Dr. House tells Marketers: “It’s Time to push Telemedicine!”

You’d think the current pandemic is the “transformative event” that would drive aggressive adoption of telemedicine for patients, providers and physicians. While hospitals have expanded teleservices these past few months, the trend data actually suggest that for many medical specialties there was significant adoption of this approach pre-Covid, and therefore the biggest obstacle to adoption until recent Covid-driven de-regulations has been regulatory (lack of reimbursement for teleservices), rather than behavior-based (entrenched “gotta visit the doctor’s office”) activities addressed through good marketing.

Regulators are currently solving for (we hope) the reimbursement issues, driven by Covid. But how can marketers help promote — during and post-Covid — the benefits of telemedicine?

In three main ways:

First, we can help promote telemedicine’s cost-savings and convenience to patients and providers alike — especially for routine and preventative care situations, and ongoing therapeutic monitoring that place enormous financial strain on the current system. These messages combined with the fear of catching Covid during a hospital visit can be used in a positive way to convert existing awareness of telemedicine into usage…

Second, we can create and expand a market for robotic sensing technologies that will make existing telemedicine efforts more effective — messaging the effectiveness of (and training people to engage with) systems that can capture and transmit heart and lung sounds, cameras that can zoom in on body parts for a closer exam, to name just a couple examples. Building on the existing work of innovators like Withings, we can harness our nation’s love of new technology to keep the Covid curve flat while improving preventative care…

Third, we can borrow a page from “Dr. House,” whose approach to differential diagnosis usually involved checking out the patient’s surroundings. What does this mean? Letting doctors “Zoom-in” to see patients in their surroundings and offer specific advice to help better health outcomes. A few years back I worked with a client who helped patients recover from orthopedic surgeries by encouraging simple changes to where their furniture was placed — which greatly helped recovery and rehabilitation outcomes. A tradeoff between privacy and medical insight can and should ensue, controlled by patients of course …

In sum, there will be significant challenges to fully embracing telemedicine across our healthcare system, even with the accelerant of Covid on behaviors and cost-structures. What is becoming clearer, however, is that greater numbers of people are using digital technologies like Zoom and TikTok to “let others in” to their lives and their homes … personally, I could use a little LESS insight into people’s homes … but regardless, we marketers can help channel existing behaviors to position telemedicine better for healthier outcomes for all...

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Marketing strategy, communications, and digital.

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Robert Bachle

Robert Bachle

Marketing strategy, communications, and digital.

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