Is marketing telehealth essential to patient adoption?

Summary:

To overcome telehealth marketing barriers, it is crucial to understand the path to adoption and how your marketing efforts must support and enhance each phase.

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Healthcare has been shifting rapidly over the past decade and patients are taking more and more control of their healthcare; but even so, some are still resistant to adopt telemedicine. Educational marketing is one effective tool to increase patient adoption.

The adage “old habits die hard” holds true for telehealth. For centuries, patients have been accustomed to visiting the doctor in person when they are sick. Though this traditional model has served to be both cost-prohibitive to some and highly inconvenient to others, it is still what patients have come to expect when receiving medical care. 

Therefore, the largest barrier to adoption for telehealth services will be in conveying the ease of use as well as the accuracy and reliability of virtual medicine.

In addition, there are several barriers to successfully marketing a new telehealth services program. 

  1. Lack of a cohesive and effective marketing strategy. Telehealth is a new industry that requires a multi-faceted marketing approach to drive high rates of adoption. 
  2. Marketing budget constraints. Unlike well-established industries, telehealth has to both educate and “sell” consumers on its use. This often requires a large marketing budget to achieve, for new telehealth providers.
  3. Marketing system implementation. To ensure the right marketing mix, companies will need to track and analyze their marketing campaign ROI. This can be difficult to do with limited marketing budgets.
  4. Limited marketing skill sets. Increasing awareness of a new service can be challenging, even for seasoned healthcare marketers. Without the proper digital marketing expertise that marries together the marketing of a technology and a healthcare product, many companies will sink their marketing budget into ineffective strategies.

To overcome the aforementioned marketing barriers, it is crucial to understand the path to adoption and how your marketing efforts must support and enhance each phase.

Phase 1: Awareness.

Telehealth is a very new concept for many patients, so defining what it is and how it can help them manage their health is the important first marketing step. To achieve this, use a content marketing strategy designed around educating patients, along with social media or video advertisements. The goal in this phase is to just increase awareness that your services exist and what key benefits they can provide over traditional healthcare options. And, with 34% of patients being excited about the prospect of telemedicine, investing in educating consumers about the host of benefits is mission-critical for wider adoption.

Phase 2: Interest.

With consumers being aware of telehealth as a viable and affordable option, you want to spread the interest by overcoming their objections through content and social media placements. Many patients may not trust sharing their medical history or symptoms over a phone or video visit. While others may not trust that they will receive a high level of care if they are not physically in a doctor’s office. During this phase, it is your goal to dispel these concerns and clearly outline how telemedicine works and its reliability.

Phase 3: Evaluation.

Now that consumers are aware of telehealth and have had their initial concerns addressed, they will likely move into evaluating their telehealth options. To grow your services, it will be crucial that you are positioned as a thought leader and trusted provider in this industry. Leveraging paid search or in-app advertising can be effective ways to get in front of prospective telehealth patients that are actively looking to book an appointment.

Phase 4: Trial.

A patient has done their due diligence and selected your program for their telehealth needs. You want to maximize their experience to help attract more patients to your telehealth services. Encouraging patients to share their experiences or to rate your program on social media and on search engines is a low-cost way to build social proof and credibility around your new program.

Phase 5: Adoption.

At this phase, patients have tried your services and found them to be useful in managing their healthcare needs. The goal in this step is to nurture the patient-provider relationship by providing them with relevant content either through social media posts or a dedicated email nurture sequence. 

Driving traffic to your telehealth services program can be done, especially if you understand the road to adoption and have the right marketing analytics in place to collect, track, and optimize your marketing campaigns through each phase. The growing challenge will be in attracting new patients fast enough to warrant increased marketing spends. Want to discuss growth strategies for your telehealth program? Send me a note.