As digital gains popularity, marketers are struggling to keep up with all of the newest trends and changes. Healthcare marketers have an added struggle because not only is healthcare marketing changing, the whole healthcare structure in the U.S. has gone through a huge transition in the past few years. All of these changes have greatly impacted their audience, including healthcare consumers, providers, payers, and vendors, forcing many healthcare organizations to begin the shift towards digital marketing.

Barriers to Digital for Healthcare Marketers

Most healthcare advertising still remains heavily engrained in TV and print. The shift towards digital has been a struggle for many healthcare marketers because of heavy regulation, privacy concerns, and, of course, the struggle that all marketers are having – a resistance to change. In fact, healthcare is expected to represent only 2.8% of total digital ad spend this year. It’s predicted that more healthcare ad spend will go towards driving direct response (56%) versus branding (44%).

Stats to Back the Shift Towards Digital

The simple answer is that’s where the audience is. More and more, consumers are looking for easy answers and processes, and they are going on their desktops and mobile devices for healthcare information. People in general and healthcare consumers especially are looking for a seamless approach. Digital is integrated into everyone’s lives, and people expect their healthcare organizations to keep up. The challenge for healthcare organizations will be to find out what matters most to patients and what the best channels are to reach those patients. The shift to digital can help healthcare organizations learn a great deal about their patients to help offer them a positive experience across all interaction points, which will not only help these organizations retain their current patients but also reach new customers.

There is no question that using data and digital strategies to improve patient experiences will benefit an organization. Digital methods to engage patients through portals and apps often leads to loyalty from patients that they may not have felt otherwise.

Consumer-driven healthcare is gaining momentum, and that momentum is happening on digital:

Why and How Healthcare Organizations Should Shift Towards Digital

Organizations that promote themselves digitally will benefit from the increasing consumer involvement in healthcare. Providers are at an advantage because healthcare is very likely one of the most important topics in people’s lives, and digital can bring information about their health right to their fingertips. People don’t just have an interest in their health, they want control over it. One in three American adults have gone online to figure out a medical condition, and 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information in the past year. On top of that, consumers are taking health into their own hands with health tracking and fitness apps like Fitbit, which has grown 1,524% in the last two years.

The organizations that will succeed are the ones that can relate to their audience the most. Consumers that feel valued will become emotional engaged and will not only stay loyal to an organization but are 3x more likely to recommend their product or service. The more people are engaged, the better it is for an organization. In fact, companies that aim for a connection beat their competition by 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth.

The fact of the matter is, the healthcare marketing shift towards digital is inevitable. As consumers spend more time online and on mobile, demand for digital access will increase and providers need to be there or lose out to the competition.