Step into a hospital anywhere in the western world and you are in all likelihood to run into an Indian doctor sooner than later. The medical education system in India churns out doctors in large numbers and many of them choose to go abroad for advanced training and skills enhancement. Many of these settle down in the new country, which is more than happy to welcome highly educated and skilled doctors to its shores. It works well for the doctors too, they learn new things, train in some of the finest institutions in the world and than are able to make a decent living in their adopted country.
This is the way it was till recently.
Now with India making rapid strides in healthcare and even attracting patients from across the globe, many of these doctors are choosing to return to India. They are able to find employment in the new high tech hospitals, which have sprung up in the last 8-10 years. The reasons for this are not far to seek. Indian hospitals can now easily be compared with any that they might have worked in earlier, in the west, the standard of care is often superior, the financial rewards far better than what they were a few years ago, and life in upmarket urban India quite comfortable. Moreover, India is home for many with responsibilities for aging parents. Some are also not comfortable with their children growing up seeped in the ubiquitous and consumerist western culture.
All this is great, except for the fact that some find going in India quite tough. The hospitals that employ the returning prodigals, soon realise that these doctors will take time to settle down and find their feet in the changed Indian environment. Having been away for years they do not have a bank of patients, who can start patronising the hospital. Often their salaries are more than those hired from other Indian hospitals and with no patient base to speak off, these doctors are immediately under pressure to justify their high salaries. They usually need urgent Marketing support. Continue reading
Obesity is fast becoming a global epidemic. While so far the disease has largely been limited to the developed world, it is now rapidly spreading its wings to countries like India, where increasing affluence and prosperity is driving huge lifestyle changes.
Obesity is a disease of the affluent. The link is easy to establish. The intake far exceeds the requirement. In Indians, latest research also indicates the presence of a gene, which converts excess food into fats and deposits it in the abdomen. Thus the normal paunchy Indian, (I dare say pretty much like me!) can blame his genes as well as his lifestyle for his ample girth.
Obesity has been recognised as the underlying cause of many a disease including diabetes, coronary heart disease, joint and spine related problems, and liver diseases. The fight against obesity is now becoming a huge challenge and is a great opportunity for healthcare services marketers.
Here is what they can do to win this battle. Continue reading
Schools have become new battle grounds for all kinds of marketers pushing soaps, candies, cosmetics, toothpastes, music and a new exhilarating lifestyle to the youngsters. The schools view most of this as frivolous and wholly unnecessary and often resist it. Sometimes the marketing effort is cloaked in interesting events, which are entertaining and educative. Schools allow these and healthcare marketers are able to reach out to school kids through School Health Quizes, talks on diet, exercise, hygiene and healthy lifestyle habits.
Some may be wary of allowing healthcare marketers to reach out to school kids. Children are generally healthy, it is a carefree time and weighty matters like healthcare should really be no concern to them. I am not sure I agree with this line of thinking. I would have a kid grow up in an environment, which helps him make ‘healthier’ choices. As a kid I was taught the benefits of ‘early to bed and early to rise’. I still swear by it.
Healthcare Marketers can reach out to schools, with specially designed programs, which educate and inform about how healthy choices made early, allow for a healthier lifestyle later on. This should really be looked upon as an investment by the hospital in a long relationship. To expect instant monetary rewards from a school program is expecting the moon. Persistence is the key here.
Some of the engagement programs that hospitals can run with schools are highlighted here. Continue reading
Outreach Programs are essential weapons in the armoury of a healthcare marketer. The programs are widely used for creating awareness about the hospital’s services amongst people, who live in communities away from the hospital. Quite often these programs also serve as screening services for more serious disorders and the hospital naturally hopes to attract some of the patients requiring higher end diagnostics and treatment to its doors.
Very often the communities served by the outreach programs are either rural or semiurban, where the availability of good quality, modern healthcare is very limited. These communities too hugely benefit from these outreach programs as they get access to good quality healthcare services. Continue reading
Marketing a hospital to those in the neighbourhood is often looked upon as the ‘low hanging fruit’ by many a marketer. The thinking goes something like this. ‘We have just started a great hospital and those in the neighbourhood cannot help but notice the swanky chrome and glass exteriors and the blazing signages on the top of the 10 floor edifice. We have world beating technology and some of the most competent and respected doctors joining us. We are streets ahead of all those who have been in this neighbourhood for years and we really do not consider them as competition. All those who have been living in this community will now flock to us.’
Honestly, this is a recipe for disaster, yet so many of us marketers are so blinded by our spanking new hospital that we do not see anything beyond it. Continue reading