Marketing In The Age Of Person-Centric Healthcare

At the recently completed 2015, Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide Marketing Summit, we revealed the findings of a survey we conducted on the state of healthcare marketing in today’s digital, data-driven age. What we found was that healthcare has been slow to adapt to these changing trends. Why? Well, for starters, too many healthcare companies don’t believe that technology has disrupted the industry (14% of respondents, as opposed to 4% of companies in other sectors). In addition, we found that there is significant variation in what healthcare brands believe will drive innovation in the industry. And finally, while brands in healthcare understand that data is affecting marketing, two-thirds of the respondents said they weren’t ready to extract insights from new data sources.

But healthcare brands have to innovate. They have to respond and adjust to disruption brought upon by technological advancements. They must be ready to serve a consumer base that’s living their lives evermore in the digital space.


How can healthcare brands survive and thrive? It won’t be easy, but below are three areas where healthcare brands can make an impact in today’s age of the person-centric healthcare.

Make your content searchable

Today, the patient journey is largely lived online. Whether it’s upon feeling a potential symptom, considering a doctor, researching treatment options after a diagnosis or looking to switch doctors or medications, people turn to Google.

In a world where one in 20 Google searches is healthcare related, healthcare brands need to make sure that not only do they have digital content to serve patients at each point of the journey, but that the content can be found. Certainly, there is value in paid search results. But the opportunity is there for healthcare brands to provide organic content that is relevant, engaging, and digestible. Too often, healthcare content is too scientific or medical, losing the reader before they’ve even clicked. Patient-focused content that provides ideas, action, and important information should be a top priority for today’s healthcare brands.

Engage with patient communities

Outside from search, online communities are springing up around healthcare issues, digital spaces for likeminded people to come together and address common needs. These communities provide indelible support for patients or parents of patients, who share advice and help one another deal with shared problems.

Brands can engage here, but they need to do so carefully and effectively. Pharma companies, for example, can cultivate patient advocates in these online communities, folks who are already sharing their experiences with others. Brands should listen to these advocates, learning not only about their—and the entire community’s—experiences, but what discussions are going on and how the community talks about them. Brands can help educate the community on these issues and how to best manage them, and afterwards, the opportunity is there for amplifying the brand’s message to the community.

Drive with data

Data has transformed the world, so why should healthcare be any different? If anything, the amount of data available—to brands in the healthcare space and otherwise—should completely change the way we think about and approach healthcare.

Medical interface

The transformation might have been slow, but a number of products and services are coming along that are showing how the future of healthcare lies in data. The HealthKit app is poised to be connection between a person and their health record. It collects all sorts of data and passes it on to an electronic health record, so a doctor can see a person’s actual daily health habits—not just what the patient tells them. On the other hand ResearchKit is disrupting clinical trials. by putting them in the virtual space. Eighty percent of trials fail because patients can’t be found, and ResearchKit is looking to significantly lower that number.

We have online profiles for just about everything these days. We don’t really have one for our health. ShareCare is hoping to be the solution. Founded by Jeff Arnold, the founder of Web MD, ShareCare aims to be the Facebook or LinkedIn for our health. The company hopes to integrate patients’ medical records; coupled with hospital and doctor partnerships, ShareCare can be a one-stop online health shop. Healthcare brands must keep an eye out for ShareCare, as it presents an amazing opportunity to present relevant content to patients.

And no mention of healthcare and data would be complete without a mention of Watson, IBM’s cognitive computer that’s graduated from Jeopardy! champ to potential life-saver. It’s now able to read medical text and clinical records and generate a set of hypotheses from the data it gathers. In time, Watson will be an invaluable tool for doctors not just for it’s ability to identify an illness, but how to best treat it, too.

If anything, the healthcare sector should be amongst the industries most leaning on data and digital. While we’re not naïve to pretend that profits and margins aren’t at stake and important, the healthcare sector does also have an intrinsic higher calling. By being on the forefront of innovation, healthcare brands can save lives. And if they do, we’re pretty sure everything else will take care of itself.

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  1. Kedar

    Hi i hve disagreement on the above article . Am a pharma proffesional wth 16 yrs of exp. Agencies like O&M need to understand one basic …..very basic difference between pharma brands and other consumer brands …..i.e pharma brands by law cannot be ‘ marketed ‘ to the consumers ,patients as implied above .

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