According to the National Wellness Institute, “wellness” is a holistic way of living characterized by physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, and occupational well-being. Wellness is also an industry that’s worth $3 billion and growing in the U.S.
The food, fitness, beauty, apparel, travel, and tech industries are all getting in on this trend, but an industry that should be all over it – healthcare – has been slow to embrace it. In turn, healthcare consumers have largely turned to for-profit companies for help with wellness, not their doctors.
When asked by NRC Health to select the party primarily responsible for the health of their community, 35% of consumers responded “don’t know/not sure.” That presents a huge teaching opportunity for health systems. Showing consumers that you should be their go-to wellness resource can solve an age-old health system problem: How do you get patients to visit you outside of big life events like pregnancy and serious illness? The healthy young people who are most interested in wellness are the same people who are likely to go to the doctor only sporadically. You can improve your bottom line by presenting yourself as a partner who can help them maintain their daily sense of wellness – not just a place to go when they’re sick or injured.
Looking at how businesses are appealing to consumers interested in wellness can help you market your health system to those consumers. Companies that succeed in selling wellness do so by improving the patient experience in key ways that many healthcare systems aren’t as focused on, such as:
- Authenticity. From mastering social media to featuring the stories of actual people in their campaigns, for-profit purveyors of wellness make accessibility and honesty an integral part of their marketing. Do you have an authentic brand and are you putting it out there in a way that creates an honest connection between your health system and the public? If not, your patients are likely to trust someone else with their wellness needs.
- Empathy. People want to know that their feelings and experiences are understood and appreciated. Want people to come to you for sensitive issues like acne, incontinence, depression, or erectile dysfunction? Show them they’ll be treated with respect and compassion for doing so.
- Predictability. Medical care can involve a lot of uncertainty – something many people will go out of their way to avoid. Patients wonder how long they will wait, what will happen at their appointment, how the providers will treat them, how much they will pay, and more. You can’t remove all uncertainty from the patient experience. But by creating content that helps patients understand what to expect when interacting with your health system, you can lower their stress and increase the likelihood that they’ll turn to you to get well – and stay well.
No one business has a monopoly on wellness and, increasingly, health systems don’t have a monopoly on patient care. Like consumers of any other product or service, healthcare consumers have high expectations and will turn to your competitors, whether they are other health system or for-profit companies, if they aren’t satisfied with the experience you provide. But marketing that emphasizes your health system’s authenticity, empathy, and predictability will help you stand out in the crowded wellness space and help you attract and retain wellness-focused consumers.