I just received a mail from a journalist asking me on what could be the key trends in digital marketing for the Healthcare sector in India. This inspired me to write this opinion piece primarily because this sector, especially Hospitals have so much to gain from the medium.

I think Hospitals in India are at a major inflection point. The key for better predictive diagnosis and personalized patient experience at most Hospitals in India at this stage would be to envision and set benchmarks for Patient Experience and Digital Business. This would mean organizing and consolidating  information. This would also mean creating buckets/stages of patient experience cycle and creating people independent processes to engage them.

Especially in the case of Hospitals, inbound patient nurturing strategies is more important than patient acquisition strategies. Since, a Healthcare seeker and a Patient’s majority time is outside the Hospitals, the key to better business simply means knowing patients better, engaging their care givers and giving them an experience which makes them loyal when they have choices.

For starters, someone who came for a health-checkup to a Hospital is likely to trust the same Hospital for a treatment or would recommend the Hospital to someone they care about. Also important is to engage preventive health-seekers who evangelize, trust and recommend a Hospital’s vision. This means communicating the vision of senior leaders within the Hospitals through various conversational mediums.

While all this is on, there is a more fundamental transformation which needs to happen in parallel. Taking a step back, Hospitals need to digitally ready themselves for their patients. This would go a long way to influence how much of digital marketing innovations and approaches would impact the Hospital Top-Line.

For instance, technologies are there, but are the Hospitals ready to embrace them? In many cases, this would mean a overhaul of non-collaborative systems/tools/SOPs/People functions. The key would be to create and envision dashboards,then create processes, then stick to a core data/information management platforms (= a workflow reviewed progressively) and then supercharge it with smart tools/widgets (plenty of information management platforms and smart tools around provided we know how to make some of these work as a well oiled process) and then finally make all of this people independent with standard operating procedures. I think the time has come where all mid and large Hospitals should invest on that seasoned and skilled senior executive  who is given  a hands-on mandate for Digital Transformation/Business (which includes specialty digital functions like marketing-outbound and inbound, information management, technology and analytics). It’s again very important that this critical function reports to the overall Business or Operational Leadership having broader Organizational mandates to make sure all this work comes together for the larger picture to be achieved.