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Differences Between Healthcare Demand Generation and Demand Capture

No one wakes up in the morning knowing that they need a dental procedure or a hip replacement. Instead, we all go through a journey from first experiencing the symptoms and becoming aware of healthcare problems to discovering the cause and treating the problem — and, therefore, finding someone to treat it. This is what we in healthcare marketing call “the patient’s journey.” 

To make sure the prospective patients choose you as their provider, you need to show the right message at the right time. And to do that, you need to understand their journey and successfully define the stage that a given patient is at. 

For example, if someone’s struggling with sinus pressure, targeting them with a surgery ad wouldn’t be appropriate. They’re not even sure what their diagnosis is yet and what service or healthcare treatment they need. On the other hand, showing them a video in which an ENT doctor explains what might be causing the symptoms, how to treat them, and providing advice on what their next steps should be might be just the enticement they need to book an initial consultation.

Healthcare demand generation and demand capture are both associated with different stages of the patient journey. Demand is what drives any business — and healthcare demand generation and demand capture both stem from this notion but focus on different goals. Demand generation creates the need for a specific product or service, while demand capture encourages potential buyers to choose that product or service and take action. 

In healthcare, demand generation helps you build brand awareness, while demand capture closes the loop around those patients who show the greatest potential to come to your practice. Together, they help you better understand and successfully address:

  • How your patients become aware of healthcare problems,
  • Where, when, and how they seek solutions,
  • How they evaluate healthcare providers,
  • What helps them make the final decision to proceed,

What Is Demand Generation

Demand generation can be thought of like the music you hear when the ice cream truck starts driving slowly through your neighborhood. It makes you aware that, if you’re craving ice cream, there’s a way to satisfy that craving. Demand generation in healthcare is the process of creating a need for your services. It widens your patient base as it helps them realize that you have the answer to their questions and demands. 

Demand generation happens at the beginning stages of the patient journey when people aren’t actively in the buying mindset yet. At this point, they may be looking for information to help them better understand, frame, and give a name to their problem. They know they have an issue but aren’t aware of potential solutions or might not even be actively looking for a solution at all. For example, a person suffering from chronic neck pain might simply be trying to learn more about what they’re dealing with. It’s too soon for them to consider solutions or providers, but even in these early stages, it’s important that you establish your authority and start gaining patients’ trust.

Your job is to provide patients with authoritative information and give them a reason to get to know your practice better and begin the relationship-building process. Here are some of the demand generation best practices you can use:

  • Build brand awareness — it’s important to be recognizable and memorable as that’s how potential patients take you into consideration in the later stages;
  • Create SEO-friendly content — your insights may actually answer their initial questions and help them understand what they might be dealing with;
  • Optimize your website — you want to keep the visitors on your website as long as possible and make it easy for them to navigate from an educational blog post to the description of your services to an appointment booking form;
  • Improve your local search results — you want to show up in the search results of those patients who are near enough to make an appointment with you;
  • Stay active on social media — this allows you to engage with potential patients in the early stages of their journey and establish a trustworthy connection.

What Is Demand Capture

Once you pique patients’ interest and they start considering your healthcare practice, you still have a lot to do. Demand capture happens later along the patient journey once patients are ready to take action. They may be exploring things like your services, your brand name, or your competitors. They may be visiting your website or looking at online reviews. Either way, the demand is there. What you need to do is to capture it and persuade patients to choose you as their healthcare provider. Using our previous example, demand capture is what happens when the ice cream truck music finally convinces someone to step up and buy some ice cream.

In this context, what our healthcare consumer with chronic neck pain might find useful at this stage is an ad from a neurologist who specializes in treating this particular condition. Maybe they’d like to see a short video about the benefits of a certain approach or any other content demonstrating why this specific solution is the right treatment for their problem.

To capture demand, you need to convince prospective patients that you have what they need and use strategies that summarize your solution more concisely, make its benefits real, and eliminate any drawbacks. To achieve this, you can:

  • Maintain a steady reputation — great reviews will reassure potential patients that you’re the right choice;
  • Run targeted ads — HIPAA-compliant predictive targeting can help you with more effective ad placement, therefore achieving tremendous results and an enviable ROI; 
  • Send automated patient surveys — poll your existing patients to understand what made them choose you in the first place, then use that information to inform your marketing and attract new patients
  • Create promo offers — maybe a symbolic discount is just what a prospective patient needs at this stage to make up their mind;
  • Provide great website content — ensure prospective patients have plenty of resources to peruse on your practice website until they’re ready to make a decision, such as case studies, articles, and blog posts. 

Healthcare Demand Generation and Demand Capture Differences

Both healthcare demand generation and demand capture help you generate more high-quality patients by using the right approach as they move through the patient journey. So, what’s the difference?

With demand generation, your main goal is to create awareness, educate and provide value to your patients. With demand capture, you’re reaching people who are actively looking for or are interested in healthcare services, encouraging them to come to your healthcare practice. 

Together, healthcare demand generation and demand capture strategies help you raise awareness of patients’ challenges, position your healthcare practice as trustworthy, sell your services, drive long-term engagement, and foster genuine loyalty among your patients. 

So, though we can differentiate them — demand generation and demand capture are not opposed, they rather complement each other into a harmonious healthcare marketing strategy with an impressive ROI potential. 

As the healthcare market becomes more and more competitive, a holistic approach including both healthcare demand generation and demand capture can help you cover all the stages of patients’ journey and stand out among the competition. Like Google says, creating demand is only one half of the challenge — acquiring and retaining new patients is the other. With the use of both healthcare demand generation and demand capture strategies, you can effectively build your healthcare brand as one that people recognize no matter where they are in the patient journey.

Reach a Balance and Measure Your Results

At some point, you may feel tempted to focus on capturing patients who already know what they need at the expense of dealing with the creation of customer demand. But this is a dangerous feat, as, in that stage of their journey, they might’ve already grown trust for your competitors. Besides, each stage of the patient journey offers unique opportunities to improve patient engagement, build trust, and demonstrate care. 

Don’t forget that most patients begin their journey online, but some of them end it there, as well. For your business to grow, it’s important to target both points in the journey. If you focus on capturing the demand, you can only reach out to a certain patient base. To catch people’s attention and establish trust, you need to build all-around visibility. And if you keep on promoting your brand but do not make efforts to capture your patients’ demand, you reach a dead end. When you think of the patient journey holistically, you’re able to craft an experience that leads to long-lasting patient-provider relationships. So, having a well-rounded strategy where healthcare demand generation and demand capture go hand in hand is crucial to achieving desired results.

At the same time, it’s equally important to measure your marketing performance, understand which channels bring you the greatest results, and optimize your strategy in an informed manner.

SocialClimb’s healthcare marketing platform allows you to cover all the interactions a patient has with your business — from the awareness stage until they convert as a customer. With intuitive and simple-to-use tools, we enable you to automate your marketing processes, target the right audience, measure your results, and develop user-centric strategies that will put your healthcare organization in front of the right people at the right time and convert prospects into loyal patients.

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