Marketing in the African HealthCare Sector: what you need to know - Dr Alex Hakuzimana, Partner, BlueCloud Healthcare

This article was first published by Dr Alex Hakuzimana, Consulting Partner, BlueCloud Healthcare on LinkedIn on the 9th of Feb, 2015
Although there might be tough regulations on these practices especially in countries where health care services are managed and provided by the state, and while to some extent, rules of supply and demand may be applicable, it is important to raise awareness on the importance of marketing in order to reach the customers, get their feedback on the quality of services provided and plan for improvement. I will focus mainly on care provisioning for clinics, hospitals and other similar care providers.

Contrary to pharmaceutical and medical device companies that have been selling their services and products for a long time, marketing has not been pervasive in other types of health care organizations such as clinics, rehabilitation centers, hospitals before 1970s. Marketing was not only unknown in the health care organizations but also prohibited. In its codes of ethics, the American Medical Association was against advertising practices for its members before 1975.

Health facilities that attempted using marketing strategies used it partially by means of persuasive messages. For example, hospitals that put ads in newspapers and magazines or not-for-profit health care organizations that used social marketing for health education and promotion programs. In fact, competition had been almost nonexistent in the health care industry, especially in hospitals that were monopolizing markets by fixing price and costs of their services and patients had no role in this process.

Competition helps improve the provision of health services to patients. In their research model, Rivers and Glover identified patient satisfaction as an outcome measure directly linked to competition and quality of care. This measure was also dependent on operating costs that were defined according to the organizational mission and goals.

Please stay tuned and check this: in my next posts, I’ll talk about basic principles of marketing, the uniqueness of health care marketing and will propose some strategies that may work.

Alex Hakuzimana is a consultant/expert in health policy, results-based financing, health systems strengthening, health financing for universal health coverage, human resources for health and health systems analysis. He is also a Researcher and is currently involved in multi-country collaborative research activities on health financing for universal health coverage.