Where brands fit into the future of healthcare

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash
Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

As healthcare goes virtual, relevant brands have a role to play in patient education and engagement.

Healthcare and treatment have transformed radically over the past seven months.

The pandemic caused a rapid shift to telemedicine out of necessity rather than preference. But virtual care creates new opportunities to advance the healthcare system, so telemedicine is here to stay.

More than 70% of healthcare professionals believe telemedicine will remain beyond COVID-19, according to Kantar. Nearly $30 billion has already been spent on virtual healthcare in 2020, and that number could reach $100 billion by 2023, per estimates by HCP networking company Doximity.

This shift opens new opportunities for marketers to help both patients and healthcare professionals navigate an already complex health ecosystem that’s changing fast.

The era of virtual care is here

Access to virtual care is expanding.

The Federal Communications Commission recently approved over $300 million to address current needs and support long-term exploration in virtual care. A range of businesses are driving the expansion, from point-of-care networks, to health IT companies to direct-to-consumer pharmacies. Virtual care is also becoming available to underserved populations, recently strengthened by Medicare’s inclusion of telehealth benefits in rural areas.

Within this ecosystem, brands have new avenues to engage patients at key moments in their decision journeys. Marketers can provide educational content, engage audiences in virtual waiting rooms and show up in diagnostic platforms focused on solutions for specific treatment needs in relevant cases.

Healthcare is more connected than ever

Connected medical devices open another important avenue for brands.

The past 10 years have seen an explosion in wearables and consumer health technologies. Exercise and nutrition apps like MyFitnessPal, Apple Health, and BetterMe have become mainstream.

Google, Apple and Amazon see the enormous value in healthcare as they continue to invest in health apps and voice technologies that assist with blood pressure monitoring, diabetes tracking and medication compliance. But this movement is being democratized beyond Big Tech to a vast network of companies, from e-pharmacy GoodRx, to mindfulness platforms such as Headspace and Calm.

We’re likely to see more brand-led remote health management apps, such as the TK app from German-based Insurance company Techniker Krankenkasse, which helps people proactively address condition triggers and symptoms.

Building value through trust

Brands can offer an important voice in this growing remote care ecosystem. Trusted branded content can inspire and educate, especially in moments when HCPs, patients, and caregivers need trusted voices.

Relevant brands can provide education on social media, where more patients are sharing their stories. Facebook has more than seven million healthcare related groups, and both patients and healthcare professionals are looking to these platforms to engage and learn from real experiences – especially during COVID-19.

We all look forward to the day when more than 25% of people don’t have to wait in their car before a doctor’s appointment. Now is the time to address that reality and embrace for the future of healthcare.

Rich Gagnon is EVP, health and wellness practice lead at Havas Media.

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