Simon Says

4 Challenges of Modern Healthcare Marketing

(& How to Solve Them)

A group of people walking down a hallway.

Healthcare is an industry like no other

The most successful organizations—health systems, provider groups, clinical laboratories, and life sciences companies alike—are increasingly motivated more by the greater good than by generating profits.

Healthcare marketing is also unique, and it’s always evolving

Today, healthcare organizations face the same need to forge long-term customer relationships as companies in other industries, according to a recent McKinsey & Company article.1 Those customers may include other providers, healthcare executives, and payors as well as patients. Reaching each of these audiences effectively requires modern marketing approaches tailor-made to overcome the many challenges inherent in healthcare marketing.

4 Challenges of Healthcare Marketing

  1. Regulatory and compliance constraints
    • Navigating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) takes dedication and resourcefulness. Each state has its own requirements, and rules designed to protect people with specific conditions—such as substance abuse disorders2—keep changing. As a result, marketers working with healthcare organizations must fully comprehend the nuances of HIPAA, understand the risks, and know how to manage them. Healthcare marketers also must navigate proper regulatory and legal reviews to ensure all content is 100% compliant.
  2. Time crunches and busy schedules
    • Healthcare provider burnout has reached an all-time high.3 Staffing shortages across hospitals, health systems, and nearly all other industry segments mean organizations—and their people—are doing much more with less.4 As a result, healthcare professionals don’t have time to sift through crowded inboxes of irrelevant emails. Savvy marketers will approach providers with empathy, understanding the time constraints they’re under. They’ll also know how to get providers’ attention by offering content that adds value to their day.
  3. Marketing skepticism and resistance to change
    • Healthcare is an industry built on relationships and science. Providers put their patients first and trust data to ensure they’re making the best treatment decisions. They’re naturally skeptical of traditional marketing, especially messages about solutions that overpromise and under deliver. That’s why successful healthcare marketing approaches require exhaustive research, factual, credible statements, and personalized campaigns geared to educate providers on how they can solve a specific problem.
  4. Patients who rely on “Dr. Google”
    • We live in an era of the empowered patient, with medical information available at the tap of a smartphone screen. Sometimes this makes doctors’ lives easier because their patients are more informed. Other times it has the opposite effect, as providers spend more time with patients debunking the misinformation that unfortunately is prevalent online. Marketers can help providers develop accurate, research-based content that will educate their patients and rise above the online noise.

4 Strategies that Move Healthcare Marketing Forward

Understand your audience

Personalized marketing approaches start with a deep understanding of the audience you’re trying to reach. That’s why the first step in any healthcare marketing strategy begins with research. Zero in on the details, seeking to learn more about the types of providers (primary care physicians, OB/GYNs, surgeons) you’re trying to reach. With this kind of insight, a marketing partner can help you use modern tactics like account-based marketing (ABM) to deliver the right message to the right providers at the right time.

Tailor messages to address pain points

Successful healthcare marketing isn’t about your company or your service. Instead, it’s about your audience—specifically, the way you can help them address their most pressing pain points or needs. The most effective messaging strategies today begin by conveying an understanding of providers’ challenges in detail. Only then do these strategies reveal the potential solution. This challenge-first messaging approach allows your product, service, or brand to be the guide that helps solve your audience’s challenge. It also allows you to explain the “why” and overcome any resistance to change.

Leverage thought leadership and education

Healthcare providers are scholars who love to learn. They will invest the time to read thoughtful and insightful e-books, white papers, and analyses under two conditions: one, they include citations from reputable medical sources and two, they’re easily and quickly accessible. You can achieve both goals by using writers and researchers with deep industry expertise to create thought leadership assets. Then, you can leverage content syndication to distribute those articles across websites and social media platforms that providers frequent.

Embrace technology and a data-driven approach

If there’s one thing healthcare providers and modern marketers have in common, it’s a desire to drive improvement through campaign performance data (non-PII). Aim to develop KPIs so you can measure results of your campaigns, interpret their meaning, and understand how to optimize your campaign’s impact moving forward. Extra credit if your organization already collects valuable first-party data. If so, craft compliant and effective strategies for using that data to reach the audience that needs to hear your message the most.

Make Healthcare Marketing Easier

Healthcare providers don’t have the time to bring their marketing partners up to speed. That’s why it’s crucial to partner with agencies that already understand the nuances of healthcare. At The Simon Group, our staff eats, sleeps, and breathes healthcare. We read the AMA Morning Rounds and STAT pharma newsletter with our morning coffee. We catch up on health news from The New York Times and the Boston Globe throughout our day. All so we can continue to refine our understanding and sharpen our insight when it comes to effective healthcare marketing.

We also make it easy to get started. We roll up our sleeves right away, start collaborating with you, and craft intelligent solutions that can help you reach healthcare providers effectively.

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  1. Broitman A, Jimenez M, Lowrie J. Marketing in healthcare: Improving the customer experience. McKinsey & Company. March 15, 2023. Accessed August 7, 2023.

  2. Comstock J. New HHS rule would harmonise substance abuse privacy rule, HIPAA. Pharmaphorum. November 29, 2022. Accessed August 7, 2023.

  3. Berg S. Pandemic pushes U.S. doctor burnout to all-time high of 63%. AMA. September 15, 2022. Accessed August 7, 2023

  4. Ross Johnson, S. Staff shortages choking U.S. health care system. U.S. News & World Report. July 28, 2022. Accessed August 7, 2023.