Retail Healthcare – The Future of Healthcare Marketing
At the HLTH 2023 event in Las Vegas, talk about innovation, disruption and AI dominated, signaling a changing landscape. Major corporations unveiled new retail healthcare services to reshape the industry. Competition is no longer just the hospital across town. Now, with innovative healthcare disruptors emerging, legacy healthcare models need to adopt retail marketing strategies to stay ahead.
A New Wave: Non-Healthcare Brands Diving into Retail Healthcare
Historically, brands like Uber were synonymous with transportation, and Instacart with grocery delivery. But the lines are blurring.
Uber & Lyft are among the latest non-healthcare providers to jump into the fray. Rideshare users can now book more than just a ride to the airport or restaurants. By offering non-emergency medical rides for seniors and ensuring deliveries of essentials, they’re tapping into a market ripe for direct-to-consumer healthcare solutions.
Instacart, one of many food delivery services that gained popularity during the pandemic, has expanded its partnership with a number of hospitals and health systems to offer patients access to nutritious food delivery programs.
Instacart Health’s “food as medicine” services include virtual food storefronts with dietary recommendations from providers. One co-branded Medicare Advantage plan includes $50 to $100 quarterly Instacart stipends for eligible seniors.
Retail Healthcare: Beyond Traditional Boundaries
It’s not just direct-to-consumer startups getting in on the retail healthcare trend. Traditional retail stores like Dollar General are launching their own venture into the healthcare industry.
Taking medicine directly to consumers is the strategy behind Dollar General’s DocGo mobile clinics. The mobile clinics are located in parking lots of Dollar General, the nation’s largest retailer with more than 19,000 stores. Targeting largely rural areas, DocGo clinics cater to patients needing urgent or primary care. Private insurance, Medicaid and Medicare are accepted. Self-pay rates start at $69.
Other retail giants also provide convenient patient entry points where patients shop. Costco offers its members $29 virtual primary care visits through a partnership with healthcare marketplace Sesame, billed as a direct connection to providers with no insurance markups or hidden costs. Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, CVS and Walgreen’s all continue to expand healthcare offerings.
A few key takeaways emerge from direct-to-consumer healthcare marketed by non-healthcare companies—convenience, transparency and customer service, all benchmarks of direct-to-consumer retail.
The pandemic shifted patient-centered care to patient-empowered care. Consumers want to order and pay for food with a tap on an app. They want items delivered the next day. They want questions answered immediately and problems solved promptly.
However, consumers don’t want to click exhaustively on a healthcare website for information, waste time on an automated menu tree or be unable to get an appointment for weeks when they’re sick now. And the empowered patient certainly doesn’t wait in a waiting room for hours before seeing their doctor.
Healthcare disruptors market convenient, quick access through one point of entry. How can you compete? Start thinking—and marketing—like a retailer.
Retail Marketing Strategies for Healthcare
Creating a Winning Patient Engagement Strategy: The Patient-empowered approach
Draw inspiration from retail marketing that focuses on the customer. Prioritize patient needs and preferences at the initial point of contact to give them a more personalized experience that fits their needs.
Data-driven Healthcare Marketing
Retailers use data to analyze customer behavior and preferences. Do the same by leveraging analytics to segment patient populations, target specific demographics and customize messaging. Healthcare organizations can leverage free tracking tools such as Google Analytics and Meta Pixel. However, be cautious of what info you collect and where tracking pixels are placed on your brand’s website. Your marketing strategies must still follow relevant HIPAA guidelines.
Direct to Consumer Healthcare: Prioritizing Customer Service
Retailers create positive in-store and online experiences to make customers feel welcome, comfortable and appreciated. Nordstrom’s legendary customer service is: “Rule #1. Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.”
Make your patients feel just as warm, comfortable and welcome by streamlining processes, reducing wait times and keeping the facility clean and organized. Know their names and demonstrate that you care.
Retail Healthcare’s Convenience & Accessibility
Retailers, whether Amazon Clinic’s virtual health visits or the CVS “super app” that combines benefits, healthcare delivery and retail channels in one platform, understand convenience and accessibility. Promote telemedicine services, extended hours, easy appointment scheduling and anything else you’re doing to make healthcare easier and more convenient for patients.
Healthcare Disruptors: Branding and Positioning
Differentiate yourself by highlighting what you offer that patients don’t get from the competition, whether it’s another hospital, the big-box pharmacy or online options.
Retail-inspired Healthcare Digital Marketing Tactics
Promptly at 7 a.m. each day, retail offerings flood most email boxes. BOGO; 50% off today; holiday fares slashed. Retailers make it easy for you to spend lots of money in minutes. Healthcare marketers can also utilize digital marketing to reach and engage patients effectively with messages tailored to their specific interests based on data.
Enhancing Patient Trust: Online Reviews and Ratings
Retailers actively manage their online reputations by encouraging satisfied customers to submit online reviews and ratings. Would you dine at a restaurant with consistent bad reviews or book a rideshare driver who has less than four stars? Healthcare providers and marketing teams can proactively ask patients to leave reviews. More importantly, respond to feedback whether positive or negative.
Healthcare Loyalty Programs: Rewarding Commitment
Think about the loyalty cards in your wallet or on phone apps. 150 stars for a free coffee. Bonus points for shoe discounts. Invitations to exclusive in-store events. Healthcare loyalty perks might include wellness programs, discounts on products offered by a provider or exclusive concierge services for long-term patients. It’s all about making the patient feel special.
Striving for Healthcare Pricing Transparency
Retailers typically provide clear pricing and transparent information about products. However, healthcare pricing can remain a mystery until the bill comes. Strive for pricing transparency to help patients make informed decisions.
By thinking like a retailer and adopting retail marketing strategies, healthcare organizations can improve patient engagement and satisfaction, which ultimately result in better patient care.
TotalCom is a full-service marketing agency helping brands like yours tell their story to the right audiences. Email Lori Moore or call TotalCom Marketing Communications at 205.345.7363 to see how TotalCom may be the right fit for you.