The Pulse of Health & Wellness Marketing

4 Major Healthcare Marketing Trends At The Ad Club’s Vital Signs 2018

Aetna, Shire, Cleveland Clinic, BCBSMA, and others took the stage at Vital Signs 2018 to share their insights on the latest in health & wellness marketing.

On Thursday, February 8, 2018, health and wellness marketing professionals gathered at the Google Cambridge Campus for the Vital Signs 2018 conference, presented by Boston-based, The Ad Club.

Speakers from Aetna, Shire, Blue Cross Blue Shield MA, Cleveland Clinic, and others, took the stage to dish their insights on the latest in marketing trends in the health and wellness space. 

The Ad Club Vital Sign 2018

We distilled the speakers’ messages into 4 key healthcare marketing takeaways.

1. Frictionless Patient Experiences

Increasingly, healthcare marketing professionals are looking toward the consumer retail and e-commerce spaces to understand frictionless customer experiences. The goal is to translate those trends into the health and wellness space, reducing friction in the patient journey. 

For instance, how does Amazon deliver information, change adherence and create trust? How is Amazon Go taking friction out of the physical shopping experience? These are the questions panelists like STAT Senior Writer, Bob Tedeschi and CMO, SVP of Product & Marketing at BCBSMA, Kathy Klingler are asking — especially as Amazon itself targets healthcare.

The panel discusses seamlessness in the health space

The first step in reducing friction in the patient journey is to understand where it begins. Cleveland Clinic Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Paul Matsen, notes, 

80% of all healthcare journeys start with search, and the landscape of search is changing.

Patients who have traditionally begun their journey by typing a question into Google, or WebMD, are now asking AI-powered voice-enabled devices in their homes. This is where the telemedicine revolution meets the rise of personal search, thanks to Alexa and Siri. 

It’s crucial that healthcare marketers understand these new behaviors and design for these mediums in order to deliver timely and relevant information through the right channel at the right time. 

Who’s doing it right currently?

Of course, Amazon Echo or Google Home are blazing the path for consumer health with their voice assistants, and their applications range from in-home senior care assistance to post-surgery instructions and medication adherence reminders. Titans of healthcare tech are taking note, as companies like Orbita and Merck enter this space.

Additionally, Mitch Rothschild, Founder & Chairman of Vitals, spoke about their SmartShopper program and what they’re doing to eliminate headaches, specifically related to time and money, that a patient would normally encounter. 

Vitals SmartShopper provides a phone bank of personal assistants who will explain choices and out of pocket costs for users, encourage users (by paying them) to make lower cost choices on services within the provider network, schedule appointments, or even set up an Uber or Lyft. 

Speaking of Uber, they just launched Uber Health—a B2B ride-hailing platform for healthcare. Uber Health will let clinics, hospitals, rehab centers and more easily assign rides for their patients and clients from a centralized dashboard – without requiring that the rider even have the Uber app or a smartphone. 

Talk about frictionless. 

2. Lead With Authenticity

Consumers are craving no-nonsense approaches, especially when it comes to their health needs. Every speaker at Vital Signs seemed to touch on the importance of transparency in marketing and authenticity in messaging. 

Vic Noble, Global Head of Brand Value, Shire

Global Head of Brand Value at Shire, Vic Noble, pointed out a major shift in how brands, providers, and patients are communicating. 

Historically, in Pharma, marketing messaging for doctors and patients has been dramatically different, but Vic notes that we’re starting to see campaigns across the board speaking the same language, and using the same terms. 

Why is this important? More so than ever, the patient is in the driver seat. As medical futurist Robin Farmanfarmaian puts it, empowered by technology, the patient is CEO of their own health.” 

Patients are now co-creators of their healthcare outcomes. They want to have peer-to-peer conversations with their care-givers, they want clear-cut information, and they want attention every step of the way. At the end of the day, the acceleration of humanized healthcare comes down to building trust. And whether in a physician-to-patient or a marketer-to-consumer relationship, trust stems from authenticity. 

Navigating healthcare information throughout the medical system is a source of major anxiety for a large majority of people, and if you can trust the messages presented to you, the patient journey becomes a whole lot easier to handle. 

3. It’s Time To Be Proactive

Stan Nowak, VP of Consumer Engagement at Aetna opened his talk on improving the patient journey by commenting on the sick care” system. 

We should be investing in your health, with you, instead of paying for your sickness after you are diagnosed.”
Stan Nowak, VP Consumer Engagement, Aetna with The Ad Club’s Kathy Kiely

Again, speaking to the importance of building trust in the patient-provider relationship, Stan argued that the best way to earn trust is to prevent a person from becoming a patient — taking a proactive rather than reactive approach. 

What’s the difference between proactive and reactive healthcare? 

Reactive healthcare is the norm. It’s when you take action and seek medical attention after noticing symptoms. A proactive approach to healthcare means taking consistent action before symptoms arise to prevent injury or disease. For companies shifting their focus to proactive healthcare, that means an output of education. 

As we work toward effectively using the capital being invested in the new healthcare and digital health landscape, we’ll see patients becoming true consumers, with increased access and transparency on behalf of providers. The transition from sick care to well care and the empowerment of the healthcare patient-consumer is upon us.“

With more healthcare leaders prioritizing the prevention, not the treatment of disease, we can begin to move away from the sick care system. Healthcare marketing will start focusing on proactive health and wellness approaches, and people will be empowered to take back their health.

4. Look To Data To Drive Outcomes

Larry Mickelberg, Managing Director, Deloitte Digital, asks, are we ready for the future of healthcare?” 

Larry Mickelberg, Manager Director, Deloitte Digital

Larry argues that the future of health and wellness marketing must be customer-centric over product-centric, value-based over sales-based, and driven by data not hunches.” 

Data-driven outcomes are not a new focus in our field. We started seeing this term pop up in the late 90’s as EHR adoption began gaining steam. But today, healthcare data is not only more powerful, but more accessible than ever. 

We’re receiving real-time healthcare diagnostics from our wearables. For example, your Apple Watch can flag diabetes predictors with up to 80% accuracy. So as marketers, how we can utilize today’s powerful health data to better serve healthcare consumers?

We can design communication systems to close the gaps in the customer-care giver conversation and use real-time data analysis to provide customized care for every patient. 

The Dexcom G5 Mobile CGM System is doing this right now, tracking and sharing real-time glucose data with loved ones and diabetes caregivers. What can we build next? 

Want to see what we saw?

Keep your finger on the pulse of healthcare marketing and dive into all the speaker presentation videos from The Ad Club’s Vital Signs 2018 conference now, right here.

Cramer’s Julie Walker and Elana Snyder entering Vital Signs 2018
Aileen Wong and Julie Walker, Cramer — Vital Signs networking

Speakers included:

The health and wellness industry is transforming. Have questions about the new experiential era of global healthcare marketing? Let’s chat.

Written by

Elana Snyder

Account Manager / Cramer

Jonathan Ronzio

Experience Chaser, Writer, Speaker

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