Health care brands are navigating a pandemic-era marketplace that is requiring them to create experiences that are as easy and enjoyable to use as Amazon and Netflix.
“Most health agencies are still living in the past,” said Michael McNamara, managing director of McKinney’s recently launched health and wellness practice, noting that many shops are under-utilizing marketing tools like data, social and technology. McNamara joined the division with the goal of modernizing the standard approach to health care advertising.
The pandemic served to accelerate trends that had been growing for years: self-diagnosis via the internet, telemedicine visits with physicians, peer-to-peer interactions between patients online, and at-home testing for everything from allergies to infections.
That’s led drug makers and wellness companies, along with their agencies, to consider new marketing methods. They are reaching out to social media influencers, working with disease-specific informational websites and using data to pinpoint and customize communications timed to where the patient is in his or her “health journey”—from prevention to diagnosis to cure.
“People have come to realize that patients are becoming doctors themselves,” said McNamara. “People aren’t making decisions for their health based on all experts’ help. They’re making decisions based on what they learn and what they experience.”
The challenge for the industry is meeting the expectations of this empowered consumer. “Because patients are less willing to wait and possess more knowledge about themselves, they now have the same expectation for a medicine or a health app,” said McNamara. “The experience with that brand must be as good as it is when they use Amazon Prime and Netflix.”