I was recently attending Yandex’s media and marketing conference, which now has an extra health stream. (Yandex is the Russian version of Google.) It’s amazing to watch medtech catch hold in Russia – at least among startups, if not necessarily among the population at large so far. Yandex, like Google, started out as a search company; in order to thrive and prosper, they both became ad companies, expert at matching buyers and sellers. But now, they are helping to match messages and recipients, moving from broad demographics to precision medicine. Or, if you want to put it unkindly, you could say that they are helping sellers to manipulate the buyers.
In health care, at its best, digital tools can give users the power to manipulate themselves, from consumers of goods that enrich the advertisers, to users of products and services that benefit themselves…whether it’s setting reminders for themselves to go to the gym or selecting the right nudges to go to sleep or (ironically) turn off their phones.
The difference is who’s in control and who’s aware of the ultimate beneficiary. Health tech is less about patient “compliance” and more about user empowerment. Basically, it’s the conscious, selecting self vs. the oblivious, triggered consumer.
But it’s not that easy. Consumers need to take the trouble to buy in – which is where traditional marketing starts…luring people to sign up in the first place when they don’t fell sick at all, or they do feel sick or troubled and don’t want to acknowledge it. More on that later.