Healthcare Marketing Often Ignores Its Most Rewarding Channel - Patients!

Holding a Bachelors ­ General Laws degree from Government Law College, Mumbai and Diploma ­ Business Management from Welingkar Institute of Management, Development & Research, Mumbai, Yogesh has over 21 years of marketing industry experience, which has enabled him to craft efficient marketing strategies.

Healthcare marketing goes way beyond selling a service or a therapy; it's about raising awareness and motivating consumers to be proactive in improving their health. Healthcare is a noble field which enables people even with serious health conditions to live a normal, happy life. But when it comes to marketing, the healthcare industry faces a lot of restrictions and regulations regarding what kind of services we can advertise and the kind of messages we can put forth. In such a scenario, we need to carefully analyze the roles that healthcare marketing plays with regards to the general populace.

Medicine is a field where new research is always emerging and new knowledge opens-up possibilities which were previously never thought of. However, without rigorous research, it can be difficult to predict the long-term or unintended consequences of a particular treatment or lifestyle advice. In such a case, it becomes vital to convey the right message clearly. The question arises, `Should healthcare providers market their services to consumers?' In my opinion, the answer is an obvious YES for a number of reasons. Firstly, the services offered by all healthcare providers are broadly the same. Marketing helps in making people aware about a particular healthcare organization and its services, which helps sustain the organization as a business. More importantly, healthcare marketing helps raise awareness about the various diseases and disorders that people are affected by. Awareness campaigns have played a huge part in the past few decades to make people take notice and seek cures for killer diseases like AIDS and cancer.

Healthcare has moved beyond just prescribing medicines; it now involves building a relationship with the patients where we understand the person's diseases and the factors causing it to provide customized therapies

Nowadays, the sedentary life-styles which are prevalent have led to an epidemic of chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Marketing helps healthcare providers get in touch with affected patients and guide them towards good health by helping them with goal setting and motivation. Healthcare has moved beyond just prescribing medicines; it now involves building a relation-ship with the patients where we understand the person's diseases and the factors causing it to provide customized therapies.

Despite the multitude of mediums and massive budgets available today to reach consumers, the most effective way to drive acceptance with consumers is still word-of-mouth publicity. For any kind of marketing to be successful, the strengths of the product need to be clearly evident. In healthcare marketing, there is no better evidence of the effectiveness of your services than a patient who was suffering, but now has a significantly better quality of life. When people see a regular person who, with the right guidance and medical support, has steered his/her health back into wellbeing, the person is elevated to the status of a role model. They give others a sense of empowerment, and this kind of positive motivation can be life-changing in several cases.

At Madhavbaug, we have witnessed the positive impact of these success stories first-hand at our `Rog Mukti Sohala' and `Hardik' events. We have been organizing monthly Hardik events for the purpose of providing a support group to our patients where they can meet others going through similar health journeys. The response we have seen from patients has been tremendously encouraging, as they are eager to tell others about the progress they have made in improving their health and also give or get advice on how to manage their issues effectively. We also share video recordings of their speech to the speaker so that the reach of their motivational experience can go even beyond the Hardik get-together.

The biggest motivating factor for many patients has been our RogMuktiSohala events. These are special tri-annual functions where we felicitate the remarkable people who have successfully managed to reverse their condition, thanks to a combination of our well-researched treatment methods and lifestyle changes pertaining to diet and exercise. One unforgettable incident that I vividly remember is from our `Sohala Madhumeha Mukticha (Celebrating Freedom from Diabetes)' where we invited a woman on stage to felicitate her with a gold medal for successful diabetes reversal. Her entire family joined her on stage and they celebrated by treating her to her favourite sweet - jalebi, something that no one in her family thought she would ever be able to taste again. This genuine moment was hugely motivating and awe-inspiring for everyone in the audience.

The internet has made every kind of information available at people's fingertips, which enables them to get detailed information about their diseases. Thanks to online platforms that encourage discussion, patients can share their experiences with other patients about hospitals, doctors and therapies. This helps people make informed choices about which treatment to seek and where to seek it. If a person is convinced about the efficacy of a treatment, it can be a huge motivating factor for them in taking a stand to improve their health. In this respect, online platforms act as digital counterparts to our Hardik events.

Illness is not a subject that people openly talk about and as a result, they may end-up suffering in silence. Marketing enables us reach-out to these people and show them that they are not alone in their struggle against disease. When we present to them a role model and it ignites a spark within them to take charge of their health, then we can say that the marketing efforts have been successful. Healthcare marketing is no longer about selling a service or a therapy, it's about raising awareness and motivating consumers to be proactive in improving their health. Marketing in this manner is ethical and it acts as a catalyst for improving the overall health of a society.