Unpacking the patient-as-consumer trend: 3 ways for healthcare brands to compete

Unpacking the patient-as-consumer trend: 3 ways for healthcare brands to compete


Katie Gordon

The healthcare landscape looks different today than it ever has before. And as non-traditional consumer-first companies like Amazon and Google disrupt your industry and actively vie for market share, your healthcare organization must embrace a patient-as-consumer mindset to stay relevant.

But what does that look like exactly? How can you evolve your brand promise to meet the demands of today’s stakeholders? And what infrastructure do you need to put in place to serve your audience where they are?

Many health systems are answering these questions by expanding their capabilities in data, technology, analytics, virtual care, and in-home care. Others are actively shoring up their operational gaps and taking steps to grow their geographic reach.

No matter how your organization chooses to proceed, one thing is certain. The old adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same” is simply not true. For healthcare brands, the more things change, the more they change. That means you need to act decisively to position your brand to compete. Here’s what marketing leaders need to consider.

1. Prepare now for M&As and partnerships that will keep your brand relevant

You know better than anyone that the ways people access healthcare are undergoing a seismic shift. From online pharmacies to telehealth to all-inclusive concierge services, there’s no shortage of avenues for people to get their healthcare needs met. And there’s no shortage of competition either.

As we see more disruptors enter the healthcare space, hospitals and health systems will need to step up to the plate and innovate to keep up. COVID-19 compelled many healthcare organizations to begin moving beyond brick-and-mortar patient care methodologies, but there’s more to do. Whether that means evolving their own service offerings or pursuing partnerships, mergers, and/or acquisitions, it’s vital for health systems to move boldly to attract savvy, digital-first, empowered consumers.

The implications for you are clear. With all this activity, there’s a strong chance your healthcare organization will be among those looking for ways to enter new markets and extend their brand’s reach. And if that involves pursuing an M&A deal or strategic partnership, you as a marketer will play a key role in maximizing the business impact of that decision.

Proactively working with a rebrand implementation partner even before a deal is announced is a smart way to:

  • Assess the size and scope of your potential brand change
  • Conduct scenario planning to evaluate the cost and impact of the rebrand options available
  • Create financial projections to accurately measure the impact to your bottom line in year one and in subsequent years
  • Develop a realistic timeline that takes all your organizational interdependencies into consideration

Whether you undergo a complete rebrand with a name change, a brand refresh, or implementing a thoughtful co-branding strategy, an expert partner can help you roll it out in a way that supports your overarching business goals.

2. Reimagine your brand’s patient experience using a customer-first lens

Even if your hospital or clinic is down the street from where your audience lives or works, you may not be their default choice for healthcare. That’s especially true if your patient experience is frustrating or antiquated in any way.

Investing in tools that provide convenient access is just the start; you also need a consistent brand experience.

To compete with the frictionless user experiences giants like Amazon and CoreHealth offer, you’ll need to honestly assess what your patients’ user experiences and journeys are like today (especially in the digital space) and then make meaningful improvements. In other words, you’ll need to treat your audience like the consumers they are.

For example:

  • Can your audience easily find a preferred provider and make an appointment online?
  • Is your overall digital experience seamless and consistently on-brand?
  • Do you have a modern, intuitive app where patients can manage their care, ask questions, and access their health records?
  • Have you rolled out any texting options as an easy way for patients to get support?
  • Do you offer in-home testing opportunities?
  • When patients visit you in person, are they able to find their way without getting lost or asking for directions?

Again, it can be helpful to engage an outside partner to offer an objective perspective. BrandActive can perform a 360⁰ analysis to identify gaps and recommend strategies for filling them.

3. Create a consistent digital brand experience

Since today’s consumers do so much online, it’s vital for healthcare brands like yours to pay particular attention to shoring up your digital capabilities. So once you’ve assessed your patient experience and uncovered areas for improvement, it’s time to put the right tools and technologies in place to serve your audience well.

Investing in robust platforms and digital tools that give your patients-as-consumers the convenient access they expect is just the starting point. You also need to deliver a consistent and compelling brand experience all the way through. This can be challenging if you’re integrating a number of disparate third-party platforms together.

This is another area where BrandActive’s expertise can help you get ahead. We can work with you to:

  • Conduct current state assessment and future state modeling
  • Identify appropriate tools and platforms to improve the patient experience and assist with execution
  • Audit existing digital channels to uncover brand consistency gaps
  • Create clear brand guidelines and repeatable processes to follow in all digital channels
  • Help train employees, vendors, and partners on the ins and outs of adhering to your brand standards

Delivering a consistent, predictable brand experience is always key to fostering trust with your audience. But it’s particularly important as a healthcare organization in a rapidly evolving digital environment; consumers need to be absolutely certain that your brand is reputable and trustworthy.

Keep care at the heart of your healthcare brand’s evolution

The patient-as-consumer shift is here. And there’s no question you’ll need to evolve your marketing approach to keep pace with modern expectations.

Even so, no matter how many choices your audience has, they don’t want to feel like they’re being marketed to. This is still healthcare, after all — emphasis on care. Therefore, as you evolve and modernize your brand promise and service offerings, remember this: In a world of high-tech, high touch often makes all the difference. To really stand out from your competitors, treat your patients-as-consumers as the valuable, one-of-a-kind human beings they are.

Need help figuring out how to get your brand where it needs to go? Just reach out. We’d love to talk with you.

Related Insights