Outsourcing, the strategy of contracting out tasks to external professionals, is growing more prominent everywhere in the market. Once, outsourcing was limited to things like call centers and database management. Over the last fifteen years, however, other activities such as marketing are being outsourced. The healthcare industry is no exception.
Healthcare marketing itself is a relatively recent field. It rose to prominence in the 1970s, long after other sectors began to aggressively use marketing. This new competition was largely driven by the new, stable payment system of Medicare, which made the industry more promising to investors. The rise of for-profit hospitals also bumped up competition.
Soon after, marketing became a necessity for healthcare organizations. If hospitals and practices didn’t use marketing, they risked falling behind other organizations who were already putting it into use. As the industry grew and top workers became more sought after, marketing also began to be necessary to attract top doctors and other healthcare staff.
Now, the latest changes in healthcare marketing revolve around outsourcing. Many practices and hospitals have begun to outsource marketing activities, but is this always a good strategy?
Pros of Outsourcing
Trying to train yourself or someone else to learn marketing skills and tools can be a long and hard process. It adds another administrative burden to doctors or healthcare staff who just want to focus on the patients. While you could hire a full-time marketer to work in-house, putting them on the payroll and company benefits is often more expensive than outsourcing the work.
By outsourcing, your organization can access professionals who know exactly what they’re doing and how to do it in the most effective way. You also have more manpower; many minds are often better than one when devising a good marketing strategy. Outsourcing lets you use a whole team of experts.
With a whole team working together, it’s easier to adapt to sudden pitfalls or changes. If your practice or hospital opts to train a current employee to take over marketing activities or brings in a full-time marketer, that’s still only one person to run the department. Outsourcing, in contrast, allows your campaigns to be more adaptable because they don’t rest on just one person’s shoulders.
Training existing employees or hiring new ones to build an in-house marketing team can distract you from your main focus. It takes time and energy away from core activities like caring for patients, conducting research, and investing in the community. Outsourcing can free you to specialize in high-priority goals like these.
Cons of Outsourcing
Outsourcing, by its nature, moves control away from you and your organization. Your marketing is handled from a distance, and you are unable to monitor it as frequently. This may make your marketing feel distant or disconnected from your hospital or practice. This is a difficult hurdle for many organizations to cross..
Not all firms understand the medical field. You should expect a learning curve from their end; you may have to walk them through how marketing is going to intersect with medical practices. You should be cautious about employing a firm who doesn’t specialize in medical marketing—this might lead to some serious communication barriers.
Outsourcing can put your data at a greater risk than keeping it in-house. This is a common concern; 23% of respondents to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Outsourcing survey cited cyber risks as affecting their decision to outsource. By outsourcing, you are trusting a third party to handle information that may be confidential to your hospital or practice. Opinions on data security vary, however. Some cite outsourcing as helping lower, rather than increase, cyber risks.
Outsourcing can be a bad decision if your hospital or practice already has an effective marketing team in place. If you aren’t having trouble acquiring new patients or hires, or aren’t seeking to expand in the near future, you might not need to change your existing marketing strategy. Assess your organization critically and, most importantly, optimize your message to help the most people possible.