Posted By Invoca on 02/27/2024

The Top 7 Healthcare Marketing Challenges and How to Solve Them

The Top 7 Healthcare Marketing Challenges and How to Solve Them

Healthcare marketing statistics suggest spending on digital advertising by the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries will reach $20 billion next year, according to some projections. That figure underscores how much things can change in just a decade. It’s 20 times the amount spent in 2014. 

What hasn’t changed much during that same period are healthcare marketing challenges. Among the most challenging issues facing healthcare professionals today, including healthcare marketers, are industry regulations. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other laws and mandates have required adherence to strict privacy rules since 1996, making it more difficult for healthcare services to use patient information for marketing purposes.

Meanwhile, despite the predictions for massive digital ad spending in 2024 in the healthcare sector, marketing budgets have been squeezed lately as healthcare businesses continue to emphasize fiscal efficiency in a shaky post-pandemic economy.

Amid such imposing challenges, getting healthcare marketing right from the outset is more important than ever. In this post, we’ll look at seven of the most challenging issues that are impacting marketing in healthcare organizations today. We also offer some suggestions to help healthcare marketing pros be more effective while avoiding compliance quagmires and operating within budget constraints.

1. Navigating HIPAA Compliance in Digital Marketing

HIPAA tops the list of unique challenges in the healthcare marketing field. No big surprise there, right? Anyone who works in healthcare marketing knows that the law’s stringent privacy rules, and its regulation of protected health information (PHI), work frustratingly against one of the key tenets of modern marketing: personalization. 

HIPAA strictly prohibits the use of patient data by healthcare services marketers without explicit consent from patients. These constraints can prevent healthcare organizations from conducting effective market segmentation. Targeting and remarketing are also problematic due to privacy considerations.  

There are no shortcuts healthcare organizations can take to overcome the HIPAA compliance challenge. The penalties for non-compliance can be steep, with fines of up to $50,000 per violation and the threat of imprisonment for anyone disclosing PHI. Yet, despite the marketing minefield that HIPAA presents, there are ways to leverage data in your marketing strategies and stay in compliance.

The first and best way to gain access to data for healthcare marketing is to ask patients for their permission to use their information in an anonymized form for marketing purposes. This is typically obtained by asking a patient to sign a consent form when they arrive for an appointment.

HIPAA does not view certain demographic, behavioral, and psychographic data as PHI, so this type of information — demographics like age and gender; behavior data such as online interaction with healthcare content; and psychographic data like general lifestyle characteristics — are all fair game for marketers. Marketers can also perform market segmentation by focusing on common health segments such as nutrition, palliative care, and mental health.       

2. Enhancing Healthcare’s Public Image

Public perception of the healthcare industry was broadly positive during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that honeymoon seems to be over. According to Gallup, public opinion has shifted dramatically since 2020. In 2023, 49% of respondents had a very or somewhat negative view of the healthcare industry, while 35% had a positive view. In 2020 those numbers were 31% and 51%, respectively. 

Soaring drug prices, insurance premiums, and healthcare costs are largely to blame. So, too, are the issues of accessibility, patient safety, and service quality. Marketers and healthcare professionals face the daunting challenge of reshaping healthcare’s public image, restoring confidence and trust, and delivering a positive customer experience. 

Marketers can help healthcare providers in these efforts by paying close attention to online reviews, tracking other customer insights, and proactively using that information to shape their marketing strategies and outreach. However, keep in mind that you also need to gather and analyze phone conversation data, if you want to get the full picture of customer sentiment.

Since 88% of healthcare appointments are scheduled by phone, marketers who don’t make use of customer insights contained in those and other phone calls are missing a beat. Conversation intelligence platforms like Invoca can provide huge swaths of data that can be mined by healthcare marketers seeking to hear and act on the true voice of the customer.

Invoca also helps marketing teams in the healthcare industry to analyze call data efficiently and quickly. They can divine patterns in consumer behavior and extract insight that they can put into to action fast to help differentiate, elevate or strengthen a healthcare brand in the minds of consumers.

3. Maximizing Results with Limited Budgets

Marketing budgets for healthcare enterprises were squeezed by 8% in 2023. That has put a crimp in digital ad campaigns and limited outreach efforts, making it tougher for healthcare organizations to bring in new patients. So, more than ever, it’s imperative for marketers to optimize marketing spend.

Here again, the more you know about your target audience, the better prepared you will be to reach customers with the right messages, at the right time, and achieve your desired return on investment (ROI). Thankfully, there are many tools marketers can use to develop effective marketing campaigns when working within a tight budget.

These solutions include Google Analytics’ free tools, which can help your healthcare marketing teams get a better picture of who is visiting your website and why. You might also want to consider collaborating with other businesses targeting the same audience and sharing market research and other costs with them.

You can also preserve resources by keeping your marketing programs laser-focused on channels that offer the highest ROI, according to the data that you’re receiving. This is where attribution becomes key. While it’s easy to trace attribution in a customer’s digital journey, the analog (phone) journey is tougher to follow — unless you have access to data from 100% of the phone calls your healthcare organization has with its customers.

The call tracking, recording, and transcription features in Invoca’s artificial intelligence (AI)-powered platform can provide full transparency into the buyer journey. For example, you can use Invoca to track dynamically generated phone numbers in digital ads and immediately know which ad, and which channel, a caller came from. 

Furthermore, data from phone calls can shed light on patient intent, including whether they made a healthcare appointment. Marketing teams can use that data to refine marketing content and switch efforts to the highest-performing channels for ROI at any time.       

4. Utilizing Patient Feedback to Drive Marketing

Effective communication with customers is critical to business success in any vertical, including the healthcare industry. So, too, is the ability to receive and act on consumer feedback — or, in this case, patient feedback — in a timely fashion. Insights from customers can help healthcare organizations refine their approach to delivering patient experiences and shaping marketing strategies.   

Consider the real-life example of Spectrum Retirement Communities, a leading operator of retirement, assisted living, and memory care communities in 10 states. Spectrum faced an urgent problem as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded: How could it develop and deploy a proactive communication plan that fully addressed the concerns of patients and their families? And what were they concerned about?

Prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns, Spectrum had started using Signal AI  from Invoca to flag keywords in phone calls to help track marketing attribution and for sales team training. By changing keyword signals, the retirement home operator was able to identify calls related to COVID-19 and amass data, including the tenor and tone of customer concerns. 

This enabled Spectrum to develop a comprehensive strategy to address key concerns and implement a strong communication and crisis response plan. The result was a very low infection rate (1%) among staff and residents in the first six months of the epidemic. It also led to 160 positive customer reviews during that same period and a 20% reduction in resident turnover. All-in-all, it was a great result for brand perception simply by using data unearthed in everyday phone calls.  

5. Crafting Impactful Healthcare Marketing Content

Among the most challenging issues facing healthcare professionals today is the need to create high-impact marketing content to engage target audiences. 

Marketers must balance the needs of the consumer audience with the needs of clients within the enterprise. For example, doctors in a medical practice or product developers in a pharmaceutical company may push for marketing material with technical content that may go above the heads of average consumers. Getting the balance right is key to developing effective marketing messaging.   

The bedrock of a good marketing strategy is a data-driven approach. And the data used in that approach must be accurate. An inaccurate marketing strategy based on poor or incomplete data wastes resources. Inaccurate content also erodes consumer trust and can destroy a brand’s reputation. In some cases, it could even adversely impact health outcomes.

Luckily, marketers have many sources of relevant data to mine. They can gather data from keyword research tools, customer reviews, conversations on social platforms, and customer interactions with various webpages, for example. Another way to collect accurate data is to use the true voice of the customer from phone calls. Call tracking and recording can deliver a rich vein of insight that can be quickly analyzed using AI-driven conversation intelligence tools like Invoca to provide actionable data and content. 

It’s also important to ensure that your healthcare marketing content speaks to the audiences you are keen to target. Patients typically reach out to healthcare providers because they need specific help or advice. In other words, they have a problem. Your content must acknowledge that issue and describe a potential solution if it is to have maximum impact. 

6. Adapting to AI and Modern Marketing Technologies

An emerging challenge that is impacting marketing in healthcare organizations is adapting to and effectively leveraging new technologies like AI. Marketers don’t typically shy away from technology. After all, using the right technology can spread resources more widely and optimize marketing spend. But making the transition to using AI in marketing is more of a journey than just flipping a switch.

That said, artificial intelligence offers huge benefits to healthcare marketers when they make the most of it. We’ve already mentioned Invoca’s AI-driven platform as an example. The AI’s ability to automatically redact PHI and be compliant with HIPAA has been a game-changer for many marketers in the healthcare industry. Plus, Invoca is an AI-driven solution that easily integrates with the rest of a company’s tech stack, including tools marketers use often, such as the customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Invoca also checks the boxes when it comes to marketers’ concerns about AI adoption. Chief among these is data security, which we’ve also touched on in terms of Invoca’s compliance with HIPAA. But did you know that Invoca also complies with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS)? Invoca is also SOC 2 Type 2 and ISO 27001 compliant. 

7. The Evolution of the Patient Journey

The last of the healthcare industry challenges we’ll address here is a constant one. Customer behaviors and preferences change frequently, and often, very quickly. The fact that no two customers (or patients) are the same further complicates marketing’s ability to understand and adapt to their needs effectively. Healthcare marketers who can trace the patient journey accurately and with confidence have a tremendous advantage over much of the competition. 

Marketing statistics in healthcare show how the patient journey has evolved. Before the internet, the patient journey began almost exclusively via telephone. Today, it begins online. More than 94% of healthcare patients use online reviews to evaluate providers, and 5% of all Google searches today are health-related. These trends are likely to deepen with the continued spread of mobile use. 

However, the patient journey takes a twist after research about providers is completed. Almost 90% of healthcare appointments are scheduled by phone versus just 2.4% online. And consumers are more likely to call providers with questions after conducting research online. 

Tracking the patient journey online and offline is critical for healthcare marketers. Invoca’s AI-powered call tracking, recording, and transcribing tools and associated analytics can help. Marketers can use these features to map and respond to ever-evolving patient journeys and seamlessly connect consumers’ online and offline journeys to provide a cohesive experience

Embracing the Future of Healthcare Marketing with Invoca

In today’s highly competitive and rapidly evolving healthcare marketplace, marketing teams must stay ahead of the game by using the best technology solutions and data insights available.

By partnering with Invoca, healthcare marketers gain access to powerful tools and accurate, timely information to help them address a host of healthcare industry challenges, some of them unique challenges and some not. The need to navigate HIPAA compliance, deliver convincing content that attracts new customers, and maximize lean marketing budgets stand among them.


If you’d like to learn more about Invoca for healthcare organizations and how our technology can help enhance your healthcare marketing efforts, contact us today.

Additional Reading

Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you overcome your healthcare marketing challenges? Check out these resources:


Jane Irene Kelly



The original version of this page was published at:  https://www.invoca.com/blog/healthcare-marketing-challenges


Invoca for Healthcare enables healthcare providers to capture detailed analytics on a new patient’s full journey. This includes the marketing campaign that drove initial interest, the specific webp... Read more


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