More than ever before, healthcare businesses face numerous challenges as they seek to provide customers with a high level of care whilst ensuring their operations stay profitable. Providers need a way to communicate medical advances and improvements to services whilst managing growing demand from patients.
So, how can the healthcare industry, with its increasing focus on telemedicine, be communicated? Moreover, how can it be done in a way that ensures customers are familiar with what’s being offered and understand how best to take advantage of these innovations?
Escalating service provision meets rising demand for distributed care & consultation
In Bain’s 2019 Asia-Pacific Front Line of Healthcare survey, nearly 50% of patients said that they expect to use digital health tools in the next five years. Meanwhile, 91% of consumers said they would use digital health services if the costs were covered by an employer or insurance provider. This survey was conducted before the operational impact of Covid forced the industry to adapt to remote delivery of patient services.
It’s estimated that the global telehealth market will reach USD$19.5 billion by 2025. Digital health platforms in the Philippines are reporting a surge of activity, too. AIDE, a mobile app marketplace that connects patients with doctors, reported that daily home medical requests grew 300% with an average 200 per day since the onset of the pandemic. Medgate Philippines, a telemedicine pioneer in the country, saw a 170% jump in the usage of their services, which led to a total patient base of 1.5 million. KonsultaMD, a 24/7 health hot-line service manned by skilled and licensed Filipino doctors boasts more than 1.5 million paying subscribers.
Challenges in regulatory compliance, data protection, and adapting to this fast-changing world
Beyond the ability to scale the operational bandwidth of platforms to serve patient needs, the telehealth industry is facing challenges on the regulation side. As current regulation has not yet been reorientated enough to protect the health-tech ecosystem – largely a result of massive changes through Covid forcing a need to adapt almost overnight – there is increasing focus on the importance of communication aspects.
In reality, this means global players, new entrants and even current existing players in the industry will need the strategic support of an experienced partner in navigating the complexity of these issues with solid insights on how to effectively reach potential customers. Apart from meeting growing demand for services, there is massive competition, so providers need to be able to conduct advocacy activities to get buy-in from relevant stakeholders and achieve strong benefit communication.
Information security and personal privacy are also key issues. In Europe, the distribution of patient data among digital services seeking greater interconnection and access has already raised alarm bells. Disputes that may be increased as a result of the increased prominence of telehealth services represent a risk gap. At this stage, the infrastructure needs of hospitals, such as for system integration/data migration and information security are very strong. The increasing need to be able to support patients with chronic diseases, the demand for mental health treatments and so forth indicate huge potential in Telehealth, but operators must be able to deliver whilst responding to newly shifting regulatory frameworks; and this is doubly complicated for international care providers responding to local implications whilst adapting to the potential of newly integrated digital platforms.
Together with PROI Worldwide healthcare communicators, PR firms have been learning alongside industry experts and helping them navigate and communicate complex health issues and technology solutions for the medical industry. “First, we identify what customer reservations may stand in the way of patient uptake; next it’s about connecting with those targets and demonstrating how the client’s business is able to support them in daily life, protecting their ongoing wellness and peace of mind, and not just being a number to call on when they’re ill,” said According to Karin Lohitnavy, Founder and Master Connector of Midas PR.
PR firms help telehealth adoption by increasing visibility and positive publicity, building and maintaining the great reputation of the provider, introducing campaigns and responding to macro happenings which prompt public concern and a desire for change. Social media, webinars, media engagement, influencer & content marketing, and traditional tactical implementation all support a wider program of strategic awareness-building, thereby furthering the societally positive agenda of the sector’s growth area in respect of telehealth.
Karin concludes, “In addition to sector-specific communications support, our PR partners contribute to encouraging positive behaviors among the public, and thus promoting health awareness generally.” Therefore, beyond simply growing publicity, agencies empower organizations to help them connect with their community and be powerful champions for change.
Standing out in the competitive healthcare landscape and building a trusted brand reputation requires consistent, strategic, effective public relations and careful communications of the key patient benefits for Telehealth. As a result of this, a more connected future will emerge that delivers better customer experiences, more valuable insights, and more effective provision of patient care.