Steve HalseySteve Halsey

The digital age has irreversibly changed the way industries operate, and healthcare is no exception. As this sector speeds towards personalization and precision in care, communicators find themselves at the crossroads of both challenges and opportunities. The evolving trends define not just the path healthcare organizations should adopt but also how communicators strategize and execute their narratives.

G&S Business Communications delved into this phenomenon to understand it better. On September 21, 2023, we conducted a survey involving 284 U.S. adults. The objective was to tap into the pulse of consumer expectations and feelings regarding personalization, convenience, and workplace culture in healthcare delivery.

A snapshot of our findings

The data gathered painted a clear picture of what the modern healthcare consumer craves. A remarkable 47 percent emphasized that personalized care, designed around their unique needs and preferences, tops their list of expectations from healthcare providers. Their perception of healthcare has evolved, influenced by other sectors. Nearly half—49 percent—articulated their desire for healthcare experiences to mirror those they have with banks, grocery stores, and online retailers. They underscored the importance of quick access to information, seamless interactions, and convenience. An interesting revelation was the weight consumers placed on organizational culture. Of respondents, 42 percent voiced that it’s absolutely essential for healthcare organizations to adapt their workforce culture to resonate with the digital age’s demands. And, that same percentage said that workforce culture directly impacts patient care.

As communicators, it’s our prerogative to translate these insights into actionable strategies. Let’s delve into the top five trends and their implications for modern-day healthcare communicators.

This article is featured in O'Dwyer's October '23 Healthcare & Medical PR Magazine
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The power of personalized messaging

Gone are the days when generic messages sufficed. Today’s patients, equipped with vast information sources, yearn for communication that speaks to them. They want to feel seen and understood. The pivot towards tailored healthcare solutions, with treatments designed around individual patients, has set the stage for expectations in communication.

Implication: This trend mandates a deeper dive into data analytics and audience segmentation. As communicators, we need to craft nuanced narratives. It’s about sculpting a core message, then tweaking it to cater to varied demographic or psychographic profiles. Mastery over big data analytics becomes paramount, bridging the gap between what patients want to hear and what healthcare institutions wish to convey.

The digital ecosystem confluence

Today, the boundaries separating PR, digital marketing, and social media have grown fuzzy. These domains converge as patients seek a unified digital experience, spanning websites, social media platforms, and even virtual health consultations.

Implication: Siloed strategies won’t cut it anymore. We need to conceive integrated campaigns that dovetail into the broader digital blueprint. To win, we must harmonize communications strategies to ensure that the patient’s journey, from information-seeking to actual care, is seamless.

Racing against time

In today’s hyper-connected world, news travels fast, and so do opinions, reviews, and crises. The digital age demands swiftness, but not at the cost of precision.

Implication: Preparedness becomes the cornerstone of modern communications. Real-time monitoring tools, agile response teams, and crystalline crisis communication blueprints need to be in place. Moreover, regular drills simulating potential crises will ensure that teams are primed to tackle real-life challenges.

Building blocks of trust

Trustworthiness is the bedrock of the healthcare sector. The digital age, marked by an overflow of information, has made patients more discerning. They seek transparency—a clear view of how care is delivered, how drugs are developed, and how their data is utilized. This also includes providing clear counsel on the effective and ethical uses of AI in developing and disseminating health-related information in order to support—not undermine—trust.

Implication: As guardians of communication, we must champion transparency. Open dialogues, patient engagement initiatives, and lucid communication about processes and policies become vital. Our strategies must pivot around creating an environment of trust and openness.

Advocacy from within

Organizations are as strong as the people who drive them. As the healthcare sector negotiates the digital age’s intricacies, workforce culture assumes center stage. Employees are more than mere staff; they represent the brand, its values, and its promises. Their experience of organizational culture has a large and direct impact on how patients experience care.

Implication: Internal communication is not just a necessity but a strategic tool. We need to create robust employee engagement programs, fostering a culture where every team member feels informed and empowered. When employees turn brand ambassadors, the authenticity of communication multiplies.

As we stand on the cusp of transformative changes, the healthcare sector’s trajectory seems clear. Personalization, bolstered by digital tools, is the way forward. For communicators, this era is replete with challenges but also abundant with opportunities. By understanding these emerging trends, by harnessing their potential, we can steer healthcare communication towards a future where it’s not just about speaking but about making every word count.

A digital-first future beckons, promising a tapestry where genuine communication, transparency, and impact intertwine. Let’s embrace it.


Steve Halsey is Chief Growth Officer at G&S Business Communications.