Impactful healthcare marketing and communications: as artificial intelligence expands, the only thing constant is change

Ryan Fisher, CMI Media Group

Impactful healthcare marketing and communications: as artificial intelligence expands, the only thing constant is change

By Ryan Fisher, CMI Media Group

Will 2024 one day be remembered as the “Year of AI”?

While it’s never actually possible to fully predict the future, we are looking ahead to how artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies – combined with the human touch of professionals – will shape the future of the business of healthcare and pharmaceuticals for generations to come.

Before looking at AI’s potential impacts in the space, we must first take stock of the macro trends in healthcare. Our Future Outlook in Healthcare and Consumer/HCP Communications report identifies several key trends marketers must prepare for now.

  • America will continue to get sicker, younger. Researchers continue to discover that younger generations are getting sicker earlier and more often. As this trend continues, generational impact and response to healthcare and information consumption will increasingly differ and therefore must be a key consideration when selecting both a creative format and media channel investment mix. Pharmaceutical companies and their marketing and communications arms will need to understand their patients and healthcare providers at a more granular, generational level.
  • Total cost of treatment will become more visible and paramount. With an increasing number of younger patients being impacted at greater speed and strength with various chronic and acute conditions, the healthcare industry is coming under greater pressure not only from the increased cost of treating more patients over a longer period but also from high inflation, rising wages and other costs.
  • Health and SDOH management will become the new north star. With more and more young people getting sicker for longer and the cost of disease management going up, disease prevention and action to address social determinants of health (SDOH) will be seen as better and more cost effective than seeking disease management or a cure.
  • Point of care/prescribing will expand to everywhere/anytime. The COVID epidemic fueled a tremendous shift in not only who we are seeking care from, but where consumers are seeking their care. There’s been a proliferation of telehealth visits, alternative care facilities within retail locations and home self-diagnosis devices. This will only grow, with vast impact not only to diagnosis and treatment but to more equitable prevention as well.
  • AI will play a growing role in healthcare and information delivery. All of the above brings us to AI, with 2024 being a huge year for innovation, investment and proof of outcomes. AI will transform ways of working from creative/content and messaging all the way to media omnichannel decisioning and message personalization. This transformation will drive consistency and effectiveness in overall investments. AI will be a powerful tool to supplement human creativity and emotion in the marketing process. As we navigate the associated privacy, security and ethical concerns, 2024 has made it clear that AI has incredible potential to help healthcare marketers and communicators reach their audience with greater speed, greater accuracy and greater impact.
  • How marketers can and should leverage AI in omnipresent marketing. Our outlook confirms that omnipresent marketing – a strategy which strives to immerse a brand in the very fabric of the customer’s life – will become more central and more critical. Within that strategy, AI has something to offer at each step of the marketing funnel.
  • AI and search/social. Search engines and social media algorithms have long been powered by AI, though look for the technology to drive even more change and innovation. “As engines like Google and Bing enhance their functionality with AI powered features, the opportunity presents itself to savvy brands to use their digital presence to influence these new search experiences with quality content,” shares Franco Maffei, senior VP, SEO, CMI Media Group. “The places users go to search will continue to be varied beyond just the static search bar,” adds Courtney Mullen, SVP, SEM, CMI Media Group.
  • AI and audience insights and analytics. If marketers don’t understand their audiences, it’s impossible to create impactful media strategies. AI will play a key role providing opportunities to gather insights while also creating new obstacles. “In the next two years… opportunity will be the influx of more data and research. Obstacle will be sifting through all of that data and research,” says Julie Hurvitz Aliaga, executive VP, innovation, content, and partnerships, CMI Media Group. Kaitlyn O’Hara, VP, audience intelligence, CMI Media Group, adds “we will continue to be smarter in the way we use technology and continue to create ways to find efficiencies in generating insights, while driving positive impact for media teams.” Still, privacy concerns will only get larger with the acceptance of AI. “The way in which data is gathered, stored, used and acted on will be essential as governance and compliance is put into place,” shares Leanne Smith, executive VP, data strategy and governance, CMI Media Group.

Key takeaways

As AI becomes more prevalent and incorporated into new workstreams, it has potential to drive incredible change at a frenzied pace. It will enhance analytics processes and findings. It will advance information access and provide new pathways to data gathering. And it will help the search experience evolve and give brands additional gateways to reach new audiences.

One thing AI will not do is remove the irreplaceable human element in interactions between patients and physicians. AI cannot replicate human emotion or the human touch. Whether or not 2024 is remembered as the “Year of AI,” the AI-fueled change is here, and as marketers and communicators, it could not be more exciting.

Ryan Fisher, CMI Media Group Ryan Fisher is senior analyst, SEM, CMI Media Group.