Healthcare has traditionally relied upon Referral marketing which means that any doctor or hospital would approach other doctors, clinics or smaller hospitals and would seek patients from them. There is nothing wrong in referral marketing but over a period of time money started exchanging hands in lieu of the patients being referred. This gave rise to a breed of hospitals who would offer as much as 30-40% commissions to the referring doctors. This money is then recovered from the patient who has been referred. Hospitals with little facilities would seek patients from clinics and then would charge the patients almost as much amount as a super specialty hospital.
Another traditional healthcare marketing tool has been organizing outreach clinics at distant places. Super specialty hospitals in metro towns would tie-up with smaller hospitals in B and C Grade cities and send their doctors to these places for organizing OPD services. Patients requiring higher level of treatment would then be brought to their superspecialty hospital for further treatment. This has been an ethical practice so far and there are no commissions in this kind of marketing. Both the sets of hospitals benefit by this and so do the patients who get the services of super specialist doctors closer to home and have to travel to far off places only in some cases.
Hospitals have been organizing Free Health Checkup Camps for ages now. Sometimes these camps are organized at the hospital premises and sometimes in the residential areas where the patients can come for a basic checkup. Very little services can be provided at these free camps due to the cost constraints and also due to the lack of physical infrastructure outside the hospital. The idea behind these camps is to find out patients who have been ignorant about their disease or who are scared to go to a hospital. Over time these camps have lost their efficacy and now only very poor people flock to these camps who would not be in a position to afford the treatment at these hospitals.
With the spread of internet and smartphones every industry has moved to e-commerce platform. Services like hotels, retail, travel bookings are virtually being done online. Healthcare is also not untouched by this changing customer behaviour. Most of the educated people now search for doctors, treatments and hospitals on their smartphones. Those hospitals which are not present in this medium are losing out to a lot of potential customers. Having a well designed informative website is now not a matter of choice for any hospital in the country. Just having the website is not going to be sufficient. The patients approaching the hospital through the digital medium need to get prompt response.
From politics to films everybody is riding high on the social media. Healthcare cannot afford to stay behind in these changed times. Every hospital needs to have an online marketing team which is promoting the hospital's services, treatments and doctors through the social media on a daily basis. Social media can be a very dangerous platform if the team managing this is not trained and knowledgeable enought to create the right content. One wrong tweet or one inappropriate post can damage the hospital brand to a very large extent. Professional healthcare marketing professionals should be in place for handling the digital marketing activities.
Till a few years ago the high resolution videos need to be converted to a lower resolution before uploading on youtube or facebook because of the slow internet speeds. Now with 4G spreading its wings in the country through JIO Dhan Dhana Dhan and 5G waiting in the wings, video marketing is going to emerge as one of the most potent marketing tool for healthcare. Just like social media marketing, the video marketing must also be done with great care in terms of the content and presentation. Only professionals who have mastered the art of creating videos need to be hired for this purpose. Market research should determine as to what the patients would like to see in these videos.