Unique Obstacles in Healthcare Marketing: Interdepartmental Communication
Various trades or services that exist have their own terms, rules, and ideas that revolve around them. It’s why you don’t expect a marketer to perform a surgery. That’s why most doctors don’t have time or the knowhow to market their own location outside of basic instruction on Google. It is a good thing because when people specialize, they can devote their production and time to benefit society. However, there can be the occasional disadvantage when two different specializations try to work together.
When someone has spent enough time in a career, they are more likely to think with a narrow mindset. They are so focused on their own standards, jargon, and expectations of behavior that there is almost a language barrier between doctors, and other healthcare professionals and marketers. Heck, this disconnect can happen between doctors and patients. So, we are going to address these unique challenges in Healthcare Marketing.
The Public Perception of Marketers
When someone hears the word marketer, there are usually two types of imagery that come to mind at first glance. The first is something along the lines of Christian Bale and a group of business partners talking about business cards in American Psycho. The other image is that of a sleazy “used car salesman” who is responsible for 80% of ads for viagra all over the webpage with a news article. We are either an evil cabal of people in suits or the reason no one can trust the internet anymore.
And the reaction is understandable. No one wants to think that they can be persuaded or manipulated into doing anything. Especially in the US when a lot of its citizens tend to value individual freedoms.
However, it is a very limited understanding of what marketing is, and what it can be used for.
But that isn’t exactly what we are, or even the scope of what marketing is. For most people, marketing is about expanding communication to make sales. We try to put the right thing, in front of the right person, in the right place at the right time. We put communication, shopping trends, and the needs of a group of people under a microscope, just so people can know what is there. And if we make money doing it, then everyone gets what they want.
There are just as many ethical, as there are unethical people in our trade. And the unethical ones tend to make promises they can’t keep. The good ones will find why people aren’t appearing, offer suggestions and assistance to get people to appear and push those businesses into the direction that will get them more customers.
The Public Perception of Doctors
When people mention doctors in general, the consensus is a little more mixed. It is an old profession that has a reputation among some people as someone who you absolutely listen to no matter what. Others think they are people we cannot afford and are an absolutely last resort. Some patients tend to see them as absent figures who look over a chart once and let the RN’s do all the work or another symptom of a very broken healthcare system.
What they all agree on is that doctors, for the most part, are silent. Silent about their thought process. This leaves patients in the dark about their own health, and that impression can at times breed either respect for the silent expert, or resentment from people who think their health is on the line.
And that resentment can come in the form of serious mistrust where there should not be any. The anti-vaccine/essential oils movement is proof of that mistrust.
But people, including marketers, who are also patients, tend to forget that doctors are people too. They have their own biases, flaws, virtues, limitations, and department woes. Most of them do the best they can with what they have and constantly have to deal with people at their most vulnerable/insecure.
So what can Marketers and Doctors do to get their clinics off the ground?
Doctors and Marketers Working Together in Healthcare Marketing
The answer, like in most things, is the sharing of information between departments. I think most medical professionals suffer from a lack of communication because it is not what they are used to dealing with on a daily basis.
Marketers, while we are experts at communicating, are not exactly medical experts. Especially when it comes to policies and the science behind healthcare.
If doctors are willing to share their processes, their goals for their business and marketers are willing to be their mouthpiece, healthcare marketing can achieve great things. It will be uncomfortable. We might even hear things that we do not want to admit.
But if we can work together , we can achieve amazing results.