Effective Healthcare Information and Technology Marketing 101: 4 Key Cornerstones

Andrew Moravick

What do you need to know to create an effective marketing strategy for the healthcare information and technology space? Outright, the big question, of course, is “why are we even talking about this space as ‘healthcare information and technology?’” Couldn’t it just be marketing for “healthcare information technology”, “healthcare technology,” or the even shorter, snappier “healthcare IT?”

Here lies the first lesson, and it’s a BIG one…

The “And” Makes All the Difference in Healthcare Information and Technology:

In most industries and businesses, information and technology are virtually inseparable. Information is accessed, managed, stored, and protected via technology. Normally, there’s no real need to understand the relationship between information and technology because the Venn diagram is pretty much the same circle.

In healthcare, though, the relationship between information and technology is complicated. At a high level, there may seem to be familiar pairings that marketers might recognize – an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system, for example, can function a lot like marketing and sales’ old friend the CRM in aggregating and managing vital data on individuals in one platform. It’s information. It’s technology. Same old, same old, right? 

Wrong. Healthcare actually requires its own, unique field of expertise known as “healthcare informatics.” In short, healthcare informatics professionals must talk in technical, medical, and operational terms to map data fields, comply with strict regulations, and ensure accessible information leads to positive health outcomes, business outcomes, and meets all required standards.

“Healthcare technology marketing,” or “health IT marketing” can be sufficient casual ways to reference efforts in this space, but the nuances can’t be lost to the shorthand terms. Healthcare marketing is a unique animal in its own right. Marketers must, of course, remember healthcare marketing is different, but again, marketers must also remember the relationship between information and technology is different too.

Information can be housed in technology. Information can be produced by technology. Information captured in one kind of technology, like an MRI or ultrasound can get passed to another piece of technology like EMR. The relationship between information and technology in healthcare IS complicated, and in marketing to healthcare information and technology professionals, you must always maintain that level of respect for your targets.

Healthcare Information and Technology Marketing Requires Savvy Marketers:

Healthcare is a necessity. Information is a necessity. Technology is a necessity. Healthcare information and technology solutions, one could easily assume, should pretty much sell themselves, by necessity. Place your product where healthcare information and technology buyers are looking, promote it as needed, price it well, and sales will be singing marketing’s praises year-over-year with no sweat off your back…

That’s the assumption. The reality is healthcare information and technology professionals are resourceful, experienced, and in-demand people. They’re hard to reach, harder to convince, and hardest of all, often generally hardened by the common technical, operational, or healthcare challenges and limitations they face on a daily basis. They still need to be convinced that a new solution or competing platform is worth the added time and effort of making the change. They need effective marketing content to feel confident in their decisions. They need insights on ROI to ensure proposals are approved. Basically, they need effective marketing.

At present, healthcare information and technology content marketing research shows that 90% of buyers in this sector report difficulty finding high quality, trusted information to inform technology decisions. In other words, marketers aren’t making it easy for buyers to know what they need to know to make confident, informed healthcare information and technology decisions.

In fact, what healthcare information and technology buyers are telling us should be a clear wake-up call to marketers to step up their game in this space. Of respondents:

• 75% want more healthcare industry perspectives

• 66% are in need of more trusted / independent sources

• 65% cite too much marketing hype / empty buzzwords

• 65% want more stories of how others have benefited

• 53% are bothered by overly product-oriented, sales-focused content.

Healthcare Information and Technology Marketers Have Long Term Relationships with Buyers:

Our research shows the average buying cycle for healthcare information and technology investments comes in at a full twelve month timeline. On average, there are approximately nine individual contributors involved in a typical purchase decision in this space. As committee efforts, of any kind, aren’t exactly known for rapid actions, clearly, marketers must be prepared for the long haul.

Rarely, if ever, is there any one person who, once reached, will flip a switch for a decision. Executives may delegate research to team specialists. Different functional teams must weigh a wide variety of implications from compliance, to security, to technical compatibility, to medical utility. This takes lots of content, campaigns, touchpoints, channels, and workflows.

Marketers need to be prepared to walk this long and complicated path with their buyers in this space. Moreover, the paths can vary from customer to customer. For one organization, price may be the starting point as it could be the most objective criteria for scoping options. Then vendors within a common price range are evaluated for more top-of-funnel resembling differentiators like expertise, intangibles, support offerings, etc. Others may not even know options exists or what the implications of purchases may be, and require a whole curriculum of educational materials.

If marketers in the healthcare information and technology space look at buyer behaviors over short quarterly or monthly timeframes, key patterns become indistinguishable for causal or correlative impacts. When looking over the long-term, though, common patterns do arise that show what drives buyers, and plays to cater to these patterns can be prescribed.

Never Lose Sight of the Human Elements in Healthcare Information and Technology:

It’s a common rallying cry for effective marketing in any space, but it’s extremely important here as well – you’re not marketing to titles, functions, leads, accounts, organizations, or verticals; you’re marketing to people.

In healthcare information and technology, there are powerful stories of how solutions can help people. Lives can be saved, life-altering medical expenses can be avoided, communities can thrive, and innovative discoveries can be made. What gets healthcare information and technology professionals out of bed in the morning is that their efforts directly help people.

In the marketing profession, it’s hard to find examples where good marketing translates to good things or meaningful outcomes for regular people. However, being a driver in convincing an organization to adopt a transformative solution, or enrich capabilities for things like interoperability can directly improve experiences for patients or providers.

It takes human, relatable stories to drive such changes in the healthcare information and technology space, but such changes also make for even more great stories to tell. The complexities of healthcare information and technology are many, but it’s still people dealing with them every day. Connect with these people, help these people when possible, and in whatever marketing approaches you deploy, you’ll find success.

For more insights on effective healthcare information and technology marketing, please feel free to contact us today!

About the Author

As a Senior Marketing Manager for HIMSS Media, Andrew Moravick leverages extensive B2B & B2C marketing experience to oversee and optimize HIMSS Media's content marketing and demand generation efforts. In previous roles, Andrew has worked for Aberdeen Group, Snap App, PUMA, and Eloqua.

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