Marketing in the healthcare industry is complex; strict compliance rules and regulations make it a tricky field to navigate. However, communication is key in this industry when it comes to educating consumers.

In the past, products and devices were primarily marketed to health care providers and physicians. This made sense at first glance, considering they use the products to execute their jobs. However, patients now have more access than ever before to clinical data and information regarding their medical needs. Therefore, a marketing shift has taken place in the industry. Life science companies are now gearing their marketing efforts directly to patients, rather than through physicians and providers. This refined approach targets the end consumer, ultimately guiding them through their decision-making process.

The direct-to-patient strategy focuses on marketing to the end consumer, who is tasked with medical decisions. In this way, the healthcare industry can communicate and engage with patients without healthcare providers acting as a middleman. The direct-to-patient strategy is a pivotal shift in the industry. You can refine your marketing strategy with a variety of marketing channels that help to engage with your new target audience.

A New Target Audience

It used to be intuitive for healthcare companies to target products to providers, but now patients have similar access to a wealth of medical information. They are making their own health care decisions before stepping foot into the doctor’s office.

An individual can use the internet to research their symptoms and conditions prior to an in-person visit. In fact, 72% of internet users in the U.S. search online for health-related information. Therefore, patients are able to walk into the doctor’s office with a pre-determined symptom or solution that they believe the doctor will validate. This is a major transition, considering half of the research is done prior to the visit.


Doctor handing patient paper at desk


With this course of action, the patients now hold just as much (if not more) control than physicians. This means that the healthcare industry has a new marketing opportunity. By implementing a direct-to-patient strategy, healthcare companies can reach and engage with patients directly. This gives patients the choice to either gather information on their own terms or to receive it through their doctors.

Reach Your Patients

Your healthcare company can work to empower those patients who wish to research medical care options on their own terms. The marketing channels below can help you to do it effectively.

1. Websites

Websites make it easy for patients to gather information. Online health websites, such as WebMD and Mayo Clinic, are becoming a popular resource for consumers. In fact, 53% of consumers search for health information on WebMD. With such high rates of online searches, it is evident that health care institutions should focus their efforts on optimizing websites to target this new audience. Make your website clear with products and solutions that can help patients solve their problems.

2. Content

Speak the language of your new audience. With direct-to-patient marketing, the messaging will be less technical and more focused on common medical needs, symptoms and treatments. Patients will resonate with messaging that they understand. Therefore, uncover how patients are referring to your products, or how they describe common medical symptoms and conditions. For instance, patients might search for content like “common cold symptoms” rather than “the medications commonly used to treat a seasonal sickness.” By relaying your messages in a relatable way, you will prove to patients that you are approachable as well as experts in the industry.

Download: Pharmaceuticals’ Guide for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

3. Empathy

Account for the comfort level of each individual. Not every medical condition is easy to discuss. Some patients might not even want to admit to their issues. This is where your healthcare institution can stand out from the rest. For instance, work to understand the context in which someone wants to receive information. Then, deliver this content in a way that can be consumed privately. Perhaps you have a patient log-in page with specific content that ranges from serious medical issues to minor every day occurrences. By using empathy in your content, you will show respect and resonate with consumers who feel comfortable with your company’s offerings.


Member login screen



Patients are playing a major role in their own health care decisions. Websites make it easier to self-diagnose, and medical information is at their fingertips. Therefore, you may want to consider shifting your marketing strategy to include patients, rather than just providers. You can resonate with patients through impactful content that is sympathetic, relatable and personalized. In the end, your patient will have better insight into their medical needs and be able to make a clear decision, while keeping your company at the top of their minds.

What do you think about this recent marketing shift? Tell us about it on Twitter or LinkedIn!

Rethink Your Marketing Strategy: Tactics for Fixing Your Funnel in Health & Life Sciences