While adoption of digital health technology by hospitals and other healthcare organisations has been as phenomenal as the rapid progress in digital health itself, much of this acceptance comes from the ‘early adopters’. Health vendors still have much work to do to encourage the majority of remaining hospitals to fully embrace the digital technology.
Marketing digital health technology can be challenging because the products and services that fall under digital technology are diverse and vendors need to interact with multiple departments of the hospitals resulting in lack of coordination.
For example, many IT-centric tools do not take nurses and doctors into account and may invite a negative response from them. Similarly, deploying an IT solution without informing IT department may attract non-cooperation, or even termination, from them. And an enterprise-wide service or product such as remote patient monitoring requires initiative from the highest levels of decision-making in the organisation.
Secondly, the newness of the technology itself acts as a barrier in its adoption as people prefer to continue to do things the same way as they always did before. Doctors may be reluctant to replace face-to-face communication with online communication. Or they may prefer to read health data the good old way on monitors instead of mobiles and iPads. Nurses may have trouble with the steep learning curve required in the use of some medical devices.
To overcome these hurdles and navigate the hospital labyrinth, digital health vendors need to adopt a multi-level strategy. A major hospital or healthcare organisation may have anywhere from 6-10 decision makers and usually come with different senses of prioritisation and decision-making criteria.
To break through this inertia, health vendors need to apply what is called 3-3-7 marketing rule, which means approaching each decision maker, in a targeted fashion, via at least three mediums over three months with at least seven exposures. Employing different mediums (in-person meeting, web, mail, phone, events, etc.) to register your marketing message brings synergy. Research reveals that, given the tight schedules of hospital executives, at least seven exposures are needed to close a sale.
Technology adoption research says that a winning value proposition should bring 3 to 9 times better results than the old technology to persuade users to break out of habitual usage patterns and inertia barrier. When selling digital technology, it helps to stress on the benefits it brings in a quantifiable manner – quoting the percentage of time it saves or specific average costs it reduces – than focussing solely on its newness.
Always define what success looks like and feels like in visual and kinaesthetic language than simply listing out the salient features of the product. Present the product from their point of view than a product developer’s point of view. ‘’You can view all the health data on a single screen without turning your head to check all the monitors thus saving you time and energy during surgeries that demand high concentration’’ works better than “This system combines data from different devices and presents it on a single screen” as the former value proposition focuses on benefit and the later on feature.
In most cases, there will always be few people who champion new technology inside any organisation. Focus on them to present your case of digital health technology. But keep in mind that different decision-makers have different approaches and you must tailor your case to suit each one of them.
For example, focus on ROI and reduced costs when pitching your product to finance people, better health outcomes to management, better healthcare solutions to doctors and ease of use to support staff and caregivers.
Finally, create an internal marketing dossier for each product to identify the best practices and handle frequently cited objections your future clients may make. Use as much evidence-based research as possible to pitch new technology strongly to all prospective customers.