What are the 5 Ps of healthcare marketing?

Feb 04, 2022

MeTime - What are the 5 Ps of healthcare marketing?

What are the 5 Ps of healthcare marketing?

Healthcare marketing is not what it used to be even a decade ago. Because of a marketing mix of digital and traditional channels, and because the business of healthcare has been changing at such a fast pace, in recent years healthcare organizations have been forced to develop more comprehensive marketing strategies to stay ahead of the curve.

Traditionally, healthcare providers have allocated their budget and attention to physicians, patients, payers, public policy makers, etc. And depending on current market conditions, the emphasis of the marketing plan has shifted from one group to another.

But now, any healthcare organization that is aiming for success cannot afford to put their marketing efforts into these unspecified buckets. To truly rule the healthcare marketing field, you need to thoroughly research the local market, and then go ahead with decision making based on this assessment.

The traditional models of focusing on referring physicians or consumers do not work anymore. So, in today's changing landscape, how can you and your marketing team build a successful practice? The answer is by focusing on the 5 P’s of healthcare marketing. Continue reading to learn more.

What are the types of health care market?

There is no universal classification, but simply speaking, the healthcare sector is divided into the following four broad categories: Health care services and facilities, medical devices and equipment, medical insurance, and pharmaceuticals. If you are an aesthetic provider, dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon, plastic surgeon, dentist, or other healthcare professional, you obviously fit into the first category of medical services and facilities.

What are the 5 P's of healthcare marketing?

Most healthcare providers focus on one P of healthcare marketing: Promotion. The typical marketing plan is nothing more than a barrage of communication, consisting of public relations, advertising, sponsorships, and social media promotions. However, if this is the case at your practice, hospital, or acute care facility, you are missing out on truly leveraging the power of the 5 Ps of healthcare marketing. Broadening your perspective to include all the 5 P's of marketing (and a bonus 2), with a healthy marketing mix will allow your organization, hospital, or health system to reach its full potential.

People

Healthcare is a people-centric business. Whether it is existing consumers or potential customers, your staff, management, or other providers who refer patients to you – everyone is important for the future of your healthcare organization, clinical practice, or medical facility.

Let's take patients, for example. A patient does not understand the nitty gritty of medicine or even how to evaluate your clinical skills. They simply assess you based on their experience at your practice. And the patient experience at your health organization largely depends on perception as well as personal interactions with you and your staff. Your patients are the mouthpieces of your reputation. And your staff keep your practice running like a well-oiled machine - so a part of your marketing mix should be focused on keeping both happy.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF: Am I doing anything to evaluate patient satisfaction at my practice? Have the demographics of my target patient population changed in recent years? Do I have the right staff in the right place to best serve my patients? Are my staff in need of additional training or education to do their jobs well?

Product

There are likely several physicians offering very similar products and services to people in your community. You can stand head and shoulders above your competition by offering value-for-money, i.e., services and products that meet or exceed the expectations and needs of your target market.

For a company that makes an anti-aging cream, for instance, the "product" is a box that people can buy off a store shelf. But services at healthcare organizations are not tangible products. Your product is defined in terms of patient satisfaction with your services. This, more than anything else, will influence a patient's decision to stick with you. You, therefore, need to take a critical look at your services and determine what value proposition they offer to consumers.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF: Do my current services answer the needs of my existing and potential patients? Does my practice deliver significant value? How does the quality and value of my services compare to the competition? What can I change or add to my services? How can I better present my services to my target audience?

Price

For any business to be successful, a key metric is the product price. The product price or service price is what a person pays in exchange for value received. To stay competitive in the healthcare industry with healthy profits, you need to be sensitive to market trends.

Sometimes, there is no option. The price is fixed and paid through insurance. But when it comes to elective and cosmetic procedures, it's a whole new ballgame. You need to position yourself in the price spectrum at a point that is affordable, takes into account marketplace competition, and offers value-for-money to your clients. It is essential that you take an in-depth look at your prices and identify areas where you have some flexibility. This will allow you to be open to offer package prices or adjust prices in response to market trends.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF: What is the perceived and delivered value of my services? Are my prices in sync with the competition, marketplace, and economic environment? What is the most effective pricing strategy for my practice? How can I add value for my patients while aining current prices? Do I need to increase or decrease prices for select services or eliminate certain services? What options can I offer to consumers to make my services more affordable (deferred payment plans, financing, special offers, etc.).

Place

Physicians have to present their services to patients or consumers in the right place at the right time for their practice to be successful. The most obvious location or place is medical practice, office, or healthcare facility. However, physicians must also consider how they can take their product or service to the consumer at other places.

A change in location can greatly impact a patient's decision to buy. An aesthetic provider, for example, may consider a location such as a mall where there is a large footfall of potential customers. A dentist may consider moving to a location where there are fewer providers, thereby addressing patient needs by offering a dental care in an under-represented area.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF: What is the ideal clinic location for my target patients? Does my current location require a different approach or presentation? Are there additional locations where my products or services can be offered? How does my location affect my patient's decision to use my services?

Promotion

Physicians communicate with their target audience in many ways. The goal is to present the benefits of your practice, answer the needs of your patients, and inspire them to choose your organization. This all comes under the umbrella of promotion.

Promotion is probably the best-known P of healthcare marketing, but it is also the one to which many healthcare professionals react negatively. Retail marketing, promotions, specials, discounts, offers, etc., are all terms that do not have a positive connotation in healthcare.

A better way to look at promotion is as communication. This includes both direct interaction with your patients as well as publicity and advertising. Promotion essentially consists of direct and indirect ways of communicating your brand and your practice to those who may want or need your services. Your objective should be to identify ways in which you can do this in a professional way. The goal ultimately is to let people know what you can do for them.

Keep in mind the various marketing channels available at the current time. A couple of decades ago, newspapers and magazines ruled. Hardly any physician had a website and social media was yet to take off. Now, the marketing strategy for your health system cannot afford to ignore these avenues for promotion and capture new audiences.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF: What message am I sending through my various communications channels? Am I being seen and heard by the right audience? Do I need to revise my message to reflect changing trends? Am I measuring results and making adjustments to my marketing program? What new strategies and approaches are available that I should consider?

The 2 Bonus P's of Marketing

Packaging

How your customer or patient perceives you and your practice is often visual. In healthcare more so than other industries, this is often experiential. You should look at your practice and the experience you offer through the eyes of your patients. Take a fresh look, as if you are a patient coming to the practice for the first time. What is the appearance of your practice? Does your reception area look welcoming? Is the look of your website and brochures classic and modern or outdated and untidy? Does the appearance of your staff need improvement?

A second aspect of packaging is offering a bundle of services at an attractive price (for example, a cosmetic surgeon may offer chemical peels and laser skin resurfacing as a package or a plastic surgeon may offer a "mommy makeover").

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF: What does a new patient see when they enter the door? Does the first impression exceed that of my competition? What would a “secret reviewer” report about me? How do my patients describe their experience to others - excellent, ordinary, or terrible? Does the overall packaging of my practice create confidence and trust in patients? What changes can I bring about to improve perception? How can I bundle services to increase the value for patients?

Positioning

This is a toughie in marketing for healthcare practices. It essentially means getting patients and customers to choose you and not your competition. And this depends on how your practice is perceived in the minds of current and prospective customers.

You can think of positioning as what you want people to say about you. Ideally, this should be the same as your marketing message. Establishing an image of your brand and services in the mind of your patients is absolutely critical to your success.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF: What message do I want others to use when they are describing me and my practice? Is there a gap between my perception, the reality, and what people actually think? Where can I adjust my marketing message and positioning? Has my audience changed, thereby warranting a change in positioning?

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the 5 P's of marketing should encourage new patients to walk through your door, keep existing patients happy, and allow you to provide quality care to your patients with limited resources. Start by implementing at least one or two of these principles and see if your practice can reach its full potential.

What is healthcare marketing strategy?

Whether you run a solo practice, a small clinic, or a large healthcare organization with more than 100 employees, there's one thing you can't afford to ignore - a healthcare marketing strategy. And in a world that is increasingly connected online, digital marketing and online marketing should be your top choice among medical marketing strategies.

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