Updated: Aug 22
While we still have a few months to go in 2023, the accelerated pace of new healthcare marketing platforms and strategies will make 2024 one of the most interesting in branding history. Here are my top four trends to watch over the next 12 months.
1. The Generative AI Content Debate
I’m starting to yawn when I see these words, given that the term is turning into clickbait and, at the same time, becoming desensitized. Regardless, what’s more interesting than the technology itself is the ongoing debate about how marketers will use it.
One need only look at the television and movie writers union strikes to see how generative AI has become a third rail within the creative community. One can debate whether Hollywood will use generative AI for background in researching content or scripts. Still, serious ethical questions remain about the outright scrapping of ChatGPT output for marketing materials or patient-facing content.
New technologies are enabling watermarks of codes on the output generated by AI platforms. But as with computer viruses, once we invent a plagiarism tracker, a new variant will pop up to circumvent it. This will be an increasing moral issue within the content creation community and incredibly difficult to police.
For all my anxiety about generative AI — and AI in general — I believe there is some merit to the technology regarding the hyper-personalization of the patient experience. But the first generation of these algorithms isn't quite there yet. If I left it up to the tech, I would get personalized care for champion golfer Ben Crenshaw based on my misidentification for Ben on ChatGPT. I wonder what my experiences would have been based on the errant output!
That said, when the bugs have been removed, my caretakers could have an entirely personal, multi-aspect dossier of “Patient Frank" instead of getting to know me through intermittent ice-breaker questions during their hectic rounds. The same allowance for deeper connection would also be true for patients wanting to have a personal dossier on their doctors and nurses via next-generation generative AI.
3. Immersive Patient Rooms
In tandem with hyper-personalization, we can expect the next generation of technology to influence a patient's in-room experience. I had the horrible experience of only seeing the faces of four doctors and nurses during a 100-day hospitalization for COVID. To this day, I couldn’t identify the other 50 people who cared for me in a lineup.
An in-room digital display that projected the picture of every doctor who entered my room would have significantly boosted my morale then. And this isn’t a Star Trek vision — this technology is available now using RFID tags on name badges that beam caretakers’ pictures and information on the screen or bedside iPad.
In addition to the digital whiteboards that provide patients with physical therapy schedules and lab test times (previously written with a grease pencil), more and more of the patient experience will be on larger screens and personal devices at the bedside.
4. Direct Mail – Yes, as in Postal!
Ok, I will go out on a limb here, but I expect an increased resurgence of postal marketing in 2024. It’s not because I’m a Luddite and deplore email marketing. It’s simply a matter of signal-to-noise ratio.
Here are a few stats to consider:
Direct mail letters average 43% ROI, according to the latest (2023) ANA Response Report.
74% of marketers said that direct mail delivers the best ROI of any channel, according to Lob’s 2023 State of Direct Mail report.
The delete key is the natural enemy of digital marketing campaigns. Many of us have looked at minimal open and click-through rates and declared victory when they were above 20%.
On the other hand, everyone is a sucker for a great mailer in the postal box. Add to this an increase in hyper-personalization and we now see mail that begs to be opened. In fact, the healthcare consumer is refreshed by not having to sort through a haze of subject lines that are either total clickbait or really pathetic copywriting.
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