Healthcare marketers have spent much of the past 10 years improving their ability to understand the customer through the customization of their products and services. But healthcare will be shifting away from hospitals and doctors’ offices through 2020 and will be “going home with the patient” with the goal of the patient being personally responsible for becoming healthy and continuing in a changed lifestyle.

How does that affect healthcare marketing now and in the future? We’ve looked at current research and discussed this with colleagues. Here are four predictions to pay attention to:

1. Integrated Patient Experiences

Technology is making it possible for providers to integrate all aspects of a patient’s care into a unified, holistic experience. Marketing must adopt the same approach. The top marketing channels will be those that lend themselves to integrating the patient/client experience, including social media, the web, mobile apps, and the mobile web. These channels give healthcare marketers the knowledge about their customers that enables them to take direct action to boost engagement with their patients/clients. Greater patient engagement leads to higher patient satisfaction, which is a key factor in providers’ quality scores. And in the new reality, quality=increased revenue from Medicare, Medicaid and insurer-payers.

2. Knowledge Sharing

One of the best ways for healthcare organizations to build relationships with their audiences is by offering programs and content that help educate them. It’s about educating, managing and sharing vs. controlling the flow of information. Healthcare organizations in today’s world (and in the future) need to adopt an educational approach based on topics (including company insights) that are important to their consumers.

3. Authenticity & Transparency 

Does someone from your healthcare organization actively participate in creating and managing content or do you use outside resources to be the creative thinker behind all your content and its delivery? Today’s consumers want to know the real “you,” which means you have to be collaborative with a trusted content writer. Your future success and competitive advantage will be challenged if your consumers perceive you as anything less than authentic or transparent in your content and messaging.

4. Expert Partners vs. Big Agency

Rather than retaining an agency for their healthcare organization’s advertising, PR or marketing needs, the trend we’re seeing now is to partner with “Specialized Experts” based on needs and goals. While industry-specific knowledge and experience will always be critical, specific skills and “media agility” are also necessary. We believe the future will be more about partnerships based on skills and needs vs. hiring a big agency.

The future healthcare marketing model relies on a deep understanding of a patient’s environment to create personalized, relevant content and messaging. Are you prepared to meet the challenge?