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Health care marketing is a form of marketing tailored to the needs of the health care industry. Like other forms of marketing, it is used to build an image of a product or service and to develop a loyal customer base. Firms that specialize in health care marketing offer a range of services, and some companies active in the health care industry have their own advertising departments to handle their promotional needs.
The health care industry presents a number of choices to consumers. Marketing that influences those choices can steer consumers in the direction of particular products, services, or providers. Health care marketing may be used to market individual practitioners, facilities, procedures, or devices. It can also be used as an educational tool to provide patients with information about their rights and to inform people about medical issues that may be of interest.
Campaigns for health care marketing must be developed in a sensitive way. Health is viewed by many people as a personal matter and marketing that strikes the wrong tone may be rejected by consumers. This is especially true in the case of targeted marketing. Consumers may feel like their privacy is being invaded if their receive marketing that is delivered because of recent health care purchases, for example. Companies that develop ad campaigns for the health care industry take special care to familiarize themselves with the demographics they intend to appeal to and to develop a campaign that will be engaging and interesting without feeling invasive.
Health care marketing includes print ads in magazines and newspapers, billboards, signage on bus shelters, radio advertising, and television spots. It can also include management of a brand's image through the use of press releases, press conferences, and other events targeted at the media. Depending on the company and the product, the marketing may be designed to set a variety of tones, ranging from one that might appeal to young consumers to ones addressed to people with embarrassing medical issues.
There is some controversy about health care marketing. Some governments restrict the type of marketing companies are allowed to conduct out of concerns that certain types of products should not be marketed directly to consumers. Other nations take a more relaxed regulatory attitude but will crack down on false claims in health care marketing. Such claims can be harmful for health care consumers as they may have difficulty evaluating them since they lack access to scientific studies and other information which can be used to weigh a claim against the facts.