The only thing constant with healthcare marketing is change. What are some of the top healthcare marketing trends for 2022 that will impact your practice and what should you be prepared for?
Medical practices face challenges these days from all directions (preaching to the choir, we know). The impact of COVID-19 is still impacting the healthcare space in novel ways. Combine that with staffing issues, shifting patient and referral habits, intense competition from hospitals and private equity, and the ever-changing regulatory environment, and it’s safe to say we’re all living in “interesting” times.
Raise your hand if you need a nap (or a drink) after just thinking about it!
You aren’t alone.
Despite these challenges, the need to market your practice is only increasing. However, how we market is changing as much as the regulatory environment we work in. What’s changed?
The pandemic forced our hands on the digital consumption of healthcare services. Over the past year, we’ve seen more practices leverage telemedicine and digital engagement tools than ever before. This has risen in direct proportion to increasing expectations of a high level of patient experience, and these encounters are now spread all over the internet on practice review sites – which, by the way, matter more than ever as recently reported in the Press Ganey 2021 Consumer Experience Trends in Healthcare survey where respondents said they rely on digital resources more than twice as much as provider referrals when choosing a healthcare provider.
This blog will help you understand the marketing trends to capitalize on in 2022 to help promote your practice and improve your bottom line.
11 Healthcare Marketing Trends to Understand for 2022
Many of these trends have been driven by changes forced by the pandemic and they are now hardcoded into consumer behaviors and firmly entrenched in marketing strategies for the New Year. What are the changes in our approach to marketing your practice that you need to know to achieve competitive advantage?
1. Video continues to be THE channel of choice for content growth.
Today, the average consumer spends 100 minutes per day watching online videos. Video is showing up in Google searches above all other types of content. Video content will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic this year. This means video content should be considered an irreplaceable part of your practice’s content strategy.
Healthcare providers in an increasingly consumer-driven market should pay close attention to the fact that 84% of people say a video has convinced them to make a purchase. Video matters, whether it’s a short video from TikTok or a very polished and professional video shoot.
President of Insight Marketing Group Jennifer Thompson says, “If you haven’t been doing video you need to be. If you have been doing video, double-down and do more of it.” Practices can extend a video’s reach by writing a piece of long-form content that you promote on social media. The idea is to use video as the starting point for an omnichannel experience to reach your customers no matter where they are.
2. Real-time marketing will set you apart.
The idea behind this trend is to take real-time events in the news and leverage it to tell your story. For example, the FDA just approved eye drops to counter the effects of aging.
Jennifer says, “This is an example of real-time marketing. If you are an ophthalmology practice, whether you disagree with the FDA approval, this is the kind of thing that you should be using for video and written content.” It’s an opportunity to leverage free PR to steer and direct the conversation.
3. Data becomes even more important.
We’ve always used clinical data to guide our best practices. In 2022, data will become even more important to driving our marketing efforts to reach patients. How consumers select our practice over our competitors is changing and the data we can collect online should help guide our efforts to stand out as the market shifts.
Vice President of Client Strategy at Insight Marketing Group Corey Gehrold says, “There’s so much data out there. It’s hard to sort through and find what is relevant. This year whoever can sort through and figure out how to use the data will win.”
4. Is it time to leave social media? Or, at least change the way you think about it?
This prediction may be controversial, but the facts bear it out; in 2021 alone, hundreds of businesses such as Honda, Levi’s, Microsoft, Pfizer, and Verizon all decided to leave the Facebook platform behind. Jennifer says, “You look at the increase in depression and mental health issues…and you have to ask how much time am I spending in social and how much return am I actually getting?” Companies are shifting from using Facebook in particular as a content disseminator and there are signs more doctors are using it as a straight ad platform.
Corey adds, “I think a lot of practice strategy has centered around let’s get as much content out there on every channel. I think we’re going to see a reversal on that.”
5. Interactive content gives you an advantage over the competition.
Interactive content goes beyond social media to engage users while providing them with something in return. It offers you a way to get content out there and have your audience participate and interact with it.
Questionnaires, quizzes, and polls, and even augmented reality for patients can cut through the digital clutter in new ways.
A good example of interactive content follows this type of consumer activity pattern:
- Consumer sees a social post for a LASIK quiz
- Consumer follows the link to an ophthalmology practice website
- Consumer takes the quiz whose results suggest, “You may be a candidate for LASIK”
- Consumer clicks the link and schedules a free consultation
Through this process, you identify “leads,” i.e., new patients, who are revenue generators for your practice. Corey says, “If you can set something like this up, you’re going to be light-years ahead of the competition. For 2022, a lot more practices are going to grab on to this strategy and ride it to the top of their segment within their community.”
6. Staffing issues will continue to be one of your largest challenges.
The labor shortage has almost become a cliché, but the reality is serious and it’s affecting every industry. Medical Economics calls it the number one challenge of 2022.
As a high stress highly skilled profession, healthcare is particularly vulnerable to staffing shortages. For the smaller independent practice, the problem is an acute one, simply because having the dedicated internal staff to devote to candidate sourcing is so rare.
Jennifer says that her team often hears, “I don’t have time to market my practice because I have to hire, onboard, and train my employees.” However, reallocating marketing dollars to attract employees is just as important as using marketing to attract patients.
We call this the convergence of marketing and HR. The idea is that practices must leverage new marketing partnerships to set themselves apart as an employment (and patient) destination. You’re competing against some big players now, and marketing is the new normal for attracting the type of employees that will put patients first and be with you for a long time to come.
7. HIPAA compliant conversational marketing will see a major uptick in popularity.
HIPAA compliant personalized emails and contextual chatbot software will be the new best practices of 2022. These tools allow for faster access to appointment settings as well as automated answers to commonly asked patient questions. It’s a level of digital personalization in the healthcare space that your customers demand.
Corey points out, “Pretty much every other brand we deal with offers a chatbot but healthcare has lagged behind this trend.”
Chatbots will not take the place of your receptionist or call center. However, answering the phone is just one way to respond to patients who are increasingly accustomed to chatbots and texting.
Jennifer says, “You’re going to have to find a way to incorporate the tools that people are expecting into the daily workflows of your appointment-setting staff.” It’s a HIPPA-compliant way to respond digitally to your patients and meet their demands for personalized, fast treatment.
8. Hospitals and private equity will continue to acquire practices and chip away at an independent’s ability to compete.
Private equity firms and hospitals are gobbling up practices and providers in an effort to “control the rails”, streamline patient care, and keep as many patients as possible in their network. Corey says, “It’s strength in numbers because that’s how they’re going to survive.” As hospitals circle the wagons around their growing ambulatory networks, it forces the remaining independent practices to market their work in new ways or risk bleeding patients and being forced to merge or sell.
9. Content and your website still drive the most important digital metrics for your practice(appointments).
Corey says, “Your website is still the most important component of your digital marketing success.” We would add that the content on your website is critically important to establishing credibility with your potential patients.
It also plays a role in retaining your current patient base. You can use website content that attracts the patients that you want and position yourself well with organic content that is relevant and of interest to your target patient populations.
- Per dollar spent, content marketing products three times more leads than other types of marketing
- 65% of B2B consumers say they prefer credible content from industry influencers
- The majority of buyers (71%) say they reviewed blog content before making a purchase
10. Price transparency will matter more than ever.
New regulatory rules require hospitals to publish their service rates. While the conversation is continuing about where price transparency is heading, this trend is a keeper.
“It allows us to go after new markets—employers—who are looking for ways to cut their benefits costs. Jennifer says. “As consumers learn more about this, they are going to expect the ability to compare healthcare prices just like anything else they buy.”
11. Patient reviews continue to be the new referral marketing.
Patients rely on digital resources more than twice as heavy as a doctor referral now. That means patient reviews are the new referral source.
Having a four- or five-star average patient review of your practice impacts referral leakage as well. Press Ganey says 84% of patients would not see a provider—even if they were referred by another doctor—unless the practice has at least a four-star rating.
Our advice is to:
- Monitor online reviews daily
- Have a plan in place to regularly acquire new reviews and testimonials
- Use patient reviews to establish credibility and attract new patients
So, what can you do to set yourself up for success in 2022? Start with a strategic marketing plan and be prepared to pivot as patient behavior and the environment around us continue to change.