By the year 2020 the United States will have roughly 50 million people over the age of 65. This number is expected to jump to some 70 million by the year 2030. So, you ask, what do Boomers have to do with medical marketing and digital health?
Well, a DMN3 survey of the online habits of Boomers found that 96.1% of them use search engines while around 94.8% use email. Many of these individuals are using the Internet to research health and wellness information. Furthermore, Boomers are also responsible for around 45% of the total online product opinions and have been found to assign 3% more five-star ratings than any other generational group.
Contrary to popular beliefs that older adults have limited technological know-how, Baby Boomers actually spend around 27 hours per week online. A growing number of older adults actually feel quite comfortable using technology and social media, with an astonishing 84.9% of Boomers stating that they are regular Facebook users.
The Spending Power Of Older Adults
65% of Boomers say that they are planning to work past age 65, which is quite a radical approach to the way we may have previously viewed aging and retirement. With life expectancy on the rise, working past the age of 65 provides a sense of actively contributing to society, as well as ensuring that there is enough money available for a healthy and lengthy retirement.
Furthermore, according to AARP‘s Venture Capital Review, spending in the 50+ demographic is expected to rise by 58% over the next 20 years. This amounts to around $4.74 trillion. Currently, many brands focus heavily on the Millennial market and thereby miss out on the incredible spending power of Boomers.
How Does This Affect Your Practice?
The 65+ generation comprise a major portion of those currently seeking medical care. Regardless of their longer life expectancy, the Boomer population are more likely to face issues of hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes. Hospitals need to know how to care for an aging population and be able to accurately anticipate which services will be in the highest demand.
Forbes magazine recently published an article entitled, ‘As Boomers Age, We Need New Medical Approaches To Heart Disease’. In this article the author, Dana Dovey, cites that ‘the number of deaths from heart disease are growing in tandem with the aging population‘. The JAMA also released research showing an 8.5% increase in the number of deaths by heart disease, and a 38% increase in heart failure.
So what can we learn from this new data? One important trend to note is that, despite changes in healthcare and greater access to information and wellness programs, we still have significant ground to cover in the fight for better health outcomes. There needs to be more communication with patients to assist them on their wellness journeys as they start to age. We also need more patient follow up and better data tracking. This is where medical marketing and digital health come into play.
The digital health industry currently covers a wide array of categories including health information technology (IT), wearable devices, telehealth, mobile health, telemedicine, and personalized medicine. With the rise of technology, digital health now affords providers new and unprecedented ways of communicating with their patients. There are many unique and effective ways in which providers can now influence and improve health outcomes in their patients. Digital health is not just about creating innovative pain management devices or insulin pumps (although those are fantastic inventions), but it also provides ways for providers to connect with patients in meaningful and impactful ways.
According to a 2018 study by HIT Consultant, by 2024 the digital health market is set to reach $379B with many new digital health sectors being developed. One example of an exciting new sector of the digital health market is the area of digital therapeutics, or digiceuticals. HealthBeacon. is one such company operating in this new vertical. HealthBeacon has developed a smart sharps bin for patients who self-inject medications from home. Their unique solution to medication adherence includes an app that displays injection data to patients, and provides clinical outcomes to both patients and providers. This allows providers to treat diseases by modifying patient behavior and providing remote monitoring to improve long-term health outcomes. Healthbeacon is just one example of the many ways in which digital health is rapidly changing the healthcare horizon.
Medical Marketing And Digital Healthcare In Your Practice
A common misconception among healthcare providers is that medical marketing and digital health are simply an extension of more traditional marketing methods. This viewpoint is problematic because it causes providers to miss out on opportunities to connect with their peers and with their patients. The Digital Marketing Institute recently commented that ‘digital transformation trends provide both patients and companies….. with unparalleled access to information surrounding the impact of a healthcare strategy or pharmaceutical product, and how it may impact their overall well-being and every day life.‘
In 2020 and beyond, patients will be engaging with physicians from multiple touchpoints and personalization will play a key role in this. A customer-centric focus is imperative for physicians to remain successful in their practices. 77% of the U.S population now uses smartphones to access online information regarding their health while a recent survey of 190 patient groups found that over 50% of individuals use a health app “regularly” to manage diagnosed conditions.
To remain relevant and to succeed in this new digital world, healthcare providers must take advantage of these different ways to connect with their patients and develop personalized content to keep their patients engaged. Meaningful content gives patients the opportunity to gain insight into their provider’s knowledge, expertise, and personality.
Many physicians are unsure where to start when moving their brand or business online. For some, their only digital footprint might be the ratings that patients leave on their online business listings. Having reviews as your only online content puts you at a distinct disadvantage compared to other businesses who take greater online initiative.
A Digital Strategy
Having a digital strategy is key to developing your online brand. Establishing target keywords that you want your business to be associated with is imperative and these keywords should relate directly to the mission and vision statement for your business.
More and more patients are searching for the term “providers near me”, when looking for a doctor or health services online. Outdated business listings, old practice information and lackluster content are sure-fire ways to have patients pass over your site in favor of another business that has a more informative, engaging and polished online presence. A professional website is a key resource and foundation for you business but it is relatively meaningless if patients have no idea that your practice even exists. Having a digital strategy that covers SEO, social media marketing, and advertising will help your practice to stand out and drive new business.
The Power Of Connection
This brings us to the good stuff. For those healthcare businesses that are currently advertising online and executing SEO you are already taking a huge strides towards the digital future. However, since these tactics are typically one-sided conversations, with you talking TO your patient, it still lacks some true connection with your patients and the opportunity to hear directly from them. Medical marketing and digital health is so much more.
Digital Health is where the real magic happens. Imagine being able to learn real-time concerns from your patients regarding medication side-effects, health concerns, and success stories. Imagine being able to share your thoughts on issues such as gun safety, nutrition and vaccinations in a way that informs and educates. Imagine being able to use your voice to educate and to dispel some of the false information currently in circulation on the internet. Imagine that you now have the ability to share your knowledge with many patients at once, instead of having the same conversation 10 times in one day. This connection has the dual benefit of saving you time and empowering your patients to make informed decisions.
Connection. Engagement. Education.
That is the power of digital health in your practice.