“If you try being everything to everyone, you run the risk of being nothing to no one.”
– the oldest marketing quote in the book
HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY OVERVIEW
It’s not just a tagline: integrative is the future of healthcare
Deloitte’s 2019 Health Care Industry Outlook describes a huge shift in U.S. healthcare demand:
“away from a system of sick care in which we treat patients after they fall ill, to one of health care which supports well-being, prevention, and early intervention… Clinical innovations, patient preferences, and government program payment policies are prompting hospitals to shift certain services to alternative points of care and even to virtual environments that benefit from a cost and access perspective.”
The Stanford Social Innovation Review reports: “Platforms that provide a way for patients, caregivers, and staff to share stories and develop solutions across the health system are disrupting traditional hierarchies in medicine.’’
That sums up what is currently called Integrative, Functional, Precision, Regenerative, Holistic, or Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) healthcare – which is practiced by the majority of WebToMed clients.
Now that 70% of Americans are aware of CAM’s efficacy, Mayo Clinic has declared: “Integrative medicine: Alternative becomes mainstream”. The Cleveland Clinic has partnered with the country’s top functional medicine doctor. More and more CAM treatments are covered by major health insurers like Aetna and Kaiser Permanente every year, and the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Harvard Medical School has begun educating the doctors of the future.
CAM: not so “alternative” anymore
Whatever U.S. Googlers want to call it….
(alternative medicine: 33,100 searches + holistic medicine: 40,500 + integrative medicine: 27,100 + precision medicine: 18,100 + allopathic medicine: 12,100 + herbal medicine: 49,500 + ashwagandha: 673,000 + adaptogen: 7,000 + cordyceps sinensis: 18,100 + panax: 50,000 + chiropractor near me: 50,000 + PRP hair treatment: 18,100 + acupuncture points: 22,200 + acupuncture near me: 12,800 + bioidentical hormones: 18,100 + natural remedies for headaches: 18,100 + what is CAM: 6,600 + complementary medicine: 5,400 + complementary and alternative medicine: 5,400 + holistic therapist: 9,900 + holistic detox: 3,900 + uses of stem cells: 6,600 + holistic health practitioner: 2,900 + holistic approach to health: 1,000 + herbal medicines and their uses: 1,900 + stem cell therapy for arthritis: 1,600 + stem cell therapy for knees: 1,300 + holistic health definition: 1,900 + alternative medicine definition: 1,900 = 1,118,100 total searches)
….they will spend $35 billion on it this year alone.
Who are they?
“People shop and learn in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago, so marketers need to adapt or risk extinction.” –Brian Halligan, founder & CEO of HubSpot
Roughly three out of four Americans currently take some kind of supplement that’s outside the medical mainstream. A 2018 survey found more than 90% of American adults living with chronic pain seek natural, non-opioid treatments.
Doctors Health Press reports that 70% of adults over 50 (Baby Boomers) use some form of CAM medicine. However, according to AARP, 69% of those surveyed said they had not discussed their CAM use with their primary physician.
According to an American Psychological Association study and a Zoc Doc survey, 93% of Millenials do not schedule preventative healthcare visits with primary care physicians. They do their own research online, mostly visiting health blogs and chat rooms for CAM solutions. They trust friends, family, social media, blogger and podcast influencers – not traditional medical institutions and authority figures – for general, non-emergency care.
Gen Xers tend not to be brand loyalists, according to Ragan’s Health Care Communication News. Surveys consistently show that they have short term relationship expectations when it comes to health care. They expect to change health care providers to best suit their needs. Generation X is the first generation to go from health care patients to health care consumers.
According to the Pew Research Center there were 71 million Millennials (20-35 year olds) and 74 million Boomers (52-70 year olds) in the U.S. in 2016. During 2019 Millennials are expected to overtake Boomers as their numbers swell to 73 million and Boomers decline to 72 million. That’s a potential market of 145 million Americans who are likely to prefer internet research and CAM treatments to primary physicians and pharmaceuticals for general care.
Healthcare providers (HCPs) are scrambling to fill demand. Today, the majority of American OBGYNs offer at least one alternative medicine modality, and primary physicians are beginning to integrate acupuncture, PRP, and BHRT into their standard medical practice. Even the traditional medicine stalwart, Mayo Clinic, has published a CAM handbook. More and more physicians like Dr. Anthony Youn, are incorporating it into their practice, or, like Dr. Sara Gottfried, switching over to it full time and becoming best-selling authors.
How do these statistics play out in real (Google) life?
The buyer’s journey: looking for short cuts
Health IT Analytics recently published a Yext Patient Search Behavior report. When asked what resources they used when selecting a healthcare provider, only 17% said provider profiles, while 54% searched healthcare articles. What does this mean for HCPs? They need content.
“Fewer patients are going directly to physician profile pages for information, but the content on your website still plays a crucial role in helping your information surface in search. Make sure your content is appropriately tagged with Schema markup…which describes website content in a way that search engines can understand — so your content will be more likely to show up for a relevant search.”
The vast variety of available CAM treatments seems to be splintering broad, traditional medical searches into smaller, more specialized ones. People are seeking in-depth explanations about how their body functions, and how specific treatments function on it. Or, they’re seeking recommendations from a trusted friend who’s already done so.
Let’s look at diabetes, one of the fastest growing diseases in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control over 100 million American adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes. What are they searching for?
Traditional medicine searches include: diabetes management: 9,900 searches + new diabetes medications: 4,400 + endocrinologist diabetes: 2,900 + best doctor for diabetes: 1000 = 18,200 total searches. These searches serve up conventional mainstream sites that feature “there-is-no-cure-for-any-diabetes-you-must-take-meds-for-life” type content.
Now let’s look at some less general, more segmented, niche-driven CAM searches:
“how is diabetes prevented”: 18,100 + “diabetes treatment in Ayurveda”: 2,900 + “how to reduce sugar level home remedies”: 2,900 + “how to cure diabetes naturally at home”: 1,600 + “diabetes treatment at home”: 1,300 + “side effects of diabetes medication”: 1,300 + “how to cure diabetes permanently”: 1,300 + “how to cure diabetes naturally without medication”: 1,000 + “effective home remedies for diabetes”: 1,000 + “type 2 diabetes treatment without medication”: 1,000 + “the blood sugar solution 10 day detox diet” (Dr. Mark Hyman’s best-seller that’s helped thousands manage diabetes): 35,000 = 67,400 total searches.
The majority of WtM clients (past, present and currently being pitched) work in Dr. Hyman’s CAM space, servicing patients who seek preventative/minimally invasive/non-pharma care. Even the Xtelligent Healthcare Media is publishing white papers about the cost benefits of pharmaceutical-free diabetes reversal.
Like investment consultants who diversify a portfolio for lower risk / higher yield, targeting multiple popular “micro-searches” – in our client profiles and in our patient education library – appears to be the most strategic approach.