The way we relate to our health has changed a lot compared to the past: the network has become a primary source to draw on to check symptoms, track down doctors and specialists, discover the services offered by public and private structures, buy over-the-counter drugs, inform us about diseases and solutions to common ailments.
In other words, the customer journey, or perhaps it would be better to say the patient journey, has changed: if before it was taken for granted that it began in places such as the pharmacy, the General Practitioner’s office, or the specialist’s surgery, today it is increasingly common for the path to diagnosis and recovery to begin in digital environments. This is because a new type of patient is emerging, much more informed and proactive, who begins his journey on the web.
A change that opens up new and interesting perspectives both for the development of new technologies in the medical field and for the way of marketing in the health sector.
Let’s see, numbers in hand, an overview of the sector and the possible implications for the online promotion of medical products and services.
Pharmaceutical Industry: A Driving Force for the Economy
Interesting numbers from the medical devices sector reveal the following: the internal market is worth $ 13.4 billion, of which 66% goes to the national health system, while the remaining 34% to private health. The value of exports amounts to $ 5 billion, with the main markets being the USA, France, and Germany.
While self-diagnosis does not replace a traditional medical consultation, on the other hand, the greater dissemination of information encourages the population to voluntarily undergo diagnostic tests, thus contributing to prevention. In fact, 68.6% of those who searched the internet voluntarily underwent diagnostic tests in the last 5 years. The most sensitive fringe of users is that of women between 35 and 54 years old.
As for the combination of health and technologies, only 7.6% use apps to monitor their health. 14.3% use smartphones, while the percentages for the use of wearables, wearable devices such as smartwatches, smart bracelets, and sensors are much lower.
How Digital Marketing Has Changed The Health Sector
Looking at the phenomenon in a broader perspective, we can confidently affirm that digital transformation is changing the health sector on several levels: a study by Deloitte supports the importance of big data and artificial intelligence will play a role in the development of the sector over the next 20 years, especially as regards the improvement of the prevention and early diagnosis of certain pathologies.
On a less technical level and closer to the daily life of users, digital has represented a small great revolution also in terms of assistance and access to public health services: just think of the computerization of systems such as the advent of the electronic prescription or the possibility of collecting reports online, as well as booking specialist medical examinations, now available online through the special platforms of the local socio-health units.
A decisive step forward was also made in the dissemination of information by agencies and institutional bodies such as the Ministry of Health, which through its portal disseminates news, laws, and other information of public utility for the protection of health. A piece of ‘ closer information to citizens and their needs.
From the point of view of those who produce and sell medical devices or those who offer specialized services such as psychologist and nutritionist offices, digital becomes an additional tool for:
- give added value to the patient/client
- reach a larger number of people
- establish direct contact with patients
- build your brand and increase your reputation
The new models of user behavior and the growing diffusion of the use of digital tools among those working in the sector has given rise to new dynamics in the doctor-patient relationship, where even social networks become vehicles for communication between the parties; while users are looking for information, operators can use these channels to enter online conversations and influence the actors involved in the dynamics of the sector, also contributing to information.
For example, through digital tools, it is possible to integrate the sale of products online and offline with other related services such as training on the purchased product, advice for a healthy lifestyle, and proper nutrition. Or, through special apps, it is possible to automate the sale and management of service renewals.
Healthcare Digital Marketing for the Professionals and E-Commerce
From a healthcare marketing perspective, digital becomes a powerful ally for the online sale of medical products and devices such as medical devices, non-prescription drugs, para pharmaceuticals, and cosmetic products, but also for the personal branding of professionals, who can use the web to build an effective online presence and increase your reputation.
In the case of professionals, a local-oriented digital presence is essential in order to be found by potential patients scattered over the geographical area of interest.
At the base of an effective web presence, we certainly find a responsive website, performing from every device to satisfy user searches, supported by a specific SEO Local activity and an advertising activity on social networks and search engines to intercept in a precise way a specific niche of users, segmented by interests and characteristics.
The growing use of the web by users to find information means that the demand for reliable sources, possibly curated by professionals able to raise awareness and make good information without sensationalism, also increases. The company then becomes a powerful way to communicate with users, educate and become points of reference in their branch of specialization for the community of users.
Doing Digital Marketing for the Healthcare Sector becomes more and more a matter of connecting with people’s needs, using empathy to communicate more effectively, attract more patients, and also increase the quality of the experience.
Intelligent use of digital tools to improve the service offered to the patient and promote their products or services to the active public on the web is the challenge to be taken up by sector operators who want to grow hand in hand with the changing needs of their patients and clients.