When you’ve been in the design field as long as we have, you see certain patterns emerge. Our business resides in a part of the country dominated by technology and life science industries. We’ve noticed that certain trends and developments that originated with high technology companies have now found their way into medical and life science companies. It only makes sense that successful business practices and applications developed by one industry eventually find their way into others. We’ve seen this before. Technologies and practices developed specifically for NASA and the military eventually found their way into other industries, including the medical industry. How can we learn from this?
Technology companies have been at the forefront of developing new applications and ways of working that build efficiencies, reduce errors, and improve productivity. And with healthcare costs continuing to rise dramatically, it’s easy to understand why healthcare organizations have been eager to adopt these best practices and applications. High tech companies offered enterprise-wide networking solutions to large corporations long before they were deployed in the healthcare market. The same is true for remote access. If you’ve ever had to have a CAT scan read in the last few years, you know that depending on the time of day, there was a likelihood it was read by a doctor halfway around the world. Remote access was used successfully in other industries well before it found use in healthcare facilities.
On the business front, the medical device industry is beginning to experience what technology companies experienced ten to fifteen years ago: a consolidation of the playing field. From a proliferation of entrepreneur-driven start-ups that either went bust or were gobbled up by increasingly larger companies — to a mature market dominated by mid- to large-size companies.
Are these patterns true for marketing practices as well? There is one factor that makes it harder to draw parallels between what happened with technology companies and what might happen within the life sciences market. The Web as we now know it, and social media, didn’t exist fifteen, ten or even five years ago, and it has had a profound effect on the marketing environment. In fact, we’re still in the midst of this change, waiting for things to shake out. But some patterns have emerged.
Let’s take a look. Smart technology companies long ago stopped focusing on selling technology products and began reaching customers by explaining the benefits these products would have on their life. Recently we’ve seen medical-related companies following the same strategy. In some cases, companies have even bypassed the traditional route of marketing to doctors (the prescribers), aiming instead at patients and empowering them to influence their doctor’s treatment decisions. Trade shows for the high tech industry have faded considerably from their heyday, replaced in part by virtual trade shows and webinars. Physical trade shows in the medical device market are still big, but virtual trade shows are beginning to gain traction. There is now a much greater online distribution of marketing communications materials in the medical device market, echoing what has been happening the high technology market for some time. The trend toward more online and interactive communication between seller and buyer will only increase as younger generation of doctors, already tech-savvy, gain more influence in the decision making.
No company or industry grows in a vacuum. Companies in the medical industry have wisely modeled solutions learned in other industries, and will continue to do so. Therefore, we’ll continue to monitor marketing trends in order to advise our clients on best practices.