It’s not news to marketers that numerous factors, the Affordable Care Act prominent among them, are changing the way individuals in the United States consume health care. As consumers bear an increasing portion of the financial burden and as access to online health information becomes easier and easier, patients’ role in health-care decision making is only likely to increase.

This trend was highlighted in the results of a recent survey of about two dozen prominent health-care marketing executives that ZS conducted in preparation for our annual (internal) consumer practice summit. The survey results fueled a vibrant discussion on the role of patients in the health-care marketing business. About 75% of the marketers surveyed believe that consumer marketing has become increasingly important in the past three years.

We wanted to share few other interesting survey results here:

  1. The focus of consumer marketing is shifting to the later stages of the patient decision journey. Marketers expected less emphasis on disease awareness and diagnosis to drive initiatives and more focus on driving a specific brand request and supporting adherence. Marketers are recognizing the more actively engaged, informed patient who is managing chronic and often complex disease states as a key leverage point. 
  1. Differentiation with a strong value proposition will be vital. Brands must define a strong, differentiated value proposition and messaging when reaching out to these more enlightened patients. However, with the sun setting on many blockbusters, it is becoming harder and harder to do so. The executives surveyed by ZS gave this need for a strong value proposition the highest priority (see Figure 2) among six other key focus areas. Moreover, 50% of them said their organizations are changing their value proposition to adapt to the increased “consumerization” of health care.
  1. Creating an integrated multichannel customer experience is critical. In an increasingly patient-centric market, a brand’s messaging will have to follow the patients—from their home, where they search or receive health-related information on various devices (TV, Internet), to the points of care (doctor’s offices, hospitals and pharmacies) where they receive treatment and everywhere in between (mobile platforms). While all recognized this as important, the ZS survey found that 83% of marketers find this a challenge.

While each of these trends merits a deeper dive (topics that we shall explore in subsequent blogs), there is an underlying theme that unites them: a more enlightened patient. Could health-care marketing be witnessing the advent of a patient “illuminati”? What do you think?

Topics: 2013 planning, patient marketing, Affordable Care Act, Pragati Anand