Developing a Patient-Centered Healthcare Marketing Strategy

A nurse using a stethoscope to listen to the heartbeat of her older male patient.

Why and How to Prioritize Patients in Your Healthcare Marketing

In modern healthcare marketing, focusing on patients is vital. Rather than pushing products or trying to sell medical services directly, showing that your healthcare service or brand understands patient needs and empathizes with their positions is an effective strategy for both short- and long-term marketing success. Let’s take a closer look at why patient-centered healthcare marketing strategies are so important and how you can practice them.

Why is Patient-Centered Healthcare Marketing Important?

Put simply, patient-centered healthcare marketing is important because it builds trust among your target audience.

Nothing is more important than healthcare. It’s no surprise that people are particularly picky about the healthcare providers and services they choose to rely on. For any healthcare service or brand to stand out and acquire a consistent patient base, it must be trustworthy.

The best way to build that trust is to center your healthcare marketing on patients: who they are and what they need. Unlike many other types of marketing, the emphasis should not be on selling specific products or services, which can come across as sales-y or pushy.

A graphic image depicting healthcare marketing.
By emphasizing your focus on patient needs, your healthcare brand:
• Demonstrates its understanding of its target audience (i.e., people who need your medical/healthcare services)
• Shows that it is committed to providing healthcare-related value as opposed to “only” making a profit
• Proves its authenticity, which can be valuable when attracting new patients or clients to your brand for the first time

A doctor and his patient in a doctor’s office looking at a tablet together.
Developing a Patient-Centered Healthcare Marketing Approach

When it comes to healthcare marketing strategies that focus on patient needs, there are several tactics and techniques you can leverage for excellent results.

Research Your Patients

First and foremost, you need to understand your patient base as profoundly as possible. There are many ways you can research your patients, including:
• Conducting surveys
• Interviewing focus groups
Collecting patient data through app and website usage

Proper target audience research is vital in the healthcare marketing sector because different patient groups will have very distinct needs. For instance, patients over the age of 55 are likely to have completely different healthcare focuses, desires, and positions in their healthcare journeys compared to patients around the age of 30, who may just be starting to investigate ongoing healthcare solutions or service providers and be responsible for healthcare decision-making for their household.

Bottom line: research, research, research. You can always learn more about the people you want your brand to serve.

However, remember that it’s vital to adhere to laws and regulations while collecting patient data. Resources like the Department of Health and Human Services and Geonetric can help you stay abreast of regulatory updates and changes as they occur.

A graphic depicting surveys, focus groups, and app + web usage as learning tools for healthcare marketing strategies.
Personalize the Experience

Once you understand your patient base, you can start personalizing the healthcare marketing experience at every possible touchpoint.

First, you’ll want to create patient personas based on key healthcare and demographic data. Next, you can tailor your healthcare marketing content and messaging to speak directly to their needs and show patients that you care about them as individuals, not numbers on a balance sheet.

For example, imagine that you want to develop a healthcare digital marketing campaign raising awareness for a new patient portal or healthcare app through email. Personalization touches like adding the patient’s name, referencing their previous interactions with your healthcare brand, and offering valuable (and educational) content in the email are all great ideas. Of course, remember that patients have to opt-in for some of these actions, like referencing previous healthcare orders.

A nurse holding her patient’s hands in her lap, comforting them as they speak.

Focus on Representation

Patients want to see people who look like them, behave like them, and live with similar conditions or life circumstances in your brand’s marketing materials. Inclusion and representation are, therefore, vital for any patient-centered healthcare marketing approach.

You should prioritize diversity and inclusion in terms of race, gender, age, and community in every aspect of your marketing, like:

• Blogs and any published written content
• Your social media video content
• Your website and email images
• And more

For instance, if you want to publish a series of testimonial patient videos on social media, be sure to get testimonials from a diverse group of former patients. When patients see that you’ve already treated or aided people who look like them, they’ll connect emotionally with your healthcare brand and won’t feel excluded from your offerings or expertise. Any marketing materials should directly represent the communities into which the health system footprint reaches.

A diverse group of individuals all laughing and smiling together.
Build Relationships

When it comes to healthcare, patients don’t want to interact with your brand just once or in a purely transactional manner. It’s much more about long-term relationships. When a patient comes to a healthcare provider for service, they’re usually looking to work with the same healthcare provider for many years or until a particular ailment has been remedied. In recent years, it has also been more common for patients to want more control over their health-related decisions and more partnerships with physicians along the full continuum of care.

A graphic depicting the bond between healthcare providers and patients.
Your patient-centered healthcare marketing should emphasize relationship-building as often as possible. Simple touches like these can help you achieve that goal:

• Show empathy in your healthcare digital marketing materials; be careful not to indicate judgment on your part in emails, ads, or videos. Emotional messaging is highly important, particularly to Gen Z and Millennial patients.
Produce valuable content that helps patients take charge of their healthcare journeys or make informed steps. If a patient feels like your brand has already provided value before they sign up for an appointment, your relationship is already off to a great start.
• Be upfront about your privacy policies in marketing communications, and never use patient data without express permission. Misusing patient data (such as inadvertently revealing what you know about a patient’s unspoken health issue in a marketing email) can destroy any trust you’ve built so far.

Educate with Your Healthcare Digital Marketing Content

Compared to other marketing niches, healthcare digital marketing needs to include a healthy dose of educational content. Informative articles like healthcare tips and general wellness advice show your healthcare brand’s authority and expertise in its subject matter and empower prospective patients to make good decisions for themselves and their families.

With this in mind, post regular educational blogs on your website, include helpful content or tips in your emails, and publish a steady stream of content.

A graphic depicting digital marketing content.

Lean into Influencer and Social Media Marketing

These days, many people use social media more often than any other aspect of the internet, including using social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok as search engines. Healthcare providers need to have a strong presence on social media apps, where they can publish informative and educational content like answers to frequently asked healthcare questions.

Influencer marketing is also highly effective for patient-centered healthcare marketing. There’s a lot of “noise” or perceived misinformation about healthcare in the world, and modern patients often trust their peers or favorite influencers more than they trust blogs or other brand-published resources. In fact, according to a recent study by Klein + Partners, 41% of people use family or friends to choose new primary care providers.

A chart illustrating the various sources of information used to select a new primary care provider.

To that end, partner with reputable influencers to inform patients about your branded services. As mentioned earlier, testimonials from previous patients posted on social media can also serve your goals well – videos like these are essentially ambassadors for your company.

Optimize Healthcare Marketing Materials for Mobile

Lastly, don’t forget to optimize your marketing materials, ranging from emails to your healthcare service app, for mobile users. Many people almost exclusively interact with the internet on their mobile phones.

Therefore, your patient portal and website need to be optimized for mobile interactivity. For instance, they should feature big, easy-to-press buttons, a navigable interface, and pages that load quickly.

You can also optimize your marketing for mobile devices in a broader sense, for example, by making more social media videos instead of long-form blog posts (since the former is more likely to be consumed on a mobile device compared to the latter). In any case, mobile optimization can only benefit your broader marketing strategy and your SEO.

A nurse showing her patient information through her phone.

Wrap Up

In the long term, building a marketing strategy that emphasizes your brand’s understanding of patient needs will help your healthcare company build the trust and authority it needs to succeed in its niche. At Infinity Marketing, we’ve helped healthcare brands succeed using healthcare marketing strategies like these, and we can do the same for your organization. Contact us today to learn more.

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