It’s an interesting time to be in the digital health industry.
According to Research 2 Guidance’s report, there are currently 800 millions users of digital health services, and that number is expected to rise exponentially in the coming months.
The landscape of the health tech industry is rapidly changing as public institutions are implementing favorable regulations around the industry, while private companies are driving up investments. And it’s quite likely that the increased usage of digital health solutions will long outlast the pandemic.
What will also outlast COVID-19 is the need to have a consistent and up-to-date health communication strategy.
A robust health tech communication strategy will see health tech businesses’ continue to reach their target audiences, and foster industry credibility, even in times of uncertainty. Whether the crisis is natural, like a global pandemic, or unnatural, like the sudden recall of a product, a carefully thought-through communication plan shows stakeholders your health tech company is not only still relevant, but important.
With that in mind, here are some digital communications tips that will bolster health tech’s pr efforts:
Make a short term plan
Given the increased demand for health tech solutions like telehealth, remote monitoring, and self-testing, digital health companies are receiving exposure like they never have before.
With more visibility comes more liability so it’s vital that your company develop an internal and external communication plan to handle a new wave of consumers.
Internally, prepare your employees mentally and structurally for an influx of queries and sales.
Double check that any client-facing platforms like chatbot tools, customer service hotlines, and websites are up-to-date. Identify the spokesperson for the organization and establish a clear chain of communication so that the same messages can be conveyed from the top down.
Externally, use this as an opportunity to educate potential clients on what your company does and how its products and services are relevant. Consider writing a press release specifically for this situation and designate a full time position to take questions from journalists and customers.
Utilize social media
It seems silly to mention in 2020 that social media is a necessary communication tool for tech companies but it’s still far too common for companies to undervalue it.
Maintaining an active social media presence during a crisis is a very effective way to engage with current and potential customers. By leveraging one or two platforms that most fit your brand, you can publish a mix of relevant news and company updates to build a following and keep people informed.
According to Google trends, social media usage has increased anywhere from 15% to 47% depending on the platform. In addition to utilizing the traditional media outlets that your company uses for communication, develop a social media strategy across a few key platforms to push out your message and take part in the trending conversation.
Promote the industry
According to MobiHealthNews in the U.S. alone, 68% of surveyed employers are likely to invest more in digital health in the next five years. And that number is very likely to increase as health experts are relying heavily on health tech solutions to face the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet there is a large part of the population who is on the fence or simply uninformed about the health tech industry. An analysis published by Brink highlighted the four segments of a sample size of U.S. employers in regards to digital health innovation — Sign Me Up, Impress Me, Get Me Comfortable, and Not for Me segments.
The largest segment at 40% was the Get Me Comfortable group followed by the Sign Me Up group at 37% of U.S. workers. These findings indicate that there is an incredible potential for the first group to get comfortable with the right exposure and education.
As a representative of the industry, consider using social media and traditional communications to be a voice for the industry as a whole. Position your CEO or co-founder as a thought leader in the field of health tech in addition to promoting the service or product that your company offers.
Think long term
As a result of COVID-19, the healthcare system is likely to undergo a major shift over the next few months, and the health tech industry is likely to see a dramatic spike in investments. It’s already begun to happen. In February, Teladoc, the virtual care provider, announced a 27% year-over-year increase in its Q4 earnings. This is likely to continue as public health experts emphasize the necessity for adequate prevention and diagnosis tools.
It’s also likely that the health tech industry will become saturated with digital health startups who boast the same but different product than its counterparts. What’s important during this time, then, is to think how the landscape will be different beyond the coronavirus and adapt to that reality.
This doesn’t require predicting the future so much as it requires developing a long term marketing and communication strategy that combines the boom of the COVID-19 environment with the eventual stabilization of the industry. Begin to pose questions now about what the messaging should look like when we’re not in a crisis.
Maybe your company like many others has reduced its fees or waived them altogether to ensure that patients are getting the information that they need to fight against the virus. When the crisis is over, consider how that story will be told and also how to communicate a “return to normal.”
In a recent survey of over 500 health company representatives, 44% said that the pandemic would have a positive outcome on their business.
What the survey didn’t ask was if their companies were prepared to handle these outcomes. While it’s odd to be optimistic about the effect of a global crisis, it’s important to be prepared and well-equipped. And if the crisis has positive outcomes for your business, it still needs to be managed in the smartest way possible.