Healthcare has traditionally been considered an analogue industry. I mean, don’t you need to be face-to-face with a doctor for him or her to properly diagnose you and give you a prescription? Don’t you need to go to a lab to get tests? Doesn’t a doctor need to physically see you during a follow-up visit to tell if your health is improving? Don’t you need to visit a pharmacy in order to get medication?
While a lot of those scenarios still hold true, digital is slowly changing things in the healthcare industry and making inroads in interactions conventionally thought to be immune to disruption. And the companies that survive and thrive will be those who make this shift sooner rather than later.
Digitization of healthcare brings a lot of positives with it. It can potentially streamline healthcare operations, solve a patient’s pain points in what is already a troubled time, build trust and offer a seamless user experience. In fact the goal of digitization of healthcare has to be to make things as easy for patients as possible. Which matches up with the tenet of design thinking that works to always put the users and their needs first – a user-centred approach.
To design new models of healthcare that can deliver services to needy customers and to advance an ageing healthcare industry and make it ready to meet the demands of a new generation, several things have to be considered. The most important being how to sell the new style of healthcare to wary consumers. Here we will talk about how to market healthcare products to patients in a digital age.
Increasing access for patients anytime, anywhere
The first and easiest way to go about improving healthcare product marketing is to make it easier to access. Nowadays consumers expect everything to be available to them where they are at the click of a button – from food to fashion. In many industries this has been a huge cause of digital disruption that has left the players who have not embraced it behind. This change is apparent in the healthcare industry too. Telemedicine has made great strides in the last decade and now patients can interact with their doctors through sophisticated video means that respect privacy and are safe. For consultations that don’t require an in-patient exploration by the doctor, patients can simply dial in and talk to the doctor about what’s troubling them. Even mental healthcare is available through online consultations, which has proven to be very useful for patients who would normally avoid taking the effort to go into a doctor’s office.
Increasingly healthcare products and services are available to patients right in their homes. A lot of treatment options are also becoming self-care devices, which means that patients can increasingly diagnose and treat themselves through at-home care devices like dialysis machines. Medication is also available at a patient’s doorstep through pharmacy apps that just need a photograph of a doctor’s prescription. Even these prescriptions are available through consultations online.
Lab tests can also be conducted at home. All you have to do is open an app and book an appointment. During current times the availability of so many healthcare services in the convenience of your own home has been a boon as people avoid going outside and to hospitals. Even in the future, this trend will continue and the easy accessibility of these services will be taken for granted.
For marketing healthcare products this ease and convenience of availability should be stressed upon as a means to get new customers and retain the ones you already have. Companies should empower their designers to design consumer-friendly apps and devices that patients can use at home to talk to a doctor, order medicines and even keep track of their treatment. The design should be as simple as possible so that patients, especially the older patients who might be more in need of healthcare, can operate the system on their own and avoid technical complexities.
Grappling with growing expectations of faster turnaround time
Besides the convenience of faster service, another aspect that users have come to expect is fast service. They want the products and services they ordered to be delivered either immediately or as fast as possible. Hence the proliferation of apps offering same day delivery. The same can be expected from healthcare as well. Patients expect the doctors to send prescriptions immediately and the medication to be delivered the same day. Lab tests results should be available through emails or messages the next morning. Companies need to optimize their processes to ensure that the turnaround times for their services are as short as possible. This will ensure customer happiness and retention. Tests need to be done rapidly and deliveries as fast as possible. If the customers have to wait too long to interact with a medical professional, they will take their service elsewhere.
Faster services are easier to market to potential customers and can greatly increase the adoption of a new app or website. Designers should work on optimizing workflows and making the overall customer experience as fast as possible for users on both ends of the app. The process for first interaction to delivery of service should be as seamless and hassle-free as possible.
Easy to Understand product minus technical jargon
One issue that can crop up when trying to market healthcare products is technical language. It can form a barrier to entry for many consumers who might find the language confusing and hard to understand. But healthcare does involve a lot of technical jargon. It becomes the job of the design team at the healthcare company to simplify the language as much as possible. When the users log on to the app or the website, they shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by all the information they are presented with. It might make them log off the service permanently. The design of the service should be as intuitive as possible and make it so the users can get to what they want to buy or read as fast as possible. When trying to market a new feature like the availability of a lab test or the addition of a specialist for consultation online, you want to make the purpose of the test or specialist clear to the users. Using medical terms that most are not familiar with will result in very little engagement.
Also important to keep in mind is the kind of customer you are targeting. Most of the people who need healthcare are older users who are most used to in-person interaction and might be scared off by a complicated process. You want to ensure that they don’t decide that it is better to go to the clinic physically than interact with your app or website.
There are an increasingly larger number of platforms that users can use to interact with a business. Not only can they use a desktop or mobile, but they can also use different operating systems on both. There are also multiple messaging apps, email, social media, video conferencing and more. The possibilities for them to interact with your business are endless. It is the job of the UX team to ensure that the experience that a customer has with the business is seamless regardless of the means of interaction. All these different services need to be integrated to maintain a common database of knowledge about the customer so that they do not have to repeat the same information multiple times.
The company should pay attention to the overall cohesiveness of the platform that ensures a smooth experience. The increased availability of your service across platforms will serve as a great marketing talking point because it will increase the interaction points and make users feel like they can access your services however it is convenient.
Build Trust that lasts
And lastly, the main concern that companies have to tackle when they market their healthcare product is building trust. Users hand over a lot of sensitive information about their medical history and personal information to your platform. It is necessary to reassure them that this information is safe with you and will only be shared with the health professional. Design can play a huge role in allaying this fear by making obvious iconography and messaging assuring users of the safety of the platform. The number one hiccup that consumers face in switching to digital is privacy concerns and a service that can market their safety and security will go a long way to bringing more users onboard digital.
Healthcare has traditionally been an analogue service but is slowly making the switch to digital. It is important that when it makes the switch, it brings its customers along with it through good marketing.