The COVID-19 pandemic has given consumerism in healthcare new importance. Customer-centric became the buzzword that pushed HCPs and patients to the center of all action.
Health is no longer just a scientific magazine or the experienced word from a doctor. Health is now highly digitalized for patients and HCPs that are active participants in their journeys, where making informed decisions is key. So, pharma marketers must adapt and think of new ways to equip both patients and HCPs with the necessary tools to respond to the ongoing changes in the field.
Consumerism in healthcare & COVID’s push
COVID has brought change to the American pharmaceutical industry and the way people relate to their health. To a certain extent, the pandemic has pushed healthcare consumerism to the forefront of all action.
As isolation shapeshifted into the new reality, healthcare was transferred to the four corners of our homes. This has motivated the industry’s ecosystem and marketing strategies to rapidly adapt to the new changes. Doctors’ appointments were mainly done via email or video. Thus, contributing to the strengthening of telehealth.
Did you know that in 2020 5% of American Consumers (16.5 million) reported that they or a family member had used telehealth for the first time during the pandemic?
But what does this truly mean to the pharmaceutical industry and the healthcare system? At that point, there was a misalignment between what the consumers were looking for and what was available to them.
A recent PWC survey on the impact of COVID on consumer behavior shows this discrepancy between consumers and providers. For example, 37% of US patients declared an intent to use virtual appointments for the ongoing treatment of chronic diseases. However, only 17% of providers thought these to be the most effective method.
In a way, consumers are open to a new approach. Companies, in their turn, are taking steps toward a new paradigm in which both patients and HCPs are key players. Yet, to this day, these are still far from exploring the full potential of these new opportunities.
The truth to retain is that US patients, for instance, are open to a digital approach to health. o, the future must pass by listening to their needs and how they intend to monitor their own health. So, now, more than ever, the way is a customer-centric approach.
One way or the other, the pandemic has brought forth the importance and potential of consumerism.
As the post-COVID era sets in, there are long-lasting changes in consumer behavior that are worth noting. So, pharma companies reassess their views on consumerism and effectively rethink their marketing and communication strategies.
“The old model, which looked at consumers as ‘patients in need,’ is over…we now have empowered, informed, and motivated healthcare consumers”
– Timmy Garde, Chief Innovation Leader at Levane Life Sciences (PharmaVoice)
So, what is the way going forward? There is a need for a joint effort to redesign healthcare.
First, pharma companies must take their time to assess their patients’ and HCPs’ behaviors. While listening closely to their feedback and needs. What is it that they want? What is it that they need? This is a more educated and informed consumer generation, that wants to take active participation in their own healthcare. And so, it is important to take that into consideration.
Then, you must think about ways to tailor your marketing strategy around your consumer. Following, in that way, a customer-centric approach. The consumer is at the center of your marketing strategy, and so you must know its:
- Preferences; and
- Reasons behind interaction with your brand.
Ultimately, you must personalize service. And how can you do this?
Digital tools and platforms have the benefit of providing insightful data on activity and customer behavior. Furthermore, patients and HCPs alike rely on it to consume content and access information of value to them. And so, these are a fundamental part of healthcare consumerism’s future.
Digital tools to consider
Some of the valuable digital tools and practices you might consider are:
Digital Health Apps
Consumerism is no longer just about selling or purchasing a product but also about maintaining a continuous flow of communication. Only through this can brands establish a link of loyalty with their customers that will ensure they will come back to you when needed.
One way to maintain communication with your audience is through digital health apps that are becoming more popular among consumers. Further reinforced by COVID and patients’ concerns around their wellness.
According to an IQVIA report, in 2020 around 90,000 digital health apps reached the market. Turning now accessible to the consumers a wide catalog of over 300,000 health apps to choose from.
These are highly valuable because they:
- Connect you directly with the consumer;
- Allow you to identify the recurring problems and/or concerns of your customers;
- Help you act on a more immediate level.
Face-to-face interactions were once the main form of communication between HCPs and sales reps. However, that changed with physicians’ busier schedules which led them into seeking the Internet for obtaining information.
Virtual meetings are now an alternative or complementary practice to traditional methods. In the US, these last an average of 31 minutes (more than in-person interactions).
Allowing, in that way, sales reps to:
- Establish a connection with the HCP;
- Understand an HCP’s specific needs and from there tailor your response accordingly; and
- Explore other topics of interest that might add value to your interaction.
During the pandemic, this practice became even more evident, and, particularly valued by HCPs who appreciated the adaptability and flexibility of the new methods. For that, in 2020 87% of 720 physicians interviewed for a survey were found to express a desire to have more virtual or a mix of remote and physical interactions with sales reps.
Video is a growing trend favored by marketers from the most varied fields of work. This content format is both entertaining and informative. Thus, boosting engagement and providing new possibilities for the success of your brand.
In 2022 86% of businesses are expected to use video as part of their marketing strategies (Wyzowl). And that is because video allows you to:
- Understand your audience’s preferences and interests;
- Identify pain points;
- Boost engagement and interactivity;
- Tailor your content around the audience’s needs; and
- Educate the consumer on your product and its features.
For that, video constitutes a valuable tool that is vital to service personalization.
Want to better educate your consumer but don’t know where to start? PubVisuals and PatientVisuals are here to better help you communicate with your target audience. By turning your complex data, into easy-to-understand videos, you guarantee an increase in engagement, as well as in the generation of new leads. Book your free expert session today.
More on healthcare consumerism…
Consumerism in Healthcare: The New Normal
Customer-Centric Approach in Pharma
Healthcare: Trends for Patient Engagement in 2022