5 Health Care Marketing Trends for 2024

By The SHSMD Team posted 10-31-2023 05:09 PM


Written by Katie Sorce, Marketing & Content Strategist, Smith & Jones 

2024 is almost here. Accelerated by the pandemic, the health care field is seeing profound transformation and change that won’t slow down. At the forefront of these changes is the surge in patient empowerment, consumerism, and the disruption from retail health providers.  

#1 The Acceleration of Patient Empowerment and Consumerism 

In the past, the health care system was characterized by a hierarchical structure, with the revered physicians at the apex and patients taking a passive role in their care. But thanks to the internet, consumers now have access to health information that the doctors of old once gatekept. Now, communities everywhere, from Facebook to TikTok, can help people connect with others experiencing similar health struggles. Wearable tech, health apps, and even mail-order genetic testing let consumers monitor and take control of their health. Health care providers should now expect that patients want to be treated as active participants in their care instead of bystanders.       

Combined with this is the notion that patients view health care services as commodities. And if they need to pay for it out of pocket due to lack of insurance or a high deductible, it is. Like any other service, they’ll shop around for the best quality at the best price.  

Takeaways for marketers  

  • Marketing should be patient-centric, tailoring communications to meet individual patient needs, preferences, and values.  

  • Invest in digital engagement strategies, including telehealth, online communities, your patient portal, and integrations with other health apps and programs.  

  • Emphasize transparency, trust, and data privacy.  

#2 Beyond Advertising: The Role of the Patient Journey in Brand Perception

After COVID, patients have different expectations from health care. It isn’t just about providing medical treatment. It’s also about delivering an experience that helps them feel valued, respected, and comfortable. The patient journey is a comprehensive experience, starting from the moment they make an appointment and extending through their entire encounter with the health care system. Every touchpoint, from initial interactions with administrative staff to the quality of care received, contributes to how a patient views your brand. One bad experience anywhere in this journey can sour them on the whole brand, so that’s why it’s so important to understand your customer journey and what areas can be improved. Marketing and admin should work together to evaluate staff interactions, physical environments, digital experience, and more.  

Takeaways for marketers  

  • Train all staff, from administrative personnel to clinical teams, in empathy, communication, and customer service skills. Remember, it’s everyone’s job to live your brand!  

  • Use patient surveys and feedback mechanisms to understand patient experiences and identify areas for improvement in the journey. 

  • Ensure your marketing materials accurately reflect the patient experience without overpromising.  

#3 Patient-Centered Language Takes Center Stage

With disruptors gearing up to pour investments into health care content, marketers within traditional systems must get serious about crafting crystal-clear, effortlessly digestible, and helpful content. And that means using patient-centered or plain language.  

We recently enjoyed hearing our colleague Ahava Leibtag of Aha Media Group speak at the 2023 NESHCo Annual Conference. In her keynote, we learned several valuable lessons regarding patient-centered language and some important best practices. After COVID, patients no longer have the time or patience to shift through confusing materials. They’ll simply leave your website and find someone else to help them. So make sure your materials are clear, easy to read and understand, and tell them what they should do next, for example, book an appointment, download a checklist, or watch a video.   


Takeaways for marketers  

  • Review your existing website, print, and marketing materials. Look at them from the point of view of a patient who knows nothing about this service.   

  • Research how the disruptor brands are talking about their services to consider how you can compete and differentiate yourselves.    

  • If you have a blog, review your content and traffic data. Are you creating content centered on patient’s needs and questions rather than just pumping out content around the service you want to promote? 

#4 Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable: The Role of AI in Health Care

AI will revolutionize how health care providers diagnose, treat, and deliver health care. But what is the role of AI when it comes to marketing? Unlike other industries that can quickly jump into testing out AI content, digital marketing tactics, or operations processes, healthcare should remain more cautious. We’ve already seen one lawsuit where a health insurance company was trying to use AI to speed up its claims process without proper human oversight. In health care, people’s lives and health are at stake with everything we do. We can’t forget that for the sake of efficiency.        

Takeaways for marketers 

  • Use AI to assist with research or content ideation, but don’t use it for consumer-facing content.  

  • Look at how the leaders in health care are utilizing AI and consider what could make sense for your organization.  

  • Consider investing in a chatbot tool. Consumers are used to having their questions answered instantly, but this is rarely the case in health care. Letting them chat can help them answer their initial questions, like how to book an appointment or where they can access helpful content.  

#5 Navigating the Unyielding Workforce Challenges in Health Care

Workforce challenges have plagued the health care field since the 1930s, and it's time to accept that these issues are here to stay. Factors such as an aging population, increased demand for health care services, and the retirement of experienced professionals have exacerbated the problem. The pandemic only intensified the pressure on health care systems globally, further highlighting the need for a robust and sustainable health care workforce. 

When it comes to recruitment, poaching from other health care systems is only a short-term solution, as there are not enough healthcare workers to go around. Your organization needs to commit to finding long-term solutions. Healthcare institutions, governments, and educational bodies must work together to provide financial incentives, scholarships, and training programs that make nursing education (and health education as a whole) more accessible. Within your organization, ensure your staff is being cared for and not burnt out. 

Takeaways for marketers 

  • Hospitals and health care organizations can form partnerships with colleges and universities to create pipelines of skilled health care professionals. 

  • Continue running brand and recruitment campaigns that highlight the profession's nobility, necessity, and rewarding aspects to encourage passionate individuals to pursue a career in health care.  

  • Invest in comprehensive well-being programs, mental health support, and workload management strategies for your employees to reduce turnover and keep current workers in the field.  

As the health care field continues to evolve, those who grasp the essence of health care consumerism and adapt their strategies accordingly will be best positioned to thrive. Health care marketers have the opportunity to contribute to a landscape that is patient-focused, technologically advanced, and adept at attracting and retaining top talent. Here's to a year of adaptation, innovation, and growth.