3 Top Healthcare Consumer Trends Marketers Can Use to Their Advantage
With more than 95 million Americans using healthcare-related apps, mobile health technology has garnered the lion’s share of press coverage, but it’s just one of several trends redefining consumer healthcare. We’ve highlighted three top healthcare consumer trends marketers should be aware of in creating a forward-looking strategy.
1. From Social Media to Social Messaging: New Opportunities for Consumer Connections
Facebook and Twitter are now more than ten years old, and while still relevant, both platforms have lost their luster for hard-to-reach groups such as millennials, and remaining users are sharing and interacting less with each other. According to a 2016 study by Wall Street Research firm Piper Jaffray, only 13% of younger millennials describe Facebook as their favorite social sharing platform, while a stunning 80% report using the image-driven social messaging app Snapchat as their primary destination for social sharing. How big is Snapchat? Daily video views went from 2 billion to 10 billion in 2016, according to data from Bloomberg Technology News. Snapchat is winning advertiser dollars—projected to reach $1 billion in 2017– as it steadily increases its user base across multiple demographics. There are two standout tools offered by the platform which can be easily employed by marketers to increase consumer engagement in healthcare;
- Snapchat Stories allows users to merge multiple snaps into a video that stays online for 24 hours. The time-sensitive topic can be exploited by marketers to highlight trending topics relevant to targeted audiences or week-long, sequential video narrative which tells a more in-depth brand story.
- Image overlays –text and other graphics– can frame a Snapchat photo and be used to invite your audience to contribute user-generated content around topics relevant to trending social conversations
2. Value-Driven Innovations: Healthtech and Data
Wearable tracking devices
The 2017 Consumer Electronics Summit (CES) in Las Vegas this year highlighted a range of wearable health technologies which, while giving consumers an opportunity to more fully take charge of personal wellness, also offer opportunities for marketers. As wearables become more sophisticated, patients will need guidance on how these new tools can fit into their existing healthcare plans. A healthcare marketer could launch, for example, a consumer education campaign on the types of wearables which may be relevant to specific treatment plans or conditions, with the aim of increasing engagement and reaching new patients. Some of the most talked about products premiered this year at the conference included;
- A water-resistant chest strap by tech company QardioCore which monitors heart health without the need for bulky wires and numerous patches.
- Remote assistive technology for the visually impaired by Aira that works with smart glasses like Google Glass. The software processes video images and analyzes real-time data to alert a visually impaired person to potentially dangerous situations and delivers audio instructions to direct them out of harm’s way.
- Bloomlife, a pregnancy wearable which monitors contractions and sends data to the user’s smartphone so that data can be read and interpreted.
Voice command search
According to a recent study by Google, 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice command to initiate a search. Approximately 22% of those searches are for local information. Most voice searches use “natural language”– mimicking the way consumers speak, rather the string of keywords most common in text-based searches. Google is increasingly integrating natural language processing (NLP) into its search algorithms, so creating long-tail keywords and localized content is a must. Google is also using a newer method of response to queries called “direct answers”. Rather than supply a series of links to websites with answers when a consumer asks “what hospitals have the shortest ER wait times,” Google will scrape high-ranking websites and display the answer directly. According to Google’s statistics, out of 850,000 recent inquiries, direct answers were served 19.5 % of the time. That means that data-rich, fresh content can help your brand become Google’s “go-to” site for healthcare-related answers, thereby optimizing your audience reach and raising your brand’s profile even if users don’t click through.
“Disconnected parties — within an organization or across an entire industry — can now securely converge on the same information, allowing for the development of an entirely new class of applications that will unlock wasted resources.” – Julian Vergel de Dios, Chief Engineer, Gem Health Network (Gem, a blockchain services company)
Blockchain technology creates a permanent, shareable database of online transactions, making data more accessible and easier to integrate into analytics platforms. A technology which was born in the banking industry, blockchain offers healthcare marketers a chance to rapidly access and consolidate patient data and glean granular insights without worrying about incompatible data structures. Although still in its fledgling stages, it is quickly gaining recognition in the healthcare industry and research circles. Last summer, the FDA, The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, MIT, Harvard Medical School, and IBM commissioned separate studies on blockchain usage in healthcare and mobile healthcare apps. Companies such as Under Armour and Hexoskin are using blockchain data to power their wearables, and other Big Data companies such as Tierion are using the technology to allow healthcare systems to share mobile app data across multiple departments.
Out of 200 executives surveyed in a recent study, 16% expect to integrate a commercial blockchain solution into their healthcare service’s operations by the end of 2017. According to a study by healthit.gov, the technology will be used increasingly in the development of advanced marketing algorithms for consumer ad targeting. The study also predicts that blockchain technology will be used to create medical apps that more accurately anticipate patient healthcare needs and then respond with data-driven suggestions for specific healthcare services that will increase consumer engagement.
3. Health-Savvy Seniors: Mobile Healthtech’s New Audience
It’s no surprise that healthcare marketers have their eyes on the senior health care segment. America’s population is aging, with the number of seniors soon nearly matching that of millennials; 83.7 million. That means a greater opportunity for providers to serve patients with needs specific to geriatric care and increase consumer engagement in healthcare. According to research by Pew Internet, the number of seniors online rose from 14% to 64% between 2000 and 2016, and they are becoming tech savvy when it comes to healthcare management. Approximately 43% of seniors 65+ use the internet to research medical information, including physicians and hospital services offerings, and about 83% of seniors aged 55-64 use smartphones. Although seniors as a demographic have not adopted healthtech at the same rates as other populations, seniors are becoming more accessible to healthcare marketers online. There is ample opportunity to promote user-friendly tools which support better communications with healthcare providers as well as wellness management.
According to a survey by GreatCall, three major trends in senior mobile healthtech will dominate the industry for the foreseeable future;
Sensors & Monitoring Equipment
Devices like those created by Lively, which continuously updates biometric data by connecting with sensors throughout the home, are representative of the new, smarter generation of wearables. If a senior doesn’t interact with motion sensors or skips a dose of medication, Lively’s sensors send an alert so caregivers can intervene. Healthcare providers can not only engage seniors with educational services helping them to optimize the benefits of wearable use; they can, with permission, pull data from the device to develop a more accurate picture of patient health and service needs. As many as 78% of seniors in a recent study by Athena Health stated that they were willing to share information on their daily health with their healthcare provider in exchange for customized recommendations.
Mobile Engagement Tools
According to Athena Research, about 30% of patients over 65 use patient portals, a rate that matches the national average. The promotion of third-party apps may seem counterintuitive, but leading seniors to free products which help them manage health issues can be a smart move. Offering seniors access to voice-reading apps and mobile products that gamify cognitive skill-building helps establish your patient portal as a central resource for all health-related tools, not just branded content.
Social Healthcare Resources
Several healthtech companies are enabling healthcare systems to create private social networks that allow home health aides to communicate directly with patients and receive real-time health data. Leading electronics manufacturers, such as Samsung have created smart TVs designed to make social telemedicine easier to integrate into existing healthcare plans for patients and hospitals. User-friendly telemedicine features –which, for example, allow seniors to log in through a secure portal and have an informational session or even a virtual checkup– have been shown to reduce the rate of emergency hospital visits.
It can be challenging leveraging trends when it comes to consumer engagement in healthcare. Connect with us to book a free consultation, and we’ll help you manage the moving parts of building and optimizing your strategy.