Inc. – HealthCare Marketing Is About to Get Disrupted

As published on Inc. by Jonathan Lacoste based on my interview with Jonathan

Mayur Gupta heads up digital and omnichannel marketing for Healthgrades. I sat down with him to talk about why the health care industry is about to undergo a major shift in marketing.

What does health care marketing look like right now?

It’s a vertical just beginning to realize the potential that technology and data and experiences is going to bring. It has to be about health care in a digital world. It’s like the evolution of marketing in general: We all matured and realized that you had to be marketing in a digital world.

We’ve been saying health care for the first time has the consumer at the center and not the physician. It’s about convenience and experience. We’re starting to see the value of behavioral data and socioeconomic data, not just clinical data. The incentivization model has changed. The hospitals will be incentivized–it’s not about more patients, more often, for more treatment. Now with Obamacare, the incentive model is saying you’ve got to keep a certain population healthy. The less frequently they come, the better for you. How do you influence someone’s behavior, how do you shift thinking about the role of marketing from pamphlets to an always-on system of engagement?

How do you think wearable tech will shape health care marketing?

It’s fascinating to see how people are starting to tap into strategic partnerships. Everyone is diving into health, and the underlying premise is tapping into behavior wearables and connected devices. We are getting smarter as an industry with the application of tech to change consumer behavior and solve business problems. Health care is going to be a beneficiary of that thinking.

How have consumers driven change in health care marketing?

I think the consumer has now become more health conscious. For the first time, we have an owner of health, the consumer. Also, more and more insurance costs are moving to the consumer, and the networks are becoming narrower. On the one hand, we’re taking away choice, and on the other we’re making her pay more. That has caused her to be more active and to make data-driven decisions, finding a physician in the same way as shopping for airline tickets or a villa on vacation. Why not find the best hospital and doctor in that five-mile radius? She is now bringing that same mindset into how she chooses her health care partner.

Where do you think the industry is lagging?

That’s where you start to hear about lifetime value management for the first time, not just acquisition. It’s the role that marketing and hospitals have to play when the patient leaves the hospital. There is no guarantee that the patient is going to come back–loyalty has been redefined. Now you can find another doctor on your smartphone and make an appointment in minutes. That’s why hospitals are now becoming brand marketers. They have to become health influencers. The newer physicians are more adaptive in this way; they want to engage more because they don’t have a choice.

How do you think health care brands can use data to personalize experience and try to influence behavior on a one-to-one basis?

Fundamentally, I think health care is no different than other industries. In 12 months, everything applied in retail is going to be applied in health care. It will catch up. Industries get disrupted because consumers want change. In terms of personalization, I think we’re way beyond the traditional model of it by sending you an email based on your name and demographics. It’s understanding your online behavior: How do you communicate and engage? What drives you? That’s where there’s a challenge and an opportunity.

The opportunity for those thinking ahead is, how do you shift from a channel-specific experience to a data-driven and channel-agnostic experience? Your data is fragmented; your technology is fragmented. Then there are some fundamental pieces where you’re structured by channel; separate teams focused on different things. The opportunity is, how do you stitch that together at all those levels? The good thing is a lot of that innovation has already happened. A lot of DMPs are now solving the data fragmentation problem, connecting you as one human being across all devices. We’re now thinking about, how do we apply these technologies to solve human behavior?

The last piece is how you create an integrated plan. What is it that you want to solve to begin with? Then you think your channel mix. We often start with a channel budget, rather than with the consumer behavior. I think these challenges and opportunities are industry agnostic. Health care is starting to talk about that. People are already talking about omnichannel. There are leaders now who are SVP of digital in health care. They’re focusing on online and offline convergence.

As a consumer without behind-the-scenes knowledge, how will I see my health care provided and how will I interact with my provider in the next five to 10 years?

We often forget that the first smartphone was only launched in 2001, and the pace of innovation is only increasing. So let’s say five years from now, what can we imagine? All marketing will become algorithmic, to be quite honest, and the real value of data and insight will be through automating the communication. We see elements of that, but imagine the power. All marketing and engagement will become machine led. As a brand and as a marketer, it will be getting the consumer what she needs before she knows she needs it, which totally kills the path to purchase. If we still have a digital team in five years, we’re missing something, because that will be how you operate. I think digital sensors and information will become an implicit part of our lives.