The 21st century can aptly be described as the ‘social network era’. The rapid evolution of telecommunications technology, improving Internet infrastructure across the developing world and booming demand for smartphones has made us live in an interconnected and interdependent age. The world has never seemed smaller and technology has impacted every aspect of our daily lives. For a very long time, the medical, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries had avoided using Social Media platforms for a number of reasons. It was largely adopted by corporate houses but not by the pharmacy companies for fear of it being too much of a legal liability. In spite of this, some pioneering healthcare companies have led the way forward in the Direct-to-Patient Digital Marketing Market. They have shown that it is not only possible but imperative in today’s rapidly changing healthcare economy.
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Today, healthcare patients are bombarded with thousands of branding exercises every day. More than half of these have absolutely no relevance to them. The Direct-to-Patient Digital Marketing Market understands the needs of a particular target audience and tailors its message to address their requirements directly. This allows healthcare providers to target the right audience at the right time with the right content. And what better way to reach patients than through popular Social Media platforms which they use regularly and are far more likely to respond positively to?
The first Direct-to-Patient Digital Marketing Market driver is the growing importance of social media and also the patient. Whether healthcare companies like it or not, patients are playing a greater role in taking their own medical decisions. Web sites such as Healthline, Everyday Health and WebMD have made it very easy for patients to self-diagnose their problem. They frequently arrive at a hospital or doctor’s clinic already informed and with a list of possible ailments troubling them. People have also begun to expect assistance to their problems at any time of the day or week. Effective care in the Direct-to-Patient Digital Marketing market is provided 24/7 by leveraging both online and offline marketing tools to educate, sustain and engage patients at every stage of their decision making process. Pharmaceutical and medical companies must adopt Social Media to survive in the digital age and those that refuse to take part in it are only accelerating their own decline.
The second driver for the Direct-to-Patient Digital Marketing Market is risk management. A company’s brand can be tarnished online almost instantaneously through the spread of misinformation by disgruntled patients or ex-employees. If the medical organisation is inactive online, the brand can be steered in any direction the public wishes to take it. Thus, healthcare companies need to manage their own PR and company’s reputation as the alternate scenario is far too risky. It is vital for all organisations to meet customers where they are and that includes being active on Social Media platforms. Using traditional media channels might often be ineffective and a wasteful expenditure since customers would be far less likely to read it or respond.
While Social Media has benefited our lives in countless ways, it has also lead to a host of issues which were never even considered a decade or two ago. In the case of the Direct-to-Patient Digital Marketing Market, there are a few challenges which must be handled with the utmost care. The first is the legal regulations concerned with both the medical industry and the Internet. Medical institutions and healthcare professionals must be very careful with their patient’s private and personal health information as it is eagerly sought after by hackers. They can never disclose it online even inadvertently as the organisation can be involved in expensive legal lawsuits which cause both financial and reputational damage. There can also be privacy concerns from the patient’s side. Older people, in general, are mistrustful of technology and the number of hacks or data leaks do little to reassure their fears. They may be hesitant to use Social Media platforms to discuss their health problems which could make it challenging for medical companies to reach them online.
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