Who is the audience for your healthcare marketing?

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Here’s a timely article for healthcare marketers by Kenneth Kaufman on Hospitals & Health Networks, Whom Does Health Care Serve: Patients, Consumers or People?

It’s a question many healthcare system and hospital marketers are grappling with (or at least should be), in an increasingly consumer-centric industry where healthcare brands need to think and act like consumer brands.

Here’s our take:

Beyond the technical, objective and appropriate definition of “patient”,  people today don’t want to be labeled as subservient.  Because across most categories, they’re not. And specific to the changing nature of healthcare – from people becoming more personally invested in their health care to the internet making it possible for people to pre-empt their traditional role of patient – the idea of health care providers in control and patients as subordinate is not a compelling idea.

Think about the ideal role of your brand. It would be unlocking people potential. Being a platform for them to get to a better place beyond what they can do on their own or beyond the reach of competitors. In this kind of relationship, quite the opposite of subservient, both consumers and people are far more appropriate terms.

As Kenneth states, ultimately some people will be comfortable in the traditional role of patient, while others will demand to be consumers. Most will play different roles in different health care situations. For providers, the challenge will be not to control these varied roles, but to adapt to serve them. If we have to choose one term to describe those served by the health care system, perhaps the best term is people, a word that is broad enough to suggest the diversity, nuance and universality of the health care experience.

We agree. Across all categories, including healthcare, people want to be and expect to be equal partners in their brand relationships.