The Healthcare Marketing Trend to Watch in 2018


Healthcare analysts spend more time collecting, scrubbing, and managing data than they do actually analyzing it. This trend will help with that.

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The Healthcare Marketing Trend to Watch in 2018

Geomarketing has seen quick adoption in consumer-focused transactional industries like retail  helping new up-and-coming brands grow rapidly and compete with big box stores.

In healthcare  embracing geofences  targeted marketing  and location intelligence has been a more gradual process. Compliance regulations have made it difficult to access data  and data governance is notoriously difficult within healthcare organizations.

Healthcare analysts spend more time collecting  scrubbing  and managing data than they do actually analyzing patient data. One study found healthcare IT professionals spent 80% of their time hunting and gathering data rather than interpreting it. This alarming inefficiency results in a worse customer experience for patients.

But this slow start in healthcare geomarketing is expected to accelerate with healthcare eclipsing retail as the largest sector of the location market by 2020.

Healthcare geomarketing is the trend to watch.

Below  let’s take a look at how Location Intelligence tools and techniques can help healthcare marketers use location data to serve patients better.

Location data for population health management

Healthcare marketers need to locate the optimal areas to focus efforts of their marketing  sales  and public awareness campaigns.

Imagine you are a healthcare marketer in charge of launching a national anti-smoking campaign. Location data can help you identify and target local areas with high volumes of smokers as well as provide additional demographic and societal measures of those groups of people.

Let’s take a deeper look at how location data could be used in a healthcare geomarketing campaign:




In the visualization above  we see the United States with four layers of data (from our Data Observatory):

  • first  we imported a layer of census tract data to set spatial boundaries;
  • second  we imported a layer of state boundaries  given healthcare’s role in both state and federal legislation;
  • third  we added a layer of multiple demographic measures to identify measures about Americans such as age  annual income  level of education  and mortality rates among other attributes;
  • fourth  we added a layer of behavioral data on smoking habits.

Let’s turn on the autostyle feature found on our behavioral data histogram "C Adult Smoking" (on the right hand side). With a simple click  the map’s projection changes to display county-level smoking habits using a divergent color scheme that identifies areas ranging from high concentrations of smokers (red) to counties with low (yellow) levels.

The saturation of dark red in states including West Virginia  Kentucky  and Tennessee indicates higher volumes of adulting smokers than in other states such as Utah  Colorado  and California.

To consider the social determinants of health for this population of "Adult Smokers " let’s autostyle our map using county level demographic data by:

Education level




Household Income




Visualizing this location data draws our attention to West Virginia as a state with a high concentration of adult smokers  low levels of any college level education  and lower than average annual income. A December 2016 Center for Disease Control (CDC) report confirms our map’s initial finding with more granular statistical correlations between smoking  annual income  and level of education.

Geomarketers could use this information to strategically allocate more campaign ad spend in states like West Virginia with a multichannel anti-smoking campaign consisting of online campaigns as well as outdoor media advertisements.

A healthcare marketer could leverage the same types of location data to design a preventative anti-smoking campaign targeting a population  like children  particularly susceptible to social determinants of health. The visualization below applied our autostyle feature to children in poverty to locate where this patient segment  or risk stratification  resides:




West Virginia again shows a high  albeit more even distributed  volume of this population across the state. Again  an omni-channel approach would be best for geomarketing design given the population’s age (18 years and under) as well as socioeconomic conditions.

Let’s take a look at location data touch points in a recent healthcare geomarketing campaign that not only promoted anti-smoking  but also turned an incredibly high profit.

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CVS Health finds elusive ROI in geomarketing campaign

CVS Health became the first national retail pharmacy to ban the sale of tobacco and tobacco related products in all locations in September 2014.

While the business decision aligned with the organization’s rebranding from CVS Pharmacy to CVS Health  the financial risks associated with this decision were high.

What  after years of research on the health risks associated with smoking  provided CVS Health the confidence to ban cigarettes in 2014?

In a 2014 geographic customer segmentation  Forbes found a correlation between CVS locations and college campuses.

In addition to suggestive insights about the retailer’s site planning process  this information provides insights on consumer behavioral trends as well.

People with more college education are less likely to smoke  and if CVS Health used this information in their site planning process  opening locations near or around college campuses  then there would likely be a far less demand for tobacco products among its client-base.

Our own map shows similar patterns:

Far fewer adult smokers along the north east coast’s major metropolitan areas




Higher levels of college education along north east coast’s major metropolitan areas




There also seems to be a long-term strategy at play as CVS’s decision to target college-aged consumers sows the seeds of brand loyalty. "Life event marketing"  marketing that correspond to major lifestyle changes like graduating college  getting married  and having children  can help strengthen customer loyalty. This perhaps explains CVS’s decision to leverage location data all the while expanding its market share of college age consumers who are less likely to start smoking.

Indeed  two of CVS Health’s most recent prevention campaigns specifically target target="_blank">colleges and universities in an organization-wide effort to deliver the first tobacco free generation. "While smoking rates among children and adults have declined over the past decade " explains Eileen Howard Boone  Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy at CVS Health  and President of the CVS Health Foundation  "approximately 36.5 million adults still smoke and 3 200 people under age 18 smoke their first cigarette every day."

In the three years since the decision went into effect  CVS reported a loss in sales of $2 billion dollars as relates to the sale of tobacco and tobacco related products.

However  overall revenue has increased in each of the last three years as it expands into health management market. A 2017 report published in American Journal of Public Health found that the retail pharmacy chain’s decision led 38 percent of its customers to quit smoking completely  and led to a significant decline in cigarette purchases across the nation.

In states where CVS has more than 15 percent market share  there was a 1 percent decrease in cigarette sales in the first eight months of ban and a four percent increase in the sale of nicotine patches.


The demand for healthcare geomarketing will continue to grow  and as with other industries experts and analysts are turning to Location Intelligence for solutions capable of optimizing current practices.

We covered a lot of ground in this post! If you have specific questions  please feel free to schedule a call with one of our geomarketing specialists today!