Health & Wellness This Week

Health and Wellness Trends for 2014 + Apple’s Health App and HealthKit

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.

  • The latest version of the Healthcare Marketers Trends Report – how healthcare marketers are spending, who they’re targeting, what channels they’re using, and challenges and opportunities.
  • The Natural and Organic Food Trends for 2014 report – insights on what consumers are looking for in health foods and what matters to them.
  • Apple – finally announced their Health App and HealthKit, with key partnerships.

Healthcare Marketers Trends Report 2014

Healthcare Marketers Trend Report 2014 is the second from MM&M/Ogilvy CommonHealth, detailing industry shifts and perspectives in healthcare marketing. The report is based on an online survey of 202 qualified senior executives (director level and above) at pharma, biotech, devices, and diagnostics companies.


This year, 42% of respondents reported increases in budgets for patient marketing and 39% increase in budgets for physician marketing. The report also notes changes to the marketing mix: “broadly speaking, the marketing mix appears to be turning on its head.” The channels where marketers report the most increased budgets reflect the shift toward digital, with websites (35.6% reported an increase), search engine optimization marketing (33.7%), social media (32.7%), and digital ads (30.2%). The report also shows that 60.4% of medium-large companies and 47.5% of small companies view social media as an opportunity.

Marketing Strategy Insight

The Healthcare Marketing Trends Report 2014 provides more detailed data to support greater shifts in the industry that many healthcare marketers are becoming aware of. Healthcare marketers are allocating budget to account for the rise of the patient and adoption of digital channels. As this becomes universal, using current technologies to reach patients will become the standard, and companies who do not adopt these strategies and tactics will look outdated and out of touch. Because website design and development and social media strategy and implementation are processes that take time, it’s important to plan ahead instead of waiting until you’re already behind. While it may be hard to get your internal team to accept this cultural shift and adopt process changes, it’s something you can’t afford to do later. For example, if you’re planning on creating a website, it’s critical to invest in a responsive site. Not only will responsive sites soon become ubiquitous, but also their adoption is driven by a common need – to be found online and reach users on every device. It’s best to allocate resources wisely where you can make the best investment, and you’ll get the most value from a site that is designed to work well on any type of device, as opposed to investing in a non-responsive site that doesn’t load properly on smartphones or tablets.

Apple Teams Up With Mayo Clinic In Pursuit of Digital Health Domination

Apple recently made the official announcement of the new Health App and HealthKit. The Health App will give users all their health information aggregated in a dashboard easily accessible on the iPhone home screen. This will allow users to keep track of health information such as glucose levels and heart rate and serve as an information hub that can be shared across an entire app ecosystem. In addition, the app will let healthcare providers send and receive data from your checkups. HealthKit is a healthcare data API that will facilitate health app development and integrate data from wearable devices such as Fitbit, Jawbone, and Nike Fuelband.

The company also announced a partnership with The Mayo Clinic, which will allow the two well-established companies to benefit from each other’s respective expertise and resources. The Mayo Clinic has already created an app to integrate with HealthKit.

Craig Federighi, Apple SVP of Software Engineering, described some of the ways the integration with Mayo Clinic would work.

“We’re also working with the Mayo Clinic, innovators in healthcare,”he said. “And with their integration with HealthKit, they’re going to be able to — when a patient takes a blood pressure reading, HealthKit automatically notifies their app. And their app is automatically able to check whether that reading is in that patients’ personalized healthcare parameters threshold. And if not, it can contact the hospital proactively, notify a doctor, and that doctor can reach back to that patient, providing more timely care.”

In addition, the company worked with EHR provider Epic Systems, who has also developed integration with HealthKit.

Apple sells wearable devices, including Fitbit, Jawbone, and the Nike Fuelband in its own stores, so they know exactly how popular they’ve become. Mobihealth news also noted that it is still unknown how many high-profile execs that Apple has snagged have been working on HealthKit, and how many are possibly working on the rumored iWatch.

Marketing Strategy Insight

Apple’s play to take ownership of the digital health market is a sign of mainstream adoption of digital health and a good indication of the opportunity in the market. The move to simply name the app, “Health,”signifies the tech giant’s play to own mindshare in the category. Because Apple owns a large part of the smartphone market in the U.S., they have the ability to speed up adoption of digital health apps among mainstream consumers. At the very least, Apple will be helping to increase awareness of digital health. Every new iPhone will come pre-loaded with the Health app on its home screen, and users who upgrade to iOS 8 will also get the app. Apple’s move to integrate data and digital health players in the market may be indicative of larger-scale macro trends toward consolidation and integration of the entire patient experience. We’re already seeing lots of consolidation in the healthcare market with many mergers and acquisitions, driven by changes in the healthcare economy. Branding is a key factor for mergers and acquisitions because a brand strategy defines the value proposition and unifies every aspect of a company to provide a consistent experience.

Health Conscious Consumers Look for Healthy Alternatives

Natural and Organic Food Trends for 2014, a report compiled by Sterling-Rice Group, details what health-conscious consumers are looking for in food products. The trends include lentils, digestive health, beets, whole grain beverages, bee-free honey, nutrition-packed toppings, humane treatment of animals, African superfoods, GMO-free, and algae milk.

Marketing Strategy Insight

As consumers become more aware of the food they eat and the implications on their bodies, there’s a higher demand for more nutritious, wholesome products as part of an overall active, healthy lifestyle. Because of the ACA and changing healthcare economy, overall healthy lifestyle and preventative care is becoming more important, and this is expected to gain momentum as these changes continue to take place. Companies will need to truly get into the minds of consumers to understand their needs, wants, and what appeals to them.

As more products are introduced to the market and consumers take a more holistic approach to eating healthy, the process of buying food will become increasingly complex. This potentially creates an opportunity for companies who are able to connect with consumers to market their products in a way that simplifies things and creates an easy, feel-good buying process. As the market gets more cluttered, an effective messaging strategy will become increasingly important as well.

Wrap Up

For all companies in health and wellness, there’s a need to truly understand consumer needs, wants, desires, and preferences. We are experiencing the age of the empowered consumer, whether it’s a patient getting a medical device or a mom purchasing nutrition bars. People want to purchase products and services that have meaning to them, that add value, and that address their specific needs. Not only do you need to understand consumers and how to appeal to them, but you also need effective messaging that aligns with these needs and resonates on a deeper level.

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