Digital Health C-Suite Series: Tackling the marketing challenges in digital health

C suite Jamie Burgess

In the latest installment of our BrightInsight Digital Health C-Suite Series, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Chitra Nawbatt. We discussed the challenges of digital health marketing, copycat messaging, and the importance of understanding the end user. Watch the full video, or read on for a recap.

Digital health marketing is challenging for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a highly regulated industry. For example, consider continuous glucose monitors designed to titrate patients’ insulin dosage. Every single thing that you say in an interview, every word that you write, all of that messaging has to be very accurate—for good reason, to keep people safe.

The second issue is, how do you make tech sexy? It can be a challenge to translate the benefits of technology in an appealing way to people who aren’t familiar with tech—“What is a microservice, and why would a biopharma executive care?” There’s a real art to identifying and crafting a message that resonates with the target audience.

Walking the walk

The digital health space is rife with buzzwords and clichéd catch-phrases, a word soup of copycat messaging in which just about every company claims to offer a compliant platform with all the bells and whistles. If you say you're complaint, then you must have a quality management system (QMS) to back that up. If you say you're a platform, you better have architecture that actually is a platform. And be able to back up claims of working with leading companies with testimonials about the value you’re providing.

Understanding the end user

Although BrightInsight is a B2B company, the products we build with and for our clients such as drug companion apps, are used by a variety of end users. The key is really understanding their unique pain points, their specific journeys, and then making sure that we provide value along the way. That means different things for a patient with a rare disease using a companion app to assist with at-home infusions, than with a caregiver responsible for managing a loved one’s Alzheimer’s treatment, or a lab technician working with an in vitro diagnostic device.

Developing that level of understanding requires a lot of market research, starting from the very outset of product design, asking “Why are we developing this?” That’s in stark contrast to the dawn of the digital health era when it was known as “M health” or mobile health. Back then, there was a lot of tech development for tech development's sake. Now there's more of a focus on the end user, identifying their pain points and building from there.

The evolution of digital health users

The pandemic catalyzed an increased focus on digital healthcare, with patients demanding digital health interfaces, tools and apps. Those telehealth experiences—the ‘Uberization’ of healthcare—are what patients are looking for. For example, during a recent hospital visit my stepfather, who is a Type 1 diabetic, was frustrated when the hospital wouldn’t allow him to administer his own insulin despite the fact that he had real-time data from his continuous glucose monitor telling him that he really needed insulin. More and more patients are demanding these types of solutions and taking a more active role in their care.

Looking ahead in digital health innovation

After a few years of healthy investment in digital health, the economic climate has slowed, presenting headwinds for big tech and startups alike. That’s set up a make-or-break scenario in digital health that will see the true leaders winnowed from the herd. Those that are delivering for their customers will be around for the long haul.

You can find all the videos from our C-Suite Series on our YouTube Channel.

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