6 Predictions That 2020 Will Be Phoenix-Like in Healthcare

As a new year approaches, it’s normal to wonder what’s coming. At ReviveHealth, that’s our everyday. We’re incessantly preoccupied with the state of healthcare and unceasingly driven to uncover what’s next.

The following are our industry predictions for 2020. Be forewarned: comfortable things are expiring, and new — and perhaps unnerving — things are ascending in healthcare marketing, virtual care, and social media. But we invite you to be excited, too, for all the incredible opportunity it promises: we are. To recycle an old proverb, without discomfort, there is no progress.

These are six of our predictions for healthcare from marketing mavens across the ReviveHealth roster. 

1. The fittest will survive in marketing/communications, says EVP & Chief Growth Officer Shannon Hooper

In short, says Shannon, 2020 will be a year of constructive collapsing and will usher in the decade of the phoenix — in marketing/communications as well as in healthcare.

In 2020, we’ll begin to see a new agency model emerge, one that is focused solely on business impact. The past few years have experienced a continued convergence of marketing, communications, and so-called “digital,” making it clear that it’s no longer effective to segment programs by channel. We’re seeing a collapsing of traditional agency structures and the expansion of accountabilities for corporate CMOs and CCOs as organizations demand and expect much more custom program development orchestrated around business goals. 
This introduces a new tension between the C-suite, marketing/communications teams, and the agencies who support them. Alignment across these groups on the same business objectives has been elusive in years past, but the collapse of traditional channel silos and the unification of the customer experience will be a forcing function to bring marketing and communications to the table for business strategy — putting immense pressure on all to focus on the business and leave past skillsets and preconceptions behind. 
The agencies who stay in an outdated, channel-centric mold are bound to fade away or remain hitched to the wagon of clients who won’t be relevant in five years. A new agency model, focused on growth and business impact, will rise from the ashes. 
2. There will be collapse and convergence in the digital health industry, giving rise to an evolved model of healthcare, says EVP & Chief Growth Officer Shannon Hooper

The 2000s saw the initial building blocks of tech-enabled care delivery and operational optimization. The 2010s demonstrated increased maturity of the digital health ecosystem, with numerous IPOs and a bonanza of venture funding. The 2020s will be the decade of the digital health phoenix. Dozens of platforms doing virtually the same thing will begin to collapse as winners rise to the top through scale and acquisition.
This melee will bring about an evolved model of healthcare, one that emerges from the refuse of discarded, redundant systems to put consumer experience and virtual channels at the forefront. It will be a decade-long journey, but we expect 2020 to begin ushering this in with increased M&A between health tech and services companies, and a continued blurring of the line between payers, providers, and tech-enabled partners through partnerships and vertical integrations. 

3. Health systems will heed the gospels of social and growth, says CEO Brandon Edwards

2020 will be the year that social accelerates with hospitals and health systems, and finally becomes the dominant marketing channel for top provider organizations nationwide. Social is the PERFECT channel for organizations that serve thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, and this will be the year the industry moves beyond its laggard status in this area.
The other trend we would point to is the rapidly accelerating hospital/health system focus on growth as the primary purpose of marketing. That’s why we are writing the Gospel of Growth as our next book, out in early 2020.     
4. There’s power for the taking in social intelligence, says VP of Content Stephanie Wierwille

With the enormous amount of data created in social media every day, conversations about health and healthcare are taking place across social platforms in ways they never have before. At HLTH 2019, Twitter’s Director of Client Solutions for Healthcare Lisa Bookwalter said, “Now is the most exciting time for healthcare. Health has always been something really private — but that has shifted. People are talking to people about it, putting it out there, and basing their identities on it.” Patients are finding others with their exact diagnosis through social media, and they’re connecting and sharing experiences. This leads to a key opportunity for healthcare organizations in 2020: Use social media as a focus group to constantly monitor how people are talking about your organization and specific health topics — and then make operational improvements, marketing plans, and patient-experience changes based on the learnings.
5. Online health communities are on the rise and so too are the opportunities to leverage them, says Senior Social Media Strategist Marisa DeArmas

As a platform, Facebook has shifted its focus away from mass conversations and toward Groups and 1:1 conversations. With over 1.4 billion people using Groups on Facebook — as well as those within communities through LinkedIn Groups, Reddit, and other social platforms — healthcare-focused groups have organically risen in the last few years. People participate in online communities around cancer survivorship, rare diseases, and more. The opportunities for healthcare organizations are significant:

  1. Consider leveraging social media for online health communities. Health systems and health tech companies alike have seen success with creating private/closed social communities — not focused on medical information, but instead on emotional support. There are certainly HIPAA considerations here — and it remains to be seen if online communities can improve outcomes — but we believe that this is an important area for healthcare organizations to explore because patients are forming communities themselves, often with misinformation.
  2. Influencers are no longer just for beauty brands. The healthcare industry has tip-toed into the influencer marketing space, from health systems leveraging lifestyle influencers to showcase service line experiences and increase brand preference through top-of-the-funnel advocacy, to B2B organizations working with healthcare experts and customers. Healthcare organizations should not minimize the impact of individual influencers — and this is a space that we’ll see expand in 2020.
  3. Physicians and HCPs are influencers, too. Healthcare professionals have a tremendous amount of influence IRL, and many are bringing that expertise to the digital world. With influencers like Nurse Blake, Esther Choo, MD, Ph.D, (emergency physician on Twitter) and Jennifer Anderson, MSPH, RDN, (nutritionist on Instagram) taking the reins, health systems and health tech companies will explore ways to elevate their own employees on social media in 2020. An added bonus: with so much health misinformation on social media, an influx of accurate information by HCPs would be welcome to users and platforms alike.

6. Patients are people too, which means human storytelling matters more than ever, says Social Media Strategist Jane Incao 

Patients are people — and it’s no secret that social media is centered around people and their stories. From reconnecting with old friends to sharing viral videos, social media has the ability to connect people in ways never seen before. Health systems and health tech companies are not exempt from this trend. Storytelling is an essential part of health, and it’s time for patient stories to be told in a way that resonates with people on social media. We’ll see healthcare organizations begin to use innovative social media formats like Instagram Stories and video to create a sharable experience that illustrates the humanity of patients and connects communities to the brand.

No industry more powerfully impacts our lives than healthcare, yet few offer greater opportunity to transform the ways it engages its audiences, and we think 2020 will exemplify this dramatically. Passé ways of framing and executing marketing/communications will recede as cross-team collaborations focused on business impact will rise. And the forces behind this change – namely, technological advancement and the customer’s ever-higher expectations for every brand interaction – will also propel others: greater tech-enabled care delivery, the integration of health tech and services companies, the acceleration of online communities of healthcare consumers, and new social engagement opportunities for those who want to serve them better. And in the midst of such disruption and upsurge comes affirmation that one thing remains the same: connection through storytelling. 

We at ReviveHealth wish all of you much success in the coming year!

December 20, 2019
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