Healthcare is one of the UAE’s most important business sectors and is one that is supported strongly by the UAE government. Recently, the country’s authorities have started to work closely with private healthcare providers to improve the quality of their services and to ensure that they follow the laid down rules and regulations that relate to the provision of health-related services in the country.
The demand for healthcare in the UAE is increasing, with one recent report in Gulf News saying that the number of hospital beds would need to increase by 37 per cent, from 2,550 beds in 2012 to 3,500 beds by 2018. This is to keep up with the estimated increase in the UAE population, which is expected to touch 12.2 million in five years, as well as to keep pace with the high incidence of lifestyle-related diseases experienced here.
With private sector healthcare organisations keen on capitalising on the opportunities afforded by this demand, many well-known international hospitals have commenced operations in the UAE. But, as a private healthcare provider, what are the stages that you need to follow in order for you to market your service successfully? Here are six steps:
1. Assessment: Consult business plans, patient satisfaction surveys, volume reports, community surveys and any other information you can gather on the current state of the health market. This will help you know where the demand is for the specific healthcare solutions you are offering.
2. Competitor Study: Know your competitor. Not every clinic or healthcare provider will be offering the same services as you intend. Get to know who is exactly matching what you are providing. Study them and find out what solutions they are offering. Once you understand their services, you will be in a position to see how you can offer better solutions.
3. Planning and Strategy: Where do you want your organisation to be in three to five years? How can marketing help realise this vision? Make a list of all the tools at your disposal and determine what options will work best for your product, marketplace and expected budget. Consider direct marketing, advertising campaign, public relations, events, building a user-friendly website and training programmes.
4. Budget: Build your budget to support your campaign, Focus on the core demographic for your services that you have identified through your initial assessment. This will help your plans have the greatest impact.
5. Be creative: Look for the latest innovations in the healthcare market to offer something new. Keep referring to your vision and strategy to ensure that the creative concepts support your ultimate objectives.
6. Measure and evaluate: Whenever possible, include a ‘call to action’ that can be quantified. You should consider consumer preference and top-of-mind awareness, which can translate into future volumes.