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COVID -19 Impact On Healthcare Marketing, Branding And Business Model | Webinar Roundup

Published by ispl at May 13, 2020

Let’s face it, these are unprecedented times. COVID-19 has shook the world to its core.

How would healthcare brands survive and thrive in the times of catastrophe? Healthcare leaders face a multifaceted challenge: combating the healthcare crisis on the frontlines while also tackling similar issues such as employee safety and economic challenges. It is being predicted that the economic impact of COVID-19 are going to be similar to that of the global financial crisis in 2008.

Thus, a clear brand marketing strategy is essential at the best of times. As the strategy shifts from human interaction to AI, it is certain that healthcare brand marketing strategies need to be flexible and adapt to this uncertainty. To brainstorm on the next course of action, ADMH – Adoption of Digital Marketing for Healthcare “An initiative by InnoServ Group hosted a Web Conference on “COVID -19 Impact on Healthcare Marketing, Branding and Business Model”. This virtual conference had eminent speakers from Hinduja Hospital, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Apollo Health, Sakra World Hospital, ORAI Robotics along with other present dignitaries.

This conference has healthcare experts sharing their insights on Healthcare Marketing and Branding during and post COVID-19. Here’s a roundup of how the Pandemic is likely to shape the future of the healthcare industry.

Joy Chakraborty, COO, Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai, starts off with how the ‘new normal’ has brought in a significant constraint in interaction and treatment procedures for patients and healthcare professionals. As most OPDs have shut doors, connectivity concerns have raised eyebrows.

“A shut down in inpatient services has resulted in a huge pressure on the health system. Thus brand positioning becomes important -teleconsultation, division of zones, and the rightful use of robotics seems to be the way for healthcare services.”

There is mistrust and malpractices in the market for which we need to come up with innovative business models- which include electronic health records and telemedicine.

Private care has seen a severe financial constraint despite having more than half of hospital beds in the country, says Col. Ajay Gangoli (Retd) Director, Medical Services, Apollo Health & Lifestyle Limited, Hyderabad. Report by FICCI shows that the occupancy has hit a downfall of approximately 20-30% of the normal percentage.

“The best defense system to apply in such cases is a ‘strong healthcare system’. Indiahas been quick to respond to new challenges by immediately applying cost implementation, disaster management techniques, community awareness to hygiene, improvement in government infrastructure, importance of supply chain management and strengthening of public and private practices.”

Resilience and adaptability to adapt and innovate has prepped India to prepare faster and replicate the best practices as seen with our global healthcare partners. Collective efforts in learning, collaboration and a 360 degree change in branding methodology is the need of the hour for all healthcare brands across.

“In case when a patient comes for kidney transplant, we were uncertain if we should take the difficult step of postponing it. However, the patient seemed more confident than us. His confidence in Fortis and the confidence management control gave us a testament of us being in the right track of patient safety, confidence and loyalty. That’s the result of a positive branding testimony”, says Dr. Ritu Garg | Zonal Director, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.

Healthcare brands must rebuild the brand ethos and get the assurance back to the patient. In the current scenario, digital interface is the rightful direction to achieve bigger and effective patient reach. “Post COVID-19, healthcare brands need to focus on two vital criteria’s, one; communicate the activities of the hospital, second; communicate what hospital is doing for patient safety”, comments Mr. GurupradhaPoonja | Head Marketing & Sales, Sakra World Hospital, Bengaluru.

It is a transformational time, we do see an upside and an opportunity in these testing times. Establishing a market is crucial but its equally important to hold a leadership position.

Dr. Rahul Rosha, Co-Founder, Novique Health considers 3 crucial aspects to healthcare branding.

  1. Branding is most important- People put in a lot of trust on known advisors.
  2. Innovation is the key- Targeted and focused innovation can help sustain business.
  3. New offerings in sync with consumer and market- New channels of distributions, nurture partnerships with global partners will keep a brand afloat.

Healthcare has found itself ‘tested’ by the Pandemic. The front liners are delivering heroically, but the next normal for healthcare will be anything but normal. We then moved on to asking a bunch of pertinent questions to our leading panelist, which was moderated by Gopalakrishnan Ramachandran, Director, Kereitsu Forum, Chairman, InnoServ Group, Mumbai.

Tele-consultations has been the go-to method for patients to avoid visiting hospitals. How convenient is it in the long run, for healthcare providers and patients?

Joy Chakraborthy: Most of the healthcare brands have resorted to announcing the launch of its tele-consultation service along with appextensive features including digitalpatient records, digital prescriptions, and video consultation. The Maharashtra Medical Counsel has given a certain amount of relaxation to telemedicine. However there are a few reservations:

  • Virtual patient-doctor consultation will dilute patient satisfaction
  • Patient from different strata may not adopt this technology well

The positive outcome?

  • Flexibility of time and space
  • Increase in the ability and capability of doctors

How do you see the Indian healthcare Industry has been a major sector in terms of providing volumes and numbers? How do you see the growth in this pandemic era and post COVID-19-era?

Col. Ajay Gangoli: Patient footfall has droppeddrastically and that has resulted in lesser work load. The ‘new normal’ may lead to a change in the basic hospital infrastructure, specialties may become more significant, patient flow pattern will change, role of technologymy amplify which could lead to a boost in telemedicine, teleconsultation, tele prescription. This Pandemic has given a push to the Government to act proactively in dealing with such outbreak issues. That being said, hospitals or healthcare clinics may not cut on the man power as digital operations may increase and they need to be well prepped to handle and control infections and be armed with prevention plans.

COVID-19 is not the first challenge faced by public health and it will not be the last. How do we foresee the future post the Pandemic?

Dr. Ritu Garg: AI can play a huge role in predicting an outbreak.As we face such challenges, we also tend to think ahead of time, manage crisis control and adopt the new norms. We will get smarter and adapt it faster. A host of safety measures will be put to action along with the universal best practices such as essential COVID testing, wearing masks, sanitizing public places and equipment’s, reduce overcrowding and minimize the level of exposure. Similar shift will happen in the billing areas, OPD chairs will be spaced out, innovation in OT, surgeon safety and deployment of negative pressure isolation rooms and ORs. It is certain that there will no longer be a panicky environment as non-transmission steps will be planned as needed.

How branding is critical for survival in this COVID-19 era?

Gurupradha Poonja: Branding during COVID-19 will be very precise.Focus will be diverted to connect with the patient base, ensure patient safety awareness and its crucial aspects. This has to be well linked with branding. The what and how is to be answered in order to create a focused plan.

The What’s

  • Create awareness amongst patients and healthcare workers
  • Distribute reliable and credible information via communication tools

The How’s

  • Build assurance amongst patients
  • Updated website section about COVID-19 information, FAQ, prevention and more
  • Create webinars through information sharing platforms
  • Create a WhatsApp communication to distribute public knowledge messages

The key to the modern day branding is all about having the right communicationat the right time and for the right audience.

There’s a unique technology for Diabetic reversal program which is out in the market. Being an innovation-focusedstartup, how do you plan to action this post COVID-19 era?

Dr. Rahul Rosha: It was time Before COVID (i.e BC as of now) that brand building for diabetes awareness followed a certain rhythm, and now in the COVID times, it’s all about escalation, accumulation, recovery. We are thoroughly invested in diabetic research, conducting public surveywhich helped us gain insights on purchase patterns, and thus design products to cater to those specific needs. Currently the target innovation would be immunity boosting. We are establishing new channels with recognized providers such as nutritionist, researchers, psychologists and othersfor a credible branding. We have adopted a variety of topics on nutrition, publishing articles in media, and thus bolstering our capabilities through select India and global partnerships in such critical are surroundings.

How AI, ML will help in branding and marketing for healthcare?

Swapnil Jain, CEO, ORAI Robotics Pvt. Ltd., Bengaluru:Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are already transforming the sales and marketing process. AI, NLP, machine learning and voice searchare a match made in heaven. Our product, ORAI is for modern business conversations which seamlessly leads to one on one interaction in the healthcare arena. This BOT does many things wonderfully without the engagement of a human.

  1. Reaching the prospect
  2. Establishing a connection
  3. Increase engagement
  4. Convert it into qualified lead

That said, website still remains the core. In medical terms, it’s the heart of a brand. Connection with patients through automated channels results in guaranteed applications, and verified prescriptions. This BOT can be seamlessly integrated with applications and digital marketing channels such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook etc.


  1. How technology has shaped healthcare in irreversible ways? How do you think innovations like electronic health record (HER) has aided convenience to information?

Joy Chakraborthy: Innovations like electronic health records aid convenience and access to information. Payment mechanisms have improved the patient experience. However, EMR is not adopted in India as needed. We don’t have the complete population database yet, which leads to the duplication of diagnostic. Hospitals and other health organizations must focus on improving the quality of life and establish a better track record of patient health.

  1. How telemedicine will affect the administrative section with respect to billing, HR? How do you propose the use of Geolocations to follow traces?

Dr. Ritu Garg: At this juncture, our government is showing us the way to move ahead with the AarogyaSetuMobile App. It wonderfully helps us understand the demographics of diseases in and around our vicinity. A call from a containment or a red zone can prepare you in advance to take appropriate measures in tackling patient health stress. Telemedicine, contactless communication, patient journey mapping, and appointment scanning process will change the operations of healthcare for the good of the people.

  1. Is EHR adoption possible, is it happening? How do we go about it?

Col. Ajay Gangoli: It’s an area with people dependency, IT will require people for design and for its appropriate usage. Robust training must be given to people who will make use of the technology at the backend. It’s a culture of change. We must have a have vision, skill set and a suitable plan of implementation.

EHR implementation, however, can also have a significant impact on operational efficiencies, creating opportunities for healthcare organizations to leverage the same workflow automation capabilities to improve a number of cumbersome administrative processes to drive bottom line improvement.

  1. How machine intelligence is helping healthcare providers to fight the pandemic?

Dr. Rahul Rosha:As it turns out, the tools for fighting pandemics are right under our noses. The medical technology to help prevent the spread of future infectious agents, and even to fight the one in our midst, exists now.Vaccine development, drug development, and various efforts under risk assessment in liaison with AI will emerge and play a bigger role. ‘Precision medicine’ is “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention. Big data, Teletherapeutics, and AI robots has been actively helping in fighting this plague.

  1. How AI technology MI, AR, VR, will help in a big way?

Swapnil Jain:The future of healthcare is shaping up in front of our very eyes with advances in digital healthcare technologies, such as artificial intelligence, VR/AR, 3D-printing, robotics, AI chatbots, Voice AI or nanotechnology.The future of healthcare lies in working hand-in-hand with technology and healthcare workers have to embrace emerging healthcare technologies in order to stay relevant in the coming years.

 The COVID-19 coronavirus infectious agent now exponentially spreading worldwide seems like a plague from a distant past. Marketing efforts must be tweaked in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. It is likely that whenever the government announces any fiscal stimulus, this industry will be looked at favorably. The industry is also likely to benefit from increase awareness about healthcare and the more government focus that this endemic is likely to result in.

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