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11 healthcare marketing trends in 2024: Digital first

In the face of an uncertain economy, independent healthcare practices must find new ways to attract and retain patients. Here are 8 marketing trends that will help you succeed.

woman reading about healthcare marketing trends

At a Glance

  • The future of the healthcare industry is more unstable than ever
  • Marketing must focus on the digital patient journey and the digital patient experience
  • Reviews are critical — and privacy is even more so

Independent medical groups are facing unprecedented headwinds in 2024. The healthcare landscape is undergoing seismic shifts — such as investor groups snapping up healthcare practices. To maintain their independence and grow patient revenue, many practices are rethinking their approach to patient engagement.

There’s nothing revolutionary among these 2024 healthcare marketing trends. What’s new is the urgency with which medical groups and primary care practices must not only take them into consideration, but also act on as many as possible.

The patient is in the driver’s seat. The one thing these trends have in common is enhancing the patient experience and building that all-important doctor-patient relationship that patients demand.

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11 healthcare marketing trends to watch

Fortunately, healthcare technology is evolving and companies are emerging to support professionals with their digital marketing. In this article, we’ll look at 11 healthcare marketing trends that can improve the bottom line.

1. Modernizing the digital front door

In the competitive healthcare landscape, a practice must stand out from the crowd. That means it’s time to leave the mailers and paper marketing efforts behind and think digital first.

Most patients use the web to discover and research their healthcare providers. According to the Tebra Patient Perspectives survey, 3 in 4 patients have done so at least once. Particularly in the primary care market, the patient is expecting a modern-looking, easy-to-navigate website with clear, well-written explanations of available services, such as telemedicine; health insurance information; and profiles of healthcare professionals, including credentials and which hospitals they’re affiliated with.

Think of your website as a marketing tool. It should include lots of photos (custom, not stock) with alt-text describing them. A website should be formatted to be mobile-first, or at least mobile-friendly. It should load within 2 seconds and comply with accessibility requirements (i.e. text and background colors).Make it easy for patients to take the next step. Use calls to action (CTAs) to encourage patients to reach out and include easy-to-find contact information in the footer and on a contact page. Step up a notch with online scheduling.

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2. Putting the phone tree to work

As important as digital is, healthcare access still begins on the phone for some current and prospective patients, especially those without internet skills.

When was the last time you called your own office and listened to the phone tree? Was it confusing? How was the quality of the audio? Working with office and clinical staff, design a new flow chart. The goal is to route phone calls efficiently while also inserting relevant marketing messages that provide insight and assurance while a patient is on the line.

Bonus: A well-designed phone tree may enhance staff productivity as well.

3. Requesting patient reviews

As noted above, frequency and volume of reviews are a factor in search results. It may feel awkward for healthcare professionals to request patient reviews, but it’s important to build this into office routines.

More patient reviews can be acquired by:

  • Training and incentivizing staff to ask for them
  • Letting patients know their opinion matters
  • Making it easy for patients to leave reviews
  • Implementing an automated review request system

4. Boosting online search results

According to the Tebra Patient Perspectives survey, 3 out of 4 patients “search online for doctors, dentists, and medical care often or sometimes.” That means your practice lives or dies by its online presence. Enter the importance of search engine optimization, or SEO.

A recent change to SEO gives more localized results, even when the searcher doesn’t insert a geographic location. Google's data analytics rank pages according to proximity of the searcher, relevance to search terms (i.e., ob/gyn, internist), frequency and amount of reviews, and uniformity of address across websites.

Focusing on medical SEO makes you more likely to land on top of the search results page. Perform online searches using typical search terms for your specialty to see how you stack up.

5. Confirming listings in online business directories

This is a top trend in healthcare marketing that will continue. In order to make the most of these search directories, you need to claim your profiles and ensure all your information is accurate across directories.

For example, Google offers a free business profile that your practice can claim. People searching for your practice or one of your top-ranking keywords on Google Search or Maps can quickly view your profile. Adding information, photos, logos, links, and reviews will make it easier for patients to find you and bring legitimacy and appeal to your practice. (And don’t forget Facebook and Yelp.)For reviews to encourage a person to book an appointment, it’s vital that they be positive, recent, and numerous. Monitor your reviews regularly; it's part of reputation management. Send a quick thank you note for a positive notice. (That can amplify the benefits of the review — for anyone who reads it as well as that individual reviewer.) At the same time, don’t ignore bad reviews. They’re also highly visible. Respond quickly, and don't be defensive or give excuses.

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6. Use of patient portals effectively

Patient attrition rates have been high. More than a quarter of patients said they had left a health provider in the last few years. Most of them cited a lack of access and communication with their healthcare team and a poor in-person experience. Independent healthcare practices have an opportunity to win over patients from corporate healthcare and health systems by improving on these practices.

For routine matters, however, many people would rather deal with businesses digitally than in person or on the phone. It's one of the features of modern life. Make it possible for patients to set appointments online in the portal.

7. Promote your approach to modern healthcare

According to a Tebra survey, patients reported that (besides quality care) what they want most from their physicians are:

  • Available appointments when they need them
  • Prompt responses to questions
  • Good listening

Offering same-day or next-day appointments is a great strategy to compete with another health system. In addition, patients are looking for providers who keep up with current trends. These days, that means emphasizing such services as “personalized medicine” and “remote monitoring” to guide them on their healthcare journey.

8. Using a CRM to improve patient engagement

Keeping patients is at least as important to the growth of a practice as acquiring new ones. Between no-shows, patient attrition, and so-called “doctor dodgers,” there’s a lot of opportunity to re-engage lapsed patients.

CRM stands for “customer relationship management,” which is a fancy way of saying you’re managing your interactions with current and prospective patients in order to keep them engaged. Healthcare industry-specific CRM applications help provide a personalized patient experience by automating communications such as:

  • Reminders of appointments, vaccine schedules, and more
  • Emails about the importance of preventive screenings
  • Videos about new providers in the practice
  • Post-appointment surveys

The 2 most important things to do when re-engaging past patients are to understand their reasons for disengaging and have empathy. Patients stop going to the doctor for many reasons, ranging from transportation or childcare issues to a lack of funds and fear. Identify your patients' reasons and address them as best you can. Offer telehealth options when feasible for patients who can’t get time off work or struggle with transportation and childcare. 

9. Creating content, especially video

Besides populating your website with accurate and current information, contribute written articles on topics of interest to your target audience. Do you need to be an excellent writer or video producer to create this content? Not at all. There may already be someone on the staff with these skills, and freelance contributors are widely available.

Stay away from controversial topics, new or unproven treatments, or promotional material. Your content marketing should be helpful to patients on your website, but it may also help with …

10. Raising your public relations profile

Those doctors who commented on the pandemic on the TV news? Chances are a journalist found them while searching the web and finding a blog post or article.

Public relations — PR — gets a bad rap, but it’s one of the key healthcare marketing trends. Owned and earned media establishes credibility, helps you reach a wider audience, and boosts your reputation. At the same time, you’re providing accurate and valuable healthcare information across multiple channels.

There are websites on which journalists post inquiries about topics they’re writing about. Cultivate these relationships yourself or enlist the services of a publicist who already is plugged in. Your name may start popping up in the local paper, on TV news, or even a national publication.

11. Prioritize patient privacy

Patient privacy is and will continue to be one of the biggest marketing trends in healthcare. Despite the rise in digital communications and content, privacy is still an important concern for patients. With recent breaches of patient data, it may be on their minds now more than ever before. According to a recent survey, 75% of patients are concerned about protecting their personal health data.

To maintain HIPAA compliance, practices must protect the privacy, security, and integrity of protected health information. This includes any digital communications or marketing materials. Ensure you never reveal any patient’s PHI without prior written consent.

Follow these tips to improve website security:

  • Purchase a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate if one does not come with your hosting package. SSL improves website security using encryption, ensuring third parties can’t view or modify secure information. 
  • Ensure your website hosting provider is HIPAA-compliant — not all are.
  • Don’t send PHI through email or public web forms. Ensure end-to-end encryption, even with your website forms.

Feeling overwhelmed by 2024 already? We don’t blame you. Health professionals didn’t spend 12 years in medical school to become marketing experts.

Like previous years, healthcare marketing will be distinctly digital in 2024. Now’s the time to focus on optimizing your online presence, enhancing the digital patient experience, and leveraging SEO to attract new patients. These aren’t just fleeting trends but fundamental shifts in the healthcare industry.

Embrace these strategies to meet evolving patient demands and needs.

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Written by

Rebecca Slawter, freelance healthcare writer

Rebecca Slawter is a seasoned freelance content and copywriter focusing on healthcare and B2B SaaS. Rebecca has first-hand knowledge of the importance of connections between patients and their providers — connections that are easier to build in independent practices. Her passion for writing about healthcare is rooted in wanting to spotlight healthcare professionals and their tireless efforts, and to do what she can to improve the industry as a whole.

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