It feels like we’ve been waiting for 2021 for a long time but, now that it’s here, it’s worth thinking about the marketing trends we’ll see over the next 12 months in the healthcare space.

The overall message? Digital transformation is no longer optional. Healthcare organisations must accelerate the adoption of digital tools and strategies to remain visible in 2021.

1. Telehealth is here to stay – learn how to do it well

COVID-19 necessitated widespread adoption of telehealth in Australia, with health minister Greg Hunt stating that one of the few good things to come out of the pandemic is that ‘we have skipped a decade and jumped from 2030 to 2020 for the delivery of telehealth for all Australians’.

Like many practices, yours probably rapidly introduced a telehealth service in the early days of the pandemic to safeguard doctors while maintaining patient care. It was a hastily introduced service during a time of high stress as you adjusted to a global healthcare emergency.

Now, in 2021, it’s time to go back and revisit your telehealth set up. By late November, Australian doctors had conducted over 40 million telehealth consultations. A percentage of those are yours. It’s time to reflect on what you’ve learned and ensure your telehealth service is properly established as a mainstream service.

That means you need to consider how to:

  • Make the most of telehealth’s opportunities while minimising medico-legal risks
  • Integrate your telehealth service into your routine practice management systems
  • Leverage telehealth to create a better work-life balance through remote working, a higher throughput of patients and more control over your schedule
  • Ensure patients have a positive experience of telehealth.

Modern Healthcare warns that health systems that lack telemedicine access are about to start seeing decreased patient volumes as people vote with their smartphone and choose providers that do offer telehealth.

So, if you offer telehealth, make sure people know about it! This is an attractive service that should feature in your practice’s social media marketing, website and in-clinic posters so that you can attract and retain patients.

If you’re a GP who’d like to learn how to run an effective, integrated telehealth service that improves patient access and boosts practice sustainability then we encourage you to register for Telehealth Mastery Foundation Activity, our accredited telehealth course run in conjunction with Phenix Health.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Use telehealth technology to provide more efficient access and appropriate systems for patients when referring to specialists and allied health professionals.
  • Implement an efficient and cost-effective telehealth service within practice workflow.
  • Identify the different financial billing models for telehealth (Medicare and private).
  • Engage the clinic team.
  • Identify and manage potential risks relating to telehealth.

On top of all that, you’ll also earn 40 CPD points from the RACGP and 6 PDPs with ACRRM.

2. Digital communications will ramp up

Many practices truly realised the importance of digital communications in 2020 but these will ramp up in 2021.

Virtual medical conferences will become more mainstream, offering a way to learn and connect without the expense or risk of travel in a world still overshadowed by the pandemic.

At a practice level, this means you might consider running educational webinars for certain patient groups. Many of our clients have begun doing this with pleasing results.

The trend towards empathetic rather than academic communication of healthcare messages is likely to continue as we reflect on the struggles of the last year. Many people were eager to boot 2020 into history and probably hoped the pandemic would go with it.

Though there’s encouraging news about vaccines, many Australians are now dealing with the unexpected sadness of cancelled Christmas holiday plans as clusters erupted in key cities and state borders closed once more, cutting them off from much-loved family members in other states. Writing with empathy helps people relate to you and hear your message.

Get to know Google Business Profile too. It’s vital for local SEO (‘Siri, find a GP near me’). It’s also a great tool where you can quickly and easily update your closure details if there’s a COVID-19 outbreak in your area.

2021 is also the year to pay close and regular attention to your website. Gone are the days of creating it and leaving it alone like a shop window that never changes its display. Your website is a dynamic tool that enables you to communicate key messages with your patients and add value through educational content in your blogs.

Take a moment to work out 12 topics you could write about that would address your patients’ needs then plan to write one a fortnight for the next 6 months. Check out our tips for content creation on a busy schedule and our copywriting tips.

You already have a very demanding job. If you know you’ll be too busy to do all this yourself, then please get in touch – we’d love to help you create engaging content that resonates with your readers.

3. Social media marketing will be increasingly popular

The popularity of social media marketing is on the rise as healthcare professionals understand the strength of an online community surrounding their brand and the need to build a digital community.

Social media is the digital equivalent of the local market, office watercooler or town square. It’s where people go to learn what’s happening, share news, and – increasingly – to purchase right there and then without leaving the platform.

The exhausting number of social media platforms means you can’t possibly have a presence on all of them. You don’t need to anyway. You should choose the social media channels that large numbers of your patients are likely to be on (here’s our guide) so that you can get your message in front of them.

As well as sharing your own content on social media (which will hopefully generate clicks, likes and shares), you may also benefit from running some Facebook Ads. Social ads are proving increasingly popular and useful now you can geo-target them for the suburbs surrounding your practice.

4. Business-savvy practice owners will do well

If you want to help your practice thrive in 2021, you’ll need to become more business savvy.

While you’ve been trained to practice evidence-based medicine, you’ve probably had far less guidance about the best business practices for running your clinic.

Check out our blog on Evolving into a business-led general practice which includes 8 key tips to change your mindset, work on your business as well as in it, and grasp how running a successful business contributes to good patient care.

5. You’ll be (a) KOOL

2021 is your year to shine.

As a qualified healthcare professional, you’re ideally placed to become a Key Online Opinion Leader (KOOL).

After controversies surrounding cancer-fraud Belle Gibson and the pseudoscientific ideas of celebrity chef, Pete Evans, people have become savvier about online health information. They’re more likely to ask who is behind it and what qualifications they have.

Google likes to know this too, looking for your expertise, authority and trust, which is why you should always include your bio and qualifications at the end of each blog post.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals have always held a position of trust within the community. That trust has grown during COVID-19. Take that as an encouragement to produce and share high-quality content that addresses common patient concerns.

6. Health tech is about to explode

When you watch reruns of an old TV series, even one that aired only a few years ago, it’s clear every character is wearing what now looks like ancient technology – an analogue or digital watch. These days, most of us are sporting fitness trackers or smartwatches that monitor heart rate, step count and steam music, to name just a few features.

Health tech is about to revolutionise patient care as wearable devices that allow remote patient monitoring go mainstream.

A wonderful trinity is emerging:

  1. People are increasingly opting for smart technology in daily life, building confidence and enjoyment in its use
  2. Telehealth is now mainstream, giving access to remote healthcare
  3. Remote monitoring devices are poised to expand into this very receptive market.

The end result will be a new type of healthcare, bringing considerable benefits for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

Of course, there will be wildcards in 2021 (though hopefully not as shocking as 2020’s!). Knowing these 6 marketing trends should help you position your healthcare practice to do well this year.

Next Steps

If you need help, Splice Marketing is always here. Please contact us about any of your marketing questions.