Steven Topper

Director, Marketing Technology Strategy, Merkle

crm loyalty, health wellness

While the complexity of marketing technology is increasing exponentially across industries, the healthcare space is arguably the most challenging. In this article, we discuss the factors that make this the case and what healthcare marketers should consider when making martech decisions.

Understanding The Customer

The customer-side is complex. Yes, there are patients, but patients may not be the ones who set up appointments or pay bills. This may be the responsibility of the caregiver or the power of attorney for a parent, child or even an injured party. The complexities of the customer-side may not stop there. Those are just the end-customers. There are also customers who are intermediaries, who are on the health or professional side of the equation. This could be the HCP, a group of health care professionals including the family doctor or  specialist, a nurse, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, pharmacist or another medical or clinical resource. Customers may also include payers (insurers), government agencies or even a provider network.

So, when considering who the “customer” is, even before starting to build personas, segmenting and building audiences, there are really multiple groups with a broad range of influences and responsibilities to consider.  You may not just be engaging in dialogue with each of these groups, but if you’re doing things right, you are taking advantage of pull-through strategies where you are moving all of these groups towards the same goal. This of course, is being done while delivering a variety of synergistic messages while leveraging different yet complimentary creative, channels, tactics, frequency and cadence, to ensure a cohesive approach that delivers a superior customer experience.

Knowing Non-Customer Considerations

On the marketing technology side of the equation, there are further complexities to consider that stem from the following factors:

  • The complexity of the MarTech ecosystem and the 8,000+ solutions healthcare marketers have to choose
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance, specifically ensuring patients’ health data, such as protected health information (PHI), is cared for properly
  • Data protection and privacy compliance and ensuring that we are following guidelines that go beyond HIPAA, acknowledging broader legislation such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the newly announced Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA) and the others that will likely follow
  • Data sensitivity as it relates to retaining the balance of power we may have with data, but balancing that with when to use it, when we should use it and will our patients be comfortable with chosen applications in accordance with applicable law.
  • Data usage and whether it is used for informational purposes, for specific application to a marketing campaign for targeting and messaging, or if the data is to be made accessible to a patient or customer.

Another consideration is whether your marketing and operations are allowed to run separately, or should they be integrated in some way, either loosely coupled or tightly connected.  The answer to this question will heavily inform your architecture, system design and how you deploy solutions. It may also determine whether you build or buy those solutions.  There are capabilities and processes you can do on the operations side that you may be restricted from doing on the marketing side, especially from a data perspective.

Once things have been built and deployed, data governance becomes critical. The data context can change and take on many alternate forms, but the right teams need to be involved to inform data relevance after it’s been collected, created, and stored. Post data-capture, its relevance needs to inform governance strategy. Some considerations to analyze with your teams could be:

  • Which systems can the data be sent/not sent to?
  • Is the data for informational purpose?
  • Will it be used for marketing/re-marketing?
  • Will it inform operations?
  • Is there extensive planned analytic-modeling?
  • Will the data be sent outside of the system to other HCPs?
  • Will it inform development of customer-facing applications such as targeting and messaging?

Getting to Real-time Measurement

For most companies, real-time measurement is an aspiration and not a reality. While a lot of marketing technologies today are supporting a couple of use cases where real-time data integrations are driving real-time customer and patient experiences, it is not a broadly available offering. To this end, some considerations include making some choices relative to where you want to be real-time, where you want to be today, and where you can differ for 3 years.  Within this context there is a need to identify those relevant use cases that will have an immediate impact on patients’ lives and where real-time or near real-time marketing will help.

When you look at your strategic technology roadmap, you want to align with your own teams that when thinking of buying, building or deploying a particular technology, the organization can act on it, and “operations can operate on it.” You don’t want to invest in something if you can pre-determine that you won’t even be able to use or leverage it effectively.  It is critical to ensure that it creates an improved Patient Experience (PX), fits into the operating model, and supports the specific use cases that will drive optimal PX.

Providing an exceptional patient experience is critical as patients already have enough to worry about. Enabling that experience requires marketing technology that works cohesively and data that is accessible to healthcare marketers. This can be a daunting task, even if you are doing it right. If you are not doing it right, you may never achieve what you are striving for. You need the right tools to ensure that data is being integrated correctly, and shared at the right time with the right people. To do this correctly, there are some considerations to focus on before making MarTech decisions:

  • Your business model and goals
  • Your operating model
  • The definitions and relationships of your customer base
  • Considerations on how compliance constrains and impacts your go-to-market model
  • How you will measure

If you can get this right from the start, and before you begin making technology and data decisions, it may likely provide your organization with competitive advantages including speed-to-market on new capabilities, shorter deployment timelines, faster realization to ROI, higher adoption from healthcare marketers, and an increased level of brand perception coming from new experiences delivered better and faster.

Speak with our dentsu Health consulting team to determine which marketing technologies are right for your business goals. Learn more about dentsu Health>