Marketing techniques and trends enable health care organizations (HCOs) to effectively compete in an ever-changing health care environment by continuously finding ways to best meet consumer demands. As a result, patients now have more options as to type of product or service, price and the setting or place where this is offered or performed (Berkowitz, 2011). With the use of marketing techniques, HCOs also have a greater tendency to comply with regulatory measures, adhere to standards and meet benchmarks as well as quality indicators as doing so gives them a competitive advantage. Consumer satisfaction, and thus quality care, has also become a central consideration in service innovation and development. However, not only do consumers influence a marketing strategy but they are also influenced by it and there is an impact on health care workers as well.
Current marketing techniques affect consumer trends in that media and print advertisements create demand for products and services by conveying how these can successfully fulfill people’s needs and wants (Berkowitz, 2011). For example, the urgent care services franchise Doctors Express uses the lines “Who needs a doctor now?,” “The doctor is in” and “Urgent care when you need it” which convey the message that you can have access to health care services beyond the normal office hours and even on weekends without going through the emergency room where you often have to endure long waiting times. You are also assured that a physician is able to see you even without an appointment. The convenience, quality and availability of services associated with urgent care, as emphasized in the ads, has shaped people’s preferences towards greater utilization of this type of care within the past five years creating a niche for it in the market.
Today’s marketing techniques and trends both have positive and negative impacts on health care workers. On the positive side, there is a greater demand for the various skills that is provided by health care professionals which helps increase their bottom line as in the case of an urgent care facility or a provider of home care nursing services. In addition, marketing techniques can dispel misconceptions and clarify stereotypes about health care professions and help improve their public image such as when family nursing practice ads portray nursing as an independent caring profession contrary to the perception that nurses are doctors’ handmaidens. A positive image compounded with increased visibility in marketing campaigns can potentially attract more people to pursue careers in nursing or health care.
On the negative side, marketing techniques and trends can adversely affect the relationship between health care professionals and patients. Such relationships are founded on trust and rapport and enable an effective rendering of services. The participation of health care workers in the advertising and marketing of health care products can potentially reduce patient trust when the latter perceive that health care decisions are influenced by such participation. This issue commonly arises with decisions concerning pharmacologic therapy. Pharmaceutical companies commonly conduct marketing by giving gifts, free samples or meals. If the public is of the opinion that such tokens result in more prescriptions of the drug being marketed regardless of the patients’ best interests as consumers, public distrust of health care professionals is expected to ensue. This can lead to lower patient satisfaction with services and less than optimal health outcomes as patients seek alternatives to conventional health care.
Berkowitz, E.N. (2011). Essentials of Health Care Marketing (3rd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.