Blog: This Is Telehealth Marketing.


Adopting the new technology and new strategies that are required to serve more patients, provide better treatment outcomes and better market the organization’s capabilities and services — this is a glimpse at what it takes to grow from just surviving to thriving.

Recently, I listened to a podcast that discussed an interesting story — one that hadn’t crossed my mind in quite a while. 

It was about TV Guide.

You’re probably wondering, what in the world does TV guide have to do with telehealth?

Well, from the right vantage point, Everything – so bear with me.

In a world without the internet, TV Guide was more valuable than many of the actual networks it reported on. This weekly print magazine had one job – to let you know what was on TV. And in 1988, TV guide was sold for $3 billion. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $6.5 billion in today’s market.

What the buyer of TV Guide didn’t see in 1988 was the fundamental shift in technology that was barely 10 years in the future. In 2015, it’s estimated that the remnant of what was once a true goliath sold for around $12 million.

$3 billion to $12 million. Let that sink in for a second.

The disruption of markets usually shows up with a different mask — innovation. Let me draw one more illustration – Blockbuster Video.

There was a time when you could waste hours deciding what movie to rent by pacing the rows of VHS then DVD titles at Blockbuster.

Then Netflix came along. Ouch, Blockbuster.

Blockbuster turned down an opportunity to acquire Netflix for $50 million in 2000. In 2019, Netflix’s estimated value is $15.8 billion. Seven years later in 2007, Blockbuster would wage a $1 billion campaign to combat Netflix’s encroachment into their market. With $900 million in debt, Blockbuster would file for chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2010.

Blockbuster had failed to quickly see how the status quo fundamentally upheld their business model and didn’t give enough credit to the innovations that caused the tidal shift in convenience that Netflix brought to the consumer in the form of digital streaming media.

The results? Disruption and dissolution.

Blockbuster couldn’t read the writing on the wall, and as a result, lost everything.

So back to telehealth.

Technology has fundamentally shifted the way we communicate and consume. Companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google dominate nearly every sphere of our attention.

The death of Blockbuster should be a wake-up call for anyone who’s taking a traditional approach to the delivery of healthcare. Hospitals are literally dying.

But the forerunners in healthcare are investing heavily into telemedicine.

Becker’s Hospital Review reported, “Cleveland Clinic formed the Center for Clinical Artificial Intelligence to propel use of the technology in healthcare areas including diagnostics, disease prediction and treatment planning.” Cleveland Clinic has also been aggressively investing in digital health startups like Xealth — a Series A company based in Seattle. Emory University in Atlanta is planning a $1 billion health innovation district poised to build a new hospital, commercial space and a mixed use development.

This is really important.

If there’s one lesson we can pull from the Blockbuster and TV Guide examples, it’s this.

Whomever you serve, you absolutely must remain relevant — and convenient.

Becker’s has reported 11 hospital closing so far in 2019. Add those to the pile of bankrupt healthcare organizations.

So why are some organizations growing while others are barely hanging on?

Patient-driven marketing and services.

Adopting the new technology and new strategies that are required to serve more patients, provide better treatment outcomes and better market the organization’s capabilities and services — this is a glimpse at what it takes to grow from just surviving to thriving.

A lot of organizations may not even understand the magnitude and possibility that telehealth brings to the table.

As technology advances, more data is more easily transferred – and this is good news for both patients and doctors. For instance, wearable technology can provide many of the vital signs that a doctor would need to check during a hospital stay or office visit. Combine these with streaming video and remote recovery monitoring and you’ve got a much higher-level touch than something more basic like a phone consultation. This is a critical convenience factor for several patient segments including rural patients with limited access to care as well as busy professionals and young families who lack the time flexibility required for traditional office and hospital visits.

Telehealth solutions like this also create new opportunity. Doctors can see more patients in less time – which is a win-win for doctors who want to grow their practices or who’re overutilized in hospital settings – hospitalists are now making their rounds digitally in some cases. 

Even as far back as 2015, 86% of doctors adopting telemedicine believed they could deliver quality care through the medium. And the technology, software and processes supporting telehealth are only getting better.

But adopting new technology isn’t enough, especially when it comes to entering the story that’s going on in the patient’s mind. 

How do patients stay in touch with unwieldy organizations like regional medical centers? How do people know that in-person visits are no longer the only option? How do you get people to download and use your app?

It starts with creating the right marketing strategy for your service lines. 

It starts with showing up where your patients spend their time online – Google, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, news sites. There are a lot of nuts and bolts that go into executing a successful launch or digital marketing campaign. If you’re working on something like this in your organization, leave a comment below and let me know how things are going! And if you’re in the weeds and you need help, maybe we should chat.

This is telehealth marketing.