Pandemic prompts paradigm shift in healthcare marketing

By Sabrina Hayes

When most companies decided to decrease their marketing budget during the global pandemic, the healthcare industry knew now was not the time to slow down their messaging.

In fact, from telehealth visits to providing customized physical therapy videos for patients online, providers found that it was now more important than ever for their brand to stay prominent.

Over 89 percent of our clients are in the healthcare industry. We work with national and local insurance companies, hospitals, pharmacies and provider groups to help them solve problems and meet their business goals.

Our healthcare partners who continued or increased their marketing efforts during COVID-19 saw an unprecedented upward spike in response rates. For example, one of our primary care groups had a 300 percent increase in response rates, while their cost per click (CPC) dropped 60 percent at the onset of the pandemic. Knowing that most of the population was at home during the quarantine provided an attentive audience who were frequently on their electronic devices. Our tailored digital messaging directed to targeted individuals allowed our providers to see a higher response rate than ever before.

It was those increases in response rates that helped our provider practices have 20 percent less no shows for appointments through online telemedicine. We helped providers reinvent themselves and get the message out to their patients to help the patients feel safe and comfortable transitioning to a doctor in their home for a video appointment. It was also important to communicate to them that medical help was always available, especially during these difficult times.


Kudos should go out to the entire healthcare delivery system. Many providers, hospitals and insurance companies worked together to maneuver and pivot during the pandemic through digital marketing and videoconferencing. Everyone worked together for the betterment of patients and it really showed. Insurance companies covered in-home telehealth appointments. Hospitals and providers continued providing care to their patients, in new and innovative digital ways.

When the physical therapy offices were shut down, many of our doctors were concerned when their patients could not come into the office for therapy. That is when we helped create customized video content for their patients, so they could do some of their therapy exercises at home. It was helping the practices stay engaged with their patients who continued to need care while their physical therapy offices continued to stay closed.

During the pandemic, a Louisville hospital network that is a client has continued with their traditional as well as digital advertising. With just under 1.4 million people reached since COVID-19 began, the digital advertising had around 5.5 million impressions with each ad being seen just under four times each and receiving over 10,000 link clicks.

We found some of our specialty doctors were concerned when no elective surgeries were able to be performed. However, several practices changed their marketing direction and used their advertising budget to help schedule and increase future appointments.

Facing challenges head-on and making quick shifts in the direction of their marketing allowed healthcare companies to quickly adapt to what was happening in the marketplace. And where other industries failed to survive and stay in business during this time, the healthcare industry stepped up and continued to do what it does best: help their patients continue to receive the care and treatment they need, even during a global crisis.

-Sabrina Hayes is the healthcare marketing director for Vest Advertising in Louisville, Kentucky.