When most people in the healthcare industry hear the initials CMO they immediately think of the Chief Medical Officer. However, the industry is undergoing a dramatic shift as consumers become the focus and the Chief Marketing Officer is an important player.  Companies need to efficiently utilize the tremendous amounts of data they have to understand their customers, create optimal experiences and lower healthcare costs.  The article below discusses how marketing and advertising have moved from peripheral functions in healthcare to front and center as companies seek to meet the demands of the consumer in order to compete. 

“Brand Aware” explores the data-driven digital ad ecosystem from the marketer’s point of view.

Today’s column is written by Mayur Gupta, global head of marketing technology and innovation at Kimberly-Clark.

I used to hear that health care was behind other industries when it comes to digital technology adoption and delivering immersive consumer experiences.

It may be behind CPG, retail, finance and travel, but it is by no means slower. The industry is evolving quickly, largely because it is finally putting the consumer at the center of its ecosystem, as opposed to the health system, provider, channel or technology. The moment the consumer becomes the center of an industry ecosystem, the opportunities and the challenges become fairly consistent and industry agnostic.

Like the other industries, health care now has the ability to capture consumer data across clinical, claims, biometrics, behavioral, demographic, insurance, administrative and cost. At the same time, technologies have increased access, improved quality and lowered the costs associated with telemedicine, always-on communication, sensors and wearables.

For the first time, health systems have another meaning for the title CMO. In addition to the chief medical officer, there is now also the chief marketing officer. Today, health care is as much about communication, convenience and always-on engagement as it is about treatments and outcomes. This has pushed the traditionally peripheral functions of marketing and advertising to the center of its operating model.

This fundamental shift isn’t a mere accident but an organic response to the broader industry dynamics that have evolved. Consumers are increasingly forced to shoulder additional health care costs as health networks shrink. At the same time, outcomes and clinical results are driving health system profit margins, leading networks to prioritize wellness over bringing in more patients.

As a result, consumers are demanding better experiences, control and choice. Consumers have thrust themselves to the center of this ecosystem and expect the same values of choice, convenience, cost effectiveness, control and experience offered by other industries, such as retail, banking, hospitality and travel. They are assuming ownership of their health and wellness, while taking advantage of information and technology.

Health care is at a crossroads where consumers are challenging the traditional models, pushing them toward convenience and experience without losing the emphasis on care and cost. The mass adoption of alternative care paths, apps, telemedicine and the harmonization of clinical data and information will ultimately evolve health care models and regulations to suit and meet the growing consumer demands.

The brands that respond with agility will survive, while the rest will perish.

Common Pitfalls

As health care adapts to a digital world, it can learn from the mistakes of other industries. The most common: the temptation to manage digital as an external entity. Large enterprises must believe and subscribe to the concept of “health care in a digital world” for a “digital consumer” who no longer differentiates between the physical and digital. Everything is now digital, including the services needed to take care of consumer health. That’s a subtle but important difference.

The health care industry should avoid channel hysteria. Just as in data-driven marketing, it’s understandable how health care companies want to become multichannel as a brand. However, consumers don’t see channels – they care about the experience, value and the story brought to them. In other words, they want immersive omnichannel and seamless experiences that drive participation and behavioral change.

With 40 million consumers looking for health information online every month, the need for always-on engagement through precise, relevant and contextual content cannot be understated. Consumers no longer wait for information; they proactively seek and find information at a time, location and touchpoint of their choice.

For brands to be successful in driving behaviors and engagement, they must understand consumers’ context – the who, where, when, why, how and what – and use it to influence and inspire every piece of content seamlessly across channels.

Brands’ ability to predict consumers’ care and wellness needs, along with giving them what they need before they know they need, it will differentiate the winners from the losers.

Read the complete article here