Patients with chronic diseases drive 75% of healthcare spending nationwide, but marketing to this patient segment requires careful communication.
Chronic diseases, defined as diseases that last three months or longer, affect more than 40% of the adult population in the United States. About 40 million Americans are limited in their usual activities each and every day due to chronic conditions, which include chronic pain, diabetes, hypertension, mental illness, and cancer, among others.
According to a recent report from McKinsey, single acute-care episodes, even especially costly episodes, represent a minority of annual healthcare spending. Chronic disease patients who regularly utilize healthcare services make up the largest portion of spending nationwide by far, at more than 75%. On average, that spending is concentrated around patients’ primary care providers: McKinsey reports that more than 90% of claims for a given person with a chronic disease come from a single HCP.
Chronic disease patients tend to be loyal to one physician or hospital, as they want to continue their healthcare journey with the provider who has the most context about their condition. That’s why engaging these patients early on creates the best outcome for both patients and healthcare providers. Above and beyond other marketing methods, digital marketing offers the most efficient and cost-effective means of reaching chronic disease patients as they first enter the funnel.
Reaching Chronic Disease Patients Online
The vast majority of patients begin their healthcare journeys on a search engine. For people with chronic diseases, search engines are a critical vehicle for basic information about their condition, news about new treatments, and directories of specialist providers. Targeted search ads, in conjunction with SEO best practices, can help. By choosing the right long tail keywords and using Google’s geotargeting tools, healthcare providers can reach patients who are actively looking for treatment information.
Social media ads are an especially effective means of reaching chronic disease patients, as many social media channels are a native context for patients to think and talk about their disease. Patients often seek affirmation, connection, and treatment recommendations within condition-specific Facebook groups – and although practices can’t run ads within those groups, they can target users based on membership.
How to Engage with Chronic Disease Patients
It’s not enough for healthcare providers to reach patients where they are on the internet; they must also speak to where patients are emotionally. These patients have done plenty of research on their own, and they’re more than familiar with their conditions. Ads that make obvious statements like the one below don’t stand out or appeal to patients with chronic conditions:
Patients who suffer from chronic migraines are aware that their condition makes each day more difficult for them; they don’t want or need to simply be reminded of that. Rather, craft messages that empower and inspire, and don’t shy away from using humor. This ad from Gilenya is a great example, as it take a funny, feisty approach to living with MS:
Ultimately, chronic disease patients don’t need to be reminded about the negatives of their conditions. Instead, opt for humorous or relatable messages that remind patients that they aren’t alone – and show them that things could be a different way.
Reaching chronic disease patients – and ensuring they come to your practice – is about showing up with the right message at the right time. Modern digital marketing tools combined with smart messaging can help you become the practice of choice for guiding a patient through the management of their chronic condition.