6 Ways to Rethink Your Health Tech Marketing

When it comes to forward-thinking in healthcare, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that health technology companies are forging ahead while health systems rely on “how it’s always been done. Yet the presentations at this year’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference told a different story — highlighting how leading health systems are taking a page out of the big tech (think Amazon, Google, and Apple) playbook, evolving into hub-based models that rely on partnerships and platforms to better care for patients across the entire care continuum.

A Becker’s recap of health systems’ presence at the conference summarized this latest phenomenon:

“[Health systems] are moving from a traditional strategy of buying and building hospitals and simply providing care into a new and more dynamic strategy that focuses on leveraging the platform they have in place to create more value and growth via new and often more profitable streams of revenue. Simply put, healthcare delivery systems of today will increasingly leverage the platform and resources that they have in place to become a hub for both health and healthcare in the future.”

The real question is: How can health tech respond to the continued rise of the platform model among health systems and big tech companies? To thrive in the new year, health tech marketers should rethink their marketing strategy in six distinct ways:

If you claim you’re a platform, show its value.

Yes, the health tech industry is exhausted with point solutions. If you think that you have the next big health tech “platform,” join the club – so do all of your competitors. In the age of the cloud and SaaS, there are few companies not creating a platform solution. And as evidenced by the Becker’s piece, health systems are describing themselves as platforms as well. So drop the idea that your platform is a differentiator, or even that it has meaning to your customer, and prove its value instead. Leading health tech companies will demonstrate how their solution connects into health systems’ environment, bringing together disparate pieces of information to deliver valuable solutions.

Evolve your value proposition to address affordability and cost reduction.

Federal requirements that require health systems to post prices for services online are just one example of the national demand for healthcare affordability and transparency, and many systems are ill-equipped to address this without investments in innovative health tech solutions. Health technology companies should leave behind vague superlatives about “better care,” and create a value proposition that hones in on the real financial challenges for their customers — and how they are uniquely equipped to address them.

Consider your role as a hub.

Does your product or solution promise to connect disparate systems, generate insights and patterns, and guide on best practice? Can you apply learnings from your clients real-time to drive maximum success? Health systems are seeking partners that are hubs and convening networks of different healthcare organizations, and therefore able to deliver continuous insight.

One of our clients, Teladoc Health, is a great example of this. Their virtual care platform leverages engagement science and learnings from work with thousands of health plans, employers, and health systems to recommend plan design and communication strategies that advance adoption. When defining a hub as a convener and connector of different customers, health tech companies are equipped to provide value to their customers as “hubs” in the same way as big tech.

Ditch the hype.

What was exciting a few years ago is now expected, and it’s no longer interesting to innovate just for the sake of innovation. Health systems are more explicit than ever that they’re only interested in innovating in pursuit of true business progress and ROI. The fact of the matter is: health tech is no longer an emerging space, but simply the fabric of healthcare operations and growth. For health tech marketers, this means dropping words like “transformation” and “disruption,” and honing in on the one thing that you do best in concrete, measurable language.

Pressure-test your differentiation.

With the recent funding bonanza (see Rock Health), more and more health tech companies are getting backing and recognition from VC and PE firms. New companies are coming out of the woodwork, with inevitable consolidation looming right around the corner. In this environment of abundance, the sheer existence of a new product or business model is no longer interesting; nor is the creation of a new category in the absence of customers and results. True differentiation means mapping to customers’ pressing business needs in a way no one else can, and focusing all your marketing communications strength on that narrative.

Don’t just assume that your buyers need you; prove it.

Health systems and plans are torn between partnering with health tech companies or building the tech infrastructure themselves. More and more systems are opting to create their own analytics capabilities or leverage their investment vehicles to incubate the right ideas. Health tech companies need to make sure they are clearly defining to their prospective buyers why their solution is superior to the increasingly popular DIY alternative. (We like to think we know your buying audience pretty well. Check out the findings of our hospital C-suite buyer research.)

We help companies large and small tackle these issues every day. If you'd like to chat about the topics covered here, send us a message — or we'd love to meet up at HIMSS.

January 29, 2019
The hospital C-suite is a complex target audience. Luckily, we've done our research:
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