Health Marketers Challenges with an Ageing Population

17/02/17

The world’s population is ageing; almost every country is experiencing growth in the number of older individuals, due to developments in medical care and longer life expectancy.

According to the UN’s population division, the number of people over 65 has more than tripled since 1950 and will almost triple again by 2050. Health trends among the elderly are mixed: while mild disability and chronic diseases are decreasing in some countries, this is increasing in others which is causing the demand for health services to grow.

Figure 1 shows the projected number of people aged 65 and over in England by age group, 2015/16 to 2035/36.

Population graph

Source: Office for National Statistics (2016)

What does this mean for marketeers?

Healthcare marketeers cannot afford to ignore these demographic trends. The medical sector must understand the consumption needs of ageing people and how the market will respond to various marketing activities, as they are becoming one of the most powerful consumer groups. Ways of targeting may consequently have to change since an ageing population may impact the nature of the skills and services provided, along with the settings in which this care is provided. The key findings are as follows:

Additional services

Older adults consume a disproportionately large share of healthcare services due to the rise of chronic conditions as they age, while at the same time placing a strain on resources.

The healthcare system needs to prepare for these incidences by ensuring additional resources and service innovation are available to deliver the long-term care and chronic services required to meet demand. There has already been plans under the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) to remodel health services in order to reduce patient’s reliance on hospitals. The key part of the scheme has been to expand primary services and care into integrated hubs, staffed by GPs and nurses, teams will also carry out home visits for increased flexibility.

Healthcare providers are starting to take a multidisciplinary approach to ensure patients are receiving better case management. Nonetheless, there also needs to be a focus on providing preventive care versus reactive care to limit the number of people being seen, meaning less strain on resources.

Increase marketing expenditure

According to Modern Health Care, more than two-thirds of health systems expect their marketing departments to spend more time and resources influencing patient behaviour over the next few years. As the demand for health services increases, marketeers are spending more on marketing to send targeted messages to consumers. Consumers feel strongly about their choices in healthcare, and they are now being given broader choices. Even now, pharmaceutical companies are using both traditional and digital media channels to reach patients and consumers of older age groups.

Better Education and Greater Socioeconomic Resources

Many older adults are now better educated than previous generations and have greater access to information and socioeconomic resources. The more educated a patient, the higher their expectations. For healthcare marketeers, this means making themselves stand out amongst the choices that consumers come across. Their brand story must validate the integrity of the care provided, as well as offering a personal touch. Even in large medical firms, there must be brand consistency throughout, from staff training through to their marketing collateral to ensure brand integrity and ongoing success.

Better technology

New models of care will be developed and modified to serve older adults. The demand for better service and clinical techniques are prompting pharmaceutical firms to develop new drugs at high speed. Medical device manufacturers are also unveiling better technology to keep patients healthy and to improve both patient outcomes and continuity of care.

Accordingly, marketing must inspire confidence and unify the messages to communicate these new drugs and technology. Furthermore, hospitals and medical companies need to stay on top of the latest tech trends and incorporate them into patient treatment, especially as quality of care becomes more crucial to profitability and survival.

The expected growth of an ageing population will clearly impact the health sector in various ways, especially in terms of marketing. If you want help in building, refreshing or simply marketing your healthcare brand, then please contact Speed Agency today.