On the Limits of Technology in Marketing and Healthcare (and Healthcare Marketing)

Rahul K. Parikh recently wrote a fascinating viewpoint in iHealthBeat arguing that both pro-technology people and healthcare practitioners sometimes fall into the trap of extolling new technology above maximizing our existing technology—or old-fashioned methods. I see the same thing in the marketing world every day. We are prone to worshiping technology, sometimes forgetting that it’s the people behind (or in front of) the technology that really make it work. An example I’ve written about previously is that of marketing automation, where the platform itself will only help hospitals or businesses insofar as they have valuable content and strategies for delivering that content (contingent upon an understanding of specific audience needs at a given time).

In healthcare marketing—and marketing in general—the same adage applies: Marketers can use many great technologies to maximize patient (or buyer) engagement and track accountability of budgets, but ultimately the human touch and time-honored principles of audience relevance win the day. Your technology cannot change the fact that no one cares what you have to say if they don’t trust you. Or that despite the convenience of email and texting, no substitute exists for face time with a doctor, as Parikh argues.

At the risk of sounding obvious, to this I add: No substitute exists for human marketing. You can automate many marketing processes in healthcare, but practitioners connecting with patients/families (even via social media) still rule.

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