Thanks to the rise of the Internet, marketing in the healthcare industry has evolved at a blistering speed. Anyone who’s worked in the industry over the past two decades can tell you how much digital marketing best practices and strategies have changed since the days of a hospital’s first website.
That being said, one element of healthcare marketing has not changed, and that is the importance of clear and ethical communication. Healthcare is a sensitive topic and requires members of the industry to be held to the highest standard of accountability when it comes to sharing information with patients and potential investors.
With this in mind, this helpful list of healthcare marketing principles will help ensure that your marketing strategy is prepared to meet the expectations of a modern audience.
1. Ensure HIPAA Compliance
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of patients across the country. Any protected health information (PHI), such as an individual’s address or telephone number, is among the many pieces of data that healthcare professionals are expected to keep private.
So what does this have to do with healthcare marketing? Healthcare providers are required by HIPAA to meet certain standards when it comes to collecting protected health information online. These standards ensure that this private information isn’t used against patients and that their privacy is maintained even if they exchange information with their doctors online.
Basics of HIPAA Compliance
If your healthcare services website collects PHI, processes patient information before sending it off to another party, or stores that information on the company servers, then your company will also need a HIPAA compliant website. What does that look like? The two major requirements for digital HIPAA compliance are as follows:
- Websites must use HIPAA-approved forms to collecting protected health information
- Websites must be equipped with sufficient encryption to meet HIPAA security standards
Ultimately, keeping up with HIPAA compliance helps healthcare providers to build trust with patients while also avoiding scrutiny by the federal government.
Designing and deploying an effective healthcare marketing strategy is tough. With plenty of competition and multitude of online distractions, the challenge of content marketing today is differentiating a product or service from a long list of alternatives. And many of those alternatives have very attractive websites. How do companies catch up if they aren’t already leveraging the latest industry solutions?
In starts with realistic, scalable content marketing strategies that offer measurable results. A bit of foresight and trial and error will help healthcare providers to develop international content marketing strategies like these:
- Designing healthcare websites with respect to the needs of patients
- Utilizing targeted SEO marketing to target potential clients
- Leveraging online patient review to build trust and attract clients
- Rolling out a video-based marketing strategy to keep pace with competitors
- Updating social media efforts to target the next generation of patients
- Identifying the perfect balance between organic and paid marketing
3. Focus On Creating Online Experiences
The design and functionality of a healthcare services website is a powerful marketing tool in itself. Studies have shown that when individuals visit a website, they must be engaged immediately. The longer a person spends looking at a website trying to find the information they are seeking, the more likely they will grow impatient and simply head back to the search engine.
This puts pressure on healthcare professionals to create not just a website but an online digital experience that keeps patients coming back for more. Every component of the website, from the banner at the top to website to navigational tools along the side, must be designed and implemented in line with a specific strategy in mind.
The best approaches revolve around helping visitors find the exact information they need as quickly as possible.
Here are a few examples of how a positive online experience produces high-level customer engagement:
- Blog posts that keep parents up to date about the latest health dangers, including information about immunization and back-to-school health strategies
- Videos on the homepage that attract a large amount of views and direct visitors to specific parts of the website that reflect their needs.
- Collect patient information in exchange for access to a monthly newsletter that provides useful health advice while inviting recipients back to the website for more information
4. Maintain High Ethical Standards
HIPAA compliance is an important part of making sure your content marketing strategy won’t get you into trouble, but it’s not the be all and end all of ethical digital marketing. Your company’s reputation and long-term success depends on developing connections and trust with patients.
Healthcare is such a sensitive topic, so there is even more pressure on healthcare providers to operate in a manner that prioritizes patient security and safety. How does an organization hold itself to this high standard?
Here are a few essential strategies for maintaining strong ethics in healthcare marketing:
- Develop an ethics statement: Most companies develop a set of best practices or a motto that sums up the goals and values of their companies. healthcare providers should take the same approach with marketing ethics. Create a vision for the type of fair and balanced marketing your company can stand behind, write it down, and refer to it daily.
- Go beyond HIPAA compliance: Don’t miss out on opportunities to make your patient’s PHI even more safe and secure. Found encryption software that streamlines your operations while going above the minimums needed to comply with HIPAA? Leverage that as an extra selling point for your services while confidently ensuring your patient’s privacy.
- Make promises backed by data: Misleading patients about healthcare information is not only illegal, it’s morally wrong. In their over-eagerness to provide compelling marketing copy, there are even cases where healthcare providers may be tempted to embellish their services. Avoid this at all costs and make a habit of only making promises that can be supported by hard data. Avoid superlatives like “very best” as well.
- Respect your peers: It’s alright to differentiate yourself from your peers by emphasizing your unique qualifications, but trying to take down other healthcare providers with gossip and slander is a big mistake. Not only does this expose your office to litigation but it also reflects poorly on your company’s integrity. Keep to the highest standards of marketing professionalism when referring to competitors.
- Keep things positive: Fear mongering is an age old strategy for con men and snake oil salesmen to peddle their wares. After all, no one is more interested in investing in healthcare than someone who is afraid that they are going to die. That’s why it’s so critical for healthcare companies to minimize scare tactics and not be overly negative in their marketing. At best, this won’t be effective marketing for a large group of potential patients. At worst, this approach can be seen as highly manipulative. .
5. Keep Up With Industry Trends in Healthcare Marketing
Keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing is a full time job in of itself. For the sake of conversation, consider how much your company is already doing to be on top of these recently popularized digital marketing strategies:
- Connecting healthcare professionals to patients via mobile devices and apps
- Utilizing strategic SEO to place in Google’s Local Pack
- Producing a consistent stream of shareable multimedia content
- Developing a reputation as an industry thought leader via social media channels
The world of digital marketing is changing as quickly as the healthcare industry. Staying on top of both is a significant ask of any organization. But considering that most healthcare professionals spend less than 3% of their budgets on digital marketing, investing in digital marketing is a huge opportunity to get a step ahead of the pack.
Want more help putting all the pieces together? Consider the benefits of handing off the marketing leg work to a company that’s just as concerned with ethical communication? One you can try is Eminent SEO, a full service digital marketing company with years of experience working in the healthcare field.