphones are expected to hit 1.5 billion units by the end of 2016. Smartphones can also help tap a large segment of population of the age group of 18 to 35 who use these devices more than any other. Also, today’s popular smartphones (iPhone and Android) offer unique, innovative capabilities that aren’t available on PCs.
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To swim through the waters of intense competition, healthcare providers can no longer consider mobile marketing optional. About half of all Americans have smartphones. Eighty percent of the time, the average American is in range of 4G LTE, making it nearly as easy to conduct a video visit with a doctor as it is to call a cab.
Healthcare consumers are taking their health in their own hands. Providers have to think like strategic marketers to develop creative marketing strategies targeting mobile consumers. Transparency should be kept as the topmost goal, and messages should be scientifically accurate, clear and focused on providing solutions.
Health consumers desire best-quality content
In this digital era, the digital patient experience now counts prior to the actual patient experience. The principles of great content marketing are the principles of the great customer experience. It’s the need of the hour for physicians to leverage digital communication to increase brand awareness by creating patient-centric content. Good-quality, reliable, accurate content can help you engage a large number of patients, which can get you more appointments, and it may even help improve patient retention.
Social presence is a must for attracting new patients
Physician reputation on various social media platforms has taken center stage, and managing a positive digital reputation has become more important than ever. By being proactive about online reputation management and responding effectively to online customer reviews, physicians can turn the tables around in their favor.
Given the rapid changes in the communication landscape brought about by participative Internet use and social media, it is of utmost importance for healthcare professionals and hospitals to develop a better understanding of these technologies and their impact on health communication. Healthcare consumers are already empowered, and now providers have to wear the hat of good marketers and make the best use of technology to provide easily accessible information to their audience when, where and how they want it.