5 Reasons Why It Makes Good Sense To Hire A Healthcare Branding Agency

Hiring a healthcare branding agency is a step that any healthcare facility must take into consideration for the sake of its success. Running a healthcare facility of any size is essentially running a business. Unless you have a solid background as a business person, you are undoubtedly moving into uncharted waters. Given the number of matters that will divert your attention both during & outside of business hours, it’s hard to imagine having the time to sit down and handle marketing.

After all, unless you have clients/consumers, you will not succeed. Here are five reasons why it makes sense to hire a branding agency that specializing in the specific needs of the healthcare field:

1. Time – As mentioned earlier, you are a busy individual far too consumed with any number of matters throughout the day. Being able to carve out thirty minutes here and there is no way to launch a successful marketing campaign. By hiring a separate branding agency, they can dedicate the time necessary to make things start moving.

2. Saving Money – If you sit down and try to calculate the amount of financial resources you would need to dedicate to having someone in-house handle the dynamic of marketing while trying to do their regular duties, you’d be quick to note the lack of productivity. If you decide to hire a separate person to handle marketing, they may have credentials, but they might not have the knowledge of what your business is all about. Factor in a new salary & other incentives and the cost goes up fast.

3. A Dedicated Branding Agency Knows the Business – Healthcare branding agencies are in the business of knowing how to make healthcare facilities/businesses become successful. They know how to work with the surrounding area, understand the demographics at play, and can make these disparate aspects of marketing come together in a cohesive plan.

4. Immediate Plan Implementation – With the knowledge of the business and the ability to make a plan come together, a separate branding agency can implement the marketing plan immediately. This can be beneficial for a healthcare facility as it does make it necessary to be organized and on top of contact lists, financial data, and other pieces that compose most marketing strategies.

5. Perspective – Any successful marketing plan maintains the need for self-assessment. Just because you have a plan and put it into effect doesn’t mean that things are moving along just fine. Have you seen an increase in traffic through the door? How well-known is your brand on social media? Is your email campaign getting the desired online traffic you hoped for? What is your return on investment (ROI)? Much the same way it’s nearly impossible to tickle yourself, it is nearly impossible to honestly see how well, or how poorly, you are doing and if there is a need to change directions in your marketing. A separate branding agency brings this perspective, but they also bring to the table the ability to not falter under less than happy times. They regroup and move forward.

Being a successful business owner, even in the healthcare field, means knowing how to effectively run your business and delegating responsibility to those you trust. By hiring a healthcare branding agency, you give yourself the chance to focus on what is most important – your business.

The Business Of Health Care – Managing Your Private Practice: Dr Hlombe Makuluma

In the Garden of Eden, during the fall of man, God asked Adam: “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Adam answered by blaming his wife, Eve. And when God asked the woman: “What is this that you have done?” Eve responded by blaming the serpent. Man’s inability to take responsibility for his wrongs, it seems, was embedded in his genetic makeup from the beginning of time.

In my twenty-five years in private practice, there has been plenty of serpents to blame for my personal and business woes. I was never short of excuses for my failures, shielding myself in the process from my inadequacies. I had also witnessed dozens of colleagues abandoning the medical profession, driven to other fields, and hiding behind similar excuses to mine for their failure.

Some had gone on to thrive in their newly found occupations, but for others, disappointment stalked the rest of their professional lives. For the latter, I am certain no other question tormented them more than: What does it take to win? What does it take to get things right in their floundering medical practises?

Winning in business is a seminal objective since success extends beyond the individual. Not only do our health practises prosper but also our families, children and marriages win. Winning at work can lead to being a champion at home. If for anything else then, that is why the message contained in Dr. Makuluma’s compelling and riveting book is vital. Inspired by his own experience, and profoundly stirred by the doom he witnessed in private practice, the author’s sublime ‘project’ reminds us that success, and indeed failure in health care practice, is often not by accident.

Success, he tells us, is a choice. When we run a race, we should do so with the mind of a champion: and that is do so with a plan to win and not surrender to the myriad business setbacks endemic in the medical profession.

In “The Business of Health Care” Dr. Makuluma gives us his blueprint-a strategy which when properly executed would eliminate flaws in private health practice, unravel the mystery behind success, and lead to victory. The genius of his plan is the sheer simplicity of its precepts. The author readily confronts the complexities of running a medical practice with carefully thought out principles, and with also simple but deliberate language.

From the outset, he jolts the reader with invaluable advice: The key to successfully operate a health practice is to be financially literate. This is the “basic formula”, he writes, for operating any business. On the surface this observation is obvious, and yet it remains the cardinal reason for the failure of many health practises.

It has also been stated repeatedly in several different ways throughout the ages. “A fool and his money are soon parted”: goes the old adage. “The men who can manage men manage the men who can manage things, and the men who can manage money, manage all.” _Will and Ariel Durant, The Lesson of History.

In my practice, I never saw my role extending beyond my skills as a surgeon. My energies were continually sapped by improving my surgical skills. My relationship with my practice as a business, was at best lukewarm. I had, more than most, put in the long hours at work, but I had failed to grasp the very simple notion that I was a ‘health practitioner running a business,’as the author so aptly and eloquently puts it.

As with the unprofitable servant in the biblical parable of talents, my thoughts on money were restricted to the fear of losing it, than in making it. When it came to wealth, and its creation, my mind mostly saw limitations rather than possibilities. Hardship was consequently the fingerprint of my practice, and financial ignorance was engraved in its soul. My professional life was a narrative of unfulfilled dreams.

The Business of Health Care is the strategic omnibus that will undoubtedly carry the modern medical practitioners into the future. It is a well-written and well-researched book, and is destined to be the bible for all doctors going into private practice. In it, Dr. Makuluma, takes us by the hand and offers the treasures and tools of running a successful practise in the twenty-first century.

The author’s ‘project’ is a priceless gift to health practitioners. It is an august framework for success, underpinned by the supremacy of design. Dr. Makuluma provides the implements not just to manage a business, but also to manage life.

After reading the book, it is as if one has suddenly woken up from a nightmare. It is difficult to suppress the indignation at the harm which ignorance has wrought upon our venerable profession. But, now doubt has been supplanted with optimism. One now approaches every day at work, and every challenge, with renewed hopes and sense of purpose.

Natural Healthcare – Are You Open To Natural Forms of Healthcare?

Are you open to natural forms of healthcare?

If you care about supporting and improving your health, and the health of your loved ones, using essential oils is a safe, effective, and natural solution that can enhance your entire life.

You Can Use Essential Oils:

For your overall physical, mental, and emotional welfare
In food preparation and cooking
As part of your cleaning routine
In the laundry
As part of your exercise routine
As part of your meditation and yoga practices
As part of your weight loss program
To eliminate odors
In your beauty routine – skin care, and make-your-own cosmetics
And much, much, more!
What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils were mankind’s first medicine, and there are 188 references to them in the Bible.

They carry active volatile compounds in a highly concentrated form that can provide therapeutic benefits using very small amounts. These naturally occurring compounds are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They provide plants with protection against predators, as well as play a role in pollination.

They are beautifully fragrant, lipid soluble (can pass right through the cell membrane), and have long been used for food preparation, beauty treatments, natural cleaning products, fragrances, and healthcare practices.

They support emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual success, and have a bio-electrical frequency that is several times greater than the frequency of herbs, food, and even the human body.

How Do I Choose The Right Oils?

When choosing essential oils, be sure they are gently and carefully distilled from plants that have been patiently harvested at the perfect moment by experienced growers for ideal extract composition and efficacy, as well as carefully and thoroughly tested using strict quality protocol to ensure they are certified, pure, and therapeutic grade.

How Do I Use Them?

Essential oils can be used a single oil at a time or in complex blends in one of three methods:

Aromatic – certain oils, when diffused, can be very stimulating, calming or soothing, as well as purify the air of unwanted odors and airborne pathogens.
Topical – essential oils are easily absorbed into the skin and can be safely applied topically alone or with a carrier oil, like jojoba or coconut oil.
Internal – most oils can be ingested as dietary supplements supporting a wide variety of healthy conditions.
If you’re new to this whole natural healthcare thing, you’re not alone. There’s so much to learn and it can be overwhelming, but the benefits are worth it.

Being open to natural forms of healthcare is the first step in taking control of your health and well-being, and using essential oils is your next step.

The Meaning Of Quality In Health Care

The process of receiving health care services at the correct time in the appropriate way and to get the best possible outcome is defined as quality health care.

Six attributes of health care quality

• Safety – Care should not harm any patient.
• Patient centered – Individual needs should be taken care of when providing care.
• Timely – Care should be provided exactly on time.
• Effective – Care must be based on evidence.
• Efficient – Wastage of time should be reduced.
• Equitable – Equal care should be provided to every patient.

What is quality health care?

The meaning of quality health care is not the same for all people. According to some patients, quality care is to consult a doctor, to get proper treatment from the staffs of a hospital and to have a physician who can spend much time with the patient. But all these things are secondary. Clinical quality of care is the most important thing because more lives can be saved by providing evidence-based and high quality care.

Does quality equal safety?

Yes, quality equals safety. The quality of care is to be improved by the health care providers because it can save more lives of the patients.

How is health care quality measured?

Outcome indicators and process indicators are the two ways of measuring quality of care. Timelines and baseline practices are measured by process indicators. Complication rates, mortality rates and infection rates are measured by outcome indicators.

These indicators can be looked at by the consumer to compare the hospitals. National accreditations, recognitions and state of the hospital should also be looked at by you to measure quality.

What are quality measures and quality indicators?

The process of converting the medical information of a patient into percentage or rate to analyze the quality of care provided by the hospitals to their patients is called a quality measure. You will be given information by quality measures about how the patients are provided care by the hospital. This quality information can be used by you to compare the quality care of different hospitals.

What role do nurses and doctors play?

A very important role is played by the doctors and nurses. Quality care should be provided by all the nurses and physicians, clinically and satisfactorily. All the staffs in a hospital such as the receptionist, scrub nurse, hospital administrator, physician and the X-ray technician are responsible in providing quality care to all the patients.

History Behind Cloud Computing in Healthcare

Cloud computing has come a long way across various phases. Clients can utilize web-based tools or applications through a web browser just as if they were programs installed locally on their own computer. Healthinformatics the wiki of Florida State University says “The term ‘cloud’ was coined as a metaphor for the Internet which originated from cloud figures representing telephone networks, then later followed by depicting Internet infrastructures in computer network maps/diagrams.”

Going back in time, we had the grid and utility computing, the application service provision (ASP), and then Software as a Service (SaaS). However, if you look back, the true concept of delivering computing resources through a global network is really rooted in the 60s. In the year 1969, J.C.R. Licklider through his article Intergalactic computer Network enabled the development of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). He seemed to project a vision that everyone on the globe be interconnected and access programs and data at any site. Others give credit to computer scientist John McCarthy who proposed the idea of computation being delivered as a public utility.

Since the 60s, cloud computing has evolved over a timeline. Web 2.0 being the most recent evolution. Point to note here is, the Internet only started to offer a significant bandwidth in the nineties. Hence cloud computing for everyone has been something of a recent development. If you have to trace a timeline it looks somewhat like this:

1999 – Salesforce.com (delivering enterprise applications via a simple website)

2002 – Amazon Web Services (providing a suite of cloud-based services including storage, computation and even human intelligence)

2006 – Amazon Elastic Compute cloud EC2 (allowing small companies and individuals to run their own computer applications on a commercial web service)

2007 – Google Docs (Web-based office suite, and data storage service)

There are several other factors that have enabled cloud computing to evolve. These include the virtualization technology, universal high-speed bandwidth, and established standards of universal software interoperability.

Increased storage, flexibility / scalability, and cost reduction are some of the valuable benefits that can be derived, as the prospect that almost anything can be delivered from the cloud, becomes more and more a reality. However security, data privacy, network performance and economics are still concerns that are being addressed through various models of cloud platform delivery such as the Private Cloud, Public Cloud, as well as the Hybrid Cloud solutions.

This brings us to Cloud’s footprints into Healthcare. While, as we have seen above, cloud computing has been around for decades. Hospitals and healthcare systems only recently began to adopt the flexibility, interoperability and affordability of cloud technologies, especially as they implement plans to utilize the federal government’s $20 billion-plus Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) financial incentive programs.

The cloud computing model is very well suited to healthcare applications due to the volume and varied sources of information, that is necessary to be accessed quickly and from any location. After all you have lives at stake. Whether it is for maintaining health records, monitoring of patients, collaboration with peers, prescribing medication, even analysis of data, we will see more and more of healthcare tapping into the cloud. With more attention on the security aspects of Cloud, compliance to Data Privacy standards, advanced interoperability and data sharing, and with a proper DR in place, the cloud can have a real positive impact on Healthcare.

The Positive Economic Impact of Preemptive Healthcare

The concept of preemptive healthcare is becoming increasingly prominent as we continue to move towards a more health-conscious society. Between the aging population, the obesity epidemic and the convenience and affordability of less-healthy food options, the country’s healthcare system is facing heavy burdens. Outside the realm of healthcare, a healthy population is a more productive population, and that translates into economic benefits for everyone.

Preemptive healthcare includes many proactive, healthy choices that you can make in your daily life. It means eating better and exercising more to keep your weight in check and decrease your chances of developing a medical condition that will require emergency or ongoing treatment. It means quitting smoking so you don’t spend your last years of life hooked up to tubes, unable to leave the confines of an around-the-clock clinic. It means taking deliberate and informed steps to reduce your risk for serious, chronic and potentially fatal diseases.

Study after study has shown that obesity is closely linked to a long list of morbidities and chronic health conditions. Those who are overweight are at increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoarthritis, asthma and many forms of cancer. Imagine the burden that could be removed from the nation’s healthcare network if preemptive interventions reduced the prevalence of obesity and prevented millions of people from developing these conditions! What’s more is that a population that smokes less, eats well and exercises more is healthier in mind as well as body.

The economic impact of healthy living stretches far beyond reducing the cost of providing healthcare to those in need. Healthier people make greater contributions to the economy, by missing fewer days at work and remaining productive through later stages of life. This creates a more prosperous country for everyone to enjoy, proof that the benefits of healthy living are about more than just you.

Another of the many benefits of healthy eating is that you can support local economies. By buying fresher, locally grown foods, you will provide a much-needed boost to regional farmers and help foster sustainable economic development.

Preemptive healthcare is a grassroots movement that is geared towards people in all stages of life. A great deal of attention is being paid to raising a healthier, more active generation of children, but it’s never too late to make positive changes for better health. You’ll be serving your own good as well as the greater good.

We all know how to be healthier: eat better, cut out unhealthy habits and exercise regularly. However, putting together a plan that works for you isn’t always easy. Good health is a marathon, not a sprint, and many people get frustrated and give up before they have a chance to see positive results, and that’s due in large part to a lack of guidance and proper planning.

A life coach provides you with the motivation and direction you need to create a plan for healthier living that you can stick to. Good health is as much a product of mind and spirit as it is of body, and that’s where you’ll find a life coach’s greatest value lies: in their ability to help you transform your way of thinking into positive improvements in every aspect of your life.

Trump Changes Healthcare With An Executive Order

Last week President Trump signed an executive order on health care, to cause momentum to change with the Affordable Care Act. Taking this action increases healthcare choices for millions of Americans. Having alternatives to Obamacare plans will help make things more affordable. How does that impact you? Let’s review the changes.

The order directs the Secretary of labor to consider to expand access to Association Health Plans (AHPs), which could allow employers to join forces across state lines.
Expanding coverage through low-cost, short-term health insurance plan beyond the 91-day restriction they have now.
Allow Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to be used as a tax-free vehicle for healthcare expenses including deductibles and copayments. This will also include reimbursement for health insurance premiums for non-group coverage.
The Trump administration will cut-off $7 billion in cost-sharing reduction payments to the insurance companies this year.
Note: The cost-sharing reduction is for out of pocket expenses, not the monthly premiums. Those who qualify for the monthly premium subsidy that will remain intact.

It is entirely possible that this could alter the direction of the Affordable Care Act. Many are seeing massive increases and more out-of-pocket. They are looking for alternatives, but they are drying up.

Many younger folks need lower cost health insurance for longer than 90 days, the current limit for the short-term medical plans. They cannot afford the premiums on the Exchange (or directly through a participating carrier). Many of them do not qualify for a tax credit due to the income being just high enough, even at $25,000 a year, to be eligible for any assistance from the government.

Others work for an employer willing to help but are not in a position to offer group health insurance for some reason. With some of the help from the employer, it will make it more affordable for their employees and create company loyalty. This is good as employers are competing for good talent.

The cost-sharing reduction subsidy is a political debate whether or not it was constitutional or not for President Obama to sign it in as an executive order after the Affordable Care Act was passed. Either way, you believe it, this subsidy was using taxpayer dollars that couldn’t be tracked by the IRS. Even with an IRS audit. It was in place for three years, and no one has made any attempts to reconcile it if someone was off on their income for the cost-sharing credit.

In the end, we are all working to making access to health care coverage easier and making it more affordable. The Affordable Care Act started to address it but didn’t finish. One can hope that what follows after this executive order will help move closer to that goal.

Scope Of Programmatic Buying In Healthcare Marketing

Data management programs enabled with technology has completely changed the way marketers buy media today. More and more companies are embracing technologies that facilitate media transactions in real-time and at a granular level. Programmatic buying ecosystem is at the core of this revolution and has triggered a paradigm shift from a conventional non-personalized mass media buying to targeted ad placements based on user behavior.

Programmatic buying means sale and purchase of media in real time in an automated manner through software and algorithms. Automation is real time and accurate to such extent that it not only saves time but also improves efficiencies in terms of ROIs and reaching a target audience with laser-guided precision.

While Programmatic buying has not yet taken the healthcare domain by storm, a buzz around the topic has started getting louder in recent times.

Media buying in healthcare quintessentially has been done in a traditional manner through sales teams approaching publishers either offline or online and then go through a long process RFQs, negotiations, preparing artworks and specs modifications, purchase indenting, vendor onboarding and eventually releasing payment. And all this convoluted process has to go through before the ad is even published. Hence there is a lag between purchase intent and actual media release. And that is what Programmatic is good at solving.

So how does Programmatic buying works and why hasn’t it caught the imaginations of healthcare marketer yet? Let us dig into details.

How does Programmatic Buying Works? The Programmatic Ecosystem

First, let us understand some commonly used terms used in the Programmatic Buying world and also how the Programmatic ecosystem actually works.

Step 1:

When a user clicks on a web page that has an advertising space on it, the publisher of the web page sends a cookie to user’s web browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Bing… whichever).

What is Cookie: Cookie, in simple terms, is a small data file that is sent from publisher’s web server to user’s web browser which serves to establish user’s identity

Step 2:

In case an inventory (advertising space on a web page) is available for sale, it triggers a request from publisher’s Ad Server to their Supply Side Platform (SSP) to fill the Ad slot

Definition of SSP: You may think of Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) like a library or storehouse of Ad Inventories available for placing your advertisement. It is a platform that connects sellers (web sites, blogs, directories etc.) with buyers or advertisers who compete against each other for available Ad space.

Some of the well-known supply side platforms are AppNexus, PubMatic, AOL or Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange.

Step 3:

SSP then issues a bid request to Demand Side Platform (DSP). This bid request contains information about the user who is about to see the Ad like her demographic profile, browsing history, etc. This information helps DSPs to make an informed decision about a user before making a bid.

What is a DSP? : Demand Side Platform or DSP, as they are referred in programmatic world, is a doorway to purchase advertising space in an automated fashion. Think of DSPs as advertiser’s gatekeepers who matches inventories with buyer’s marketing objectives. DSPs make bidding decision on behalf of a buyer after evaluating parameters like publisher’s profile, ad placement, the floor price of available impression, etc.).

Some of better-known DSPs include DoubleClick Bid Manager by Google, AdMission, MediaMath etc.

Step 4:

Based on the algorithm, DSPs assesses inventories to determine how valuable the impression is and whether to participate in the auction on behalf of an advertiser. If DSP decides to participate in bid auction, it sends a bid response back to SSP

Step 5:

SSP gathers all bid responses and picks a winner based on the second-price auction, that means, the one who bids slightly above the second highest bidder.

Step 6:

SSP notifies winning DSP and the DSP, in turn, sends Ad serving code to SSP. Finally, SSP passes on Ad serving code to user’s browser and renders the Ad. The Ad is then served along with other content on a web page.

And all these steps take place at a lightning speed at the back end while the page loads!

Types of Programmatic Buying

Programmatic Buying, as we know now, is automated buying of ad space on a web page. There are fundamentally 2 types of programmatic buying depending on whether the ad space or inventory is bought through auction (Auction based) or by paying a fixed rate to the publisher (fixed price).

Auction based:

Open auction: This is based on real-time auction-based bidding. Most prevalent of all programmatic buying

Invitation-only auction: This too is auction-based but bidding is limited to select advertisers selected by a publisher. More premium inventory sold at a higher price. Some publishers give ‘first look’ advantage to some advertisers before ad space is visible to others

Fixed priced:

Unreserved fixed rate: Price is prefixed but no ad space is set aside in advance

Automated guaranteed or Programmatic premium: This is an automated process of buying guaranteed ad space that doesn’t involve an auction, where the price is prefixed and impressions are guaranteed. Generally, this type is most premium of all types.

Scope of Programmatic Buying in Healthcare

Programmatic marketing has not taken healthcare industry by storm yet by any stretch of the imagination, especially so in India. Although this marketing phenomenon is discussed in marketing conferences and agency boardrooms but its role is still restricted to lexicons and concept rather than on actual spending of marketing dollars. Out of the global spending of USD 22 Bn on Programmatic buying in 2015, spending in India was a mere USD 25 M which makes it just above 1% share (Source: Media Global report cited in eMarketer )

By 2018, it’s projected that the healthcare industry will spend $2.2 billion on digital media. With roughly 40% of all media buys being programmatic, healthcare marketers have a great opportunity on their hands. Not only is programmatic the new buzzword, but it is estimated that 70% of all media buys will be programmatic in 2016. That’s significant growth over two years.

Healthcare media buying in India is still predominantly done through traditional spray-and-pray, at best loosely targeted media campaigns involving humans (read- sales team) that negotiate with publishers or media agencies to buy ad space or inventory. Programmatic buying, on the other hand, allows precision and previously unthought-of granularity to reach target customers with better engagement and lower costs. Let me present some real life scenarios to bring home the impact of Programmatic Buying in a healthcare setting.

Imagine you are visiting nearby pharmacy store to buy sugar control medication after doing some online search about medicines dosage and side effects. Suddenly your smartphone buzzes. Curious to know, you check your inbox and find email message inviting you to take a free diabetes check-up at a Clinic just a block away from where you are.

Almost scary, isn’t it! Well, this is what Programmatic can do. It reaches your predefined customers or audience at the right moment with a right message. And all this happens in milliseconds in an automated fashion, thanks to footprints, or say Cookies, you left while searching the web.

Programmatic buying has changed the approach from rendering same advertising message to millions of customers to creating a unique message for individual customers based on her need at that moment of time. A proof of concept for this could be how health insurance could be bought using a Programmatic platform.

While you were renewing health insurance policy online for your parents, an ad banner flashed across your laptop screen proclaiming to offer better coverage with add-ons at a lesser premium. The message is so timely and apt that you could not resist but clicking the ad. It feels that ‘someone’ is following your foot trails online. It turns out that there is indeed ‘someone’ that follow users to deliver messages that are very apt and timely.

Data gathering at forefront of Programmatic advertising

In a way, data analytics is the lifeblood of automated buying. Although an enormous amount of data is gathered in the healthcare industry, for instance, a hospital, hardly any of it is used effectively to build effective data-driven strategy.

First party data sources in hospitals like patient registration kiosk of Hospital Information System, CRMs or a Website can be used to capture customer intent by placing a cookie on customer’s browser which can then follow and track a customer’s online journey and place meaningful and compelling messages to drive engagement with patients or customers. This primary data along with a second-party data from affiliates or online subscription agencies and third-party data bought from outside data aggregators like telecom companies, other CRMs etc., is clustered to form homogenous group of audiences having similar traits like age, web browsing history, online purchases, content sharing on social media, medical content consumed, etc.

Let us conjure up a probable scenario for a hospital that is about to launch Diabetes Management Program and wants to reach targeted audience using their primary data base gathered over past years. Data points like e-mail address and contact numbers of patients undergoing care under endocrinologist would become a good audience pool to run targeted messages using GSP (Gmail Sponsored Promotions) or RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) campaigns. While a GSP would enable messages to be delivered to prospective patient’s Gmail inbox, the RLSA campaign would ensure that message is rendered on user’s SERPs wherever they go online.

The best part of programmatic advertising is that it can integrate all media delivery options and deliver the message to right audiences wherever they live online be it video, search ads, mobile, display or social media. Such media optimization gets a captive and engaged audience to marketers resulting in maximum value out of marketing dollar spent.

Say you want to target women in their early 40s living in North Bangalore for promoting breast cancer screening. Programmatic-way of doing this is deliver your message to the in-market audience directly by capturing basic patient’s intent and then tracking their online behavior. For instance, say 45-year old women who visited your Oncology web page and is searching information online on “prevention of breast cancer”.

Programmatic Buying allows you to cater to your specific target audience who is at the far end of buyer’s journey and has a higher propensity of buying if your message touches their cord. Programmatic Buying helps to track investment or in other words, makes returns attributable. Advertising has become a niche endeavor and Programmatic Buying has come as a potent tool in marketers purpose to unravel key steps to niche marketing.

Challenges of Programmatic buying in healthcare

Programmatic Buying comes with its share of challenges and unethical practices that digital marketers have to stand guard against. Such bad practices permeate across the Programmatic ecosystem and are omnipresent across industries including healthcare.

In a highly regulated healthcare sector, these challenges are even more evident. So let me address some burning issues plaguing the Programmatic Buying in healthcare

1) Restrictions on retargeting: Hospital industry has been slow to adapt programmatic buying because medical ethics restrict any form of advertising to patients, even the audience retargeting using cookies

2) Ad misplacement: Ad placement while trying to reach a prospect, say a Physician in a non-clinical environment like a Game Center or Expedia Travel site may actually dilute importance of brand and message

3) Control: As previously mentioned, Demand Side Platforms are aggregators of inventory and make them available for Advertisers. However, in healthcare industry, not many reputed medical publishers like PubMed, WebMD, The Lancet, NEJM etc. may renounce control over their inventory to let open ad ecosystem like Programmatic take over. That is the reason why most medical publishers still prefer reserved, non-auction based on programmatic buying like either Programmatic Direct.

4) Higher costs: Due to publisher’s reluctance towards open-auction bidding in healthcare for reasons stated above, cost per impression (CPM) is higher than in other industries like retail and travel.

5) Inventory scale: Since ad spaces on medical sites is limited and finite, mostly they are bought via direct 1-to-1 Publisher-Advertiser model leading to inflated CPMs and suboptimal performance parameters (read ROI)

6) Stale-on-Sale:General impression is that a media bought through Programmatic model is often a leftover, remnant inventory. This is not entirely untrue in healthcare either. Media space buying in healthcare predominantly is either through direct buyout involving humans or direct buyout involving automation, called the Programmatic Direct. Hence, what is left is a less coveted, tier-2 inventory. Although buying this inventory may help derive engagement at much lower cost.

7) Private Healthcare Ad Exchanges:In view of medical data security, misplacements and privacy issues in healthcare, some proponents of exclusive healthcare ad exchanges have emerged. In fact there are already some media buying platforms in healthcare like MM&M, Compas etc. that allow automated buying to healthcare publishers. However, given that transparency and neutrality of open buying platform would be compromised with such agencies, there is little incentive for advertisers to work with such private ad exchanges. Besides, scale and inventory available with such private exchanges is also limited compared to full-service media agencies.

Aside these challenges that are specific to healthcare industry, Programmatic Buying has some inherent issues that are pervasive across industries. Such as some outlined below:

8) Non-human traffic: Non-human traffic or the NHT as is commonly referred in Programmatic world is the most prevalent form of fraud whereby programs imitate desired online behavior and register false matrices like impressions, views or clicks. Bots pretend to be actual humans while actually they are piece of malware that inflates the performance matrices by masquerading as organic activity. Common examples of this is paid ‘likes’ or ‘+1s’ on social media.

9) Viewability: Viewability is the probability of an ad to be seen. Many times a large proportion of impressions that advertisers pay for goes unseen either due to below-the-fold placement or user might scroll a page too quickly to see the ad.

Ad blocking: Today’s sophisticated programs allow users to remove advertising while browsing the internet or using apps. Most publishers and professional bloggers depend on advertising as the main source of their revenue. And with ad blocking in place, a blogger would lose an incentive to create free-to-consume content unless the alternate stream of revenue is available to them. Likewise, publisher websites lose interest since their revenue model based on content-for-advertising is compromised

In conclusion:

Programmatic buying has been a prominent inclusion in marketer’s quiver since last decade. Healthcare industry has been slow to wake up to this phenomenon due to industry-specific challenges. However, adoption of data, involvement of social media companies and proliferation of healthcare specific ad networks to manage automated buying in healthcare would only mitigate these challenges.

The healthcare sector including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies would be wise to consider programmatic buying as part of a core marketing strategy and move from broad, segment-based marketing to specific fine-grained messages crafted to attract, nurture and convert potential customers or patients.

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