Big Companies Enter Healthcare | Health & Wellness This Week

This article is part of ParkerWhite’s weekly series, “Health and Wellness This Week,” a roundup of the latest healthcare marketing news and what it means for your marketing strategy.There has been a lot of talk about the problems in healthcare and the opportunity for disruption. When there’s significant enough opportunity to rock the market and make money, the biggest players enter the arena. We’ve already seen Google and Apple make big steps into healthcare, and this week brought news of Facebook and Walmart’s intentions in the healthcare space.

This week we look at:

  • Facebook has plans to engage within the healthcare space
  • Walmart announces plans to offer health insurance
  • The latest E&Y report on the healthcare space shows increasing pressure of commoditization

Facebook Considering a Healthcare Play

Numerous rumors have swirled around the idea of Facebook moving toward a healthcare offering, and Paul Tunnah of pharmaphorum provided his opinion on the issue. Facebook is supposedly looking to get into the healthcare space with a two-pronged approach that would include patient communities and preventative care applications to help patients manage their health. Tunnah’s first comment is that these are not new concepts. He suggests Facebook might add value by aggregating data to connect patients with similar conditions (patient communities) and using the depth of demographic data they have to provide extremely targeted apps.

Marketing Strategy Insight

  • Once again the appeal of solving a problem in healthcare has attracted some of the largest corporations in the world – the competitive pressure in healthcare is only going to get more intense
  • Hopefully this will result in raising standards within the entire healthcare industry
  • While Tunnah has a good point about Facebook’s ability to leverage data, he’s forgetting that Facebook has the largest audience of captivated users to tap into and centrality is valuable
  • The biggest threat here may be to brands trying to engage patients for their own benefit – patients may be more likely to accept Facebook as a facilitator of community (something they already do) than they would a pharmaceutical or medical device brand
  • The challenge for healthcare brands will be to have a strong presence on social media and most importantly, to maintain authenticity and transparency to foster high quality, long-term relationships

Walmart Aiming to “Be Number One Healthcare Provider in the Industry”

A partnership with will bring licensed agents to about half of Walmart’s stores, allowing people to shop for health insurance. The program is titled Healthcare Begins Here, and will be executed similar to the way the company went about retail clinics. Their intention to provide health insurance aligns with their shift toward positioning themselves for healthcare, including launching a generic drug program, testing out retail clinics, and speaking at healthcare conferences.

Marketing Strategy Insight

  • As the potential for disruption becomes bigger, companies with huge commercial weight will continue to enter the industry with the incentive of profit – we’ve already seen Apple and Google enter the healthcare industry
  • Healthcare companies will have to continue to adapt to this shift in the consumerism of healthcare – they won’t be able to get away with outdated behavior that ignores consumers (patients) anymore, because the entrance of commercial giants will raise the standards of the entire industry

E&Y Report: Medtech holds steady, but price concerns outpace design for customers

A new report from Ernst and Young details the struggles of the healthcare industry as it moves toward increased commoditization. “As purchasing decisions become increasingly centralized and influence shifts from physicians to hospital administrators and managers, the historical value drivers for purchasing a device — brand, quality and design — will lessen, leaving price as a main consideration,” E&Y’s Global Life Sciences Leader Glen Giovannetti said in a statement. Giovannetti thinks companies who want to differentiate themselves will need to design and market their products at lower costs, while simultaneously proving better patient outcomes.

Marketing Strategy Insight

  • Medical device manufacturers will need to differentiate and clearly communicate their value proposition
  • Strong brands will help companies stand out from the noise, resonate deeper with consumers, and stay memorable
Big Companies Enter Healthcare & Wellness This Week - PW