Ethical issues remain a critical component in the healthcare marketing setting. Over the recent years, healthcare systems have increasingly adopted heavy-investment marketing strategies to influence consumer behaviors and attain an edge over rivals. The main objective of the healthcare marketers’ approach involves educating client-patients and engaging them in clinical intervention strategies. The emergence of complex interactions among healthcare providers and marketers, governments, and patients has evoked heated debates regarding transparency and accountability in the management of healthcare marketing. This essay discusses several ethical issues associated with healthcare marketing and ways in which to address them.
Several ethical issues arise from managing a healthcare marketing division for a pharmaceutical drug. First, the healthcare reform presents the costs of the advertising of prescription drugs for patients. The approach leads to an increase in healthcare costs, which is unfavorable for economically disadvantaged patients who cannot afford expensive medical services. Secondly, an inappropriate market structure is a hindrance to successful healthcare marketing because the direct-to-customer (DTC) campaigns may fail to reach vulnerable populations impacted by health disparities. Convincing clients to purchase the company’s quality products and services would be difficult because they may lack access to the product or service. In the United States, third parties, such as medical insurance companies, pay bills and influence the clients’ accessibility to medical services. Only a few individuals can afford to pay directly for medical care and treatments (Drumwright, 2013). Thirdly, due to the digital underinvestment in the healthcare marketing system, there exists tough market competition from third parties, who have emerged as alternative sources of healthcare information for consumers and physicians. Consumers’ dissatisfaction results in seeking alternative data resources to obtain more desirable health information.
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Fourthly, the healthcare marketing sector has not fully implemented the measurement and metrics associated with stakeholder empowerment and marketing communications. Failure to recognize measurement and brand-related metrics as a crucial aspect of the healthcare marketing exchange system devastates the realization of successful marketing. The fifth issue is that such controversial problems as drug pricing have created a bad reputation for the healthcare industry. Therefore, the situation has led to the occurrence of the trust gap. Patients and physicians develop suspicions regarding the advertised pharmaceutical products and information from the marketers. The sixth issue involves data security. The exponential increase in the integration of patient data into digital marketing poses a challenge for healthcare marketers to enhance their data documentation capabilities. The management of a healthcare marketing division for a pharmaceutical drug requires developing patient insights from emerging and current data sources for integrating into marketing programs. Furthermore, there is a need to manage securely and quickly large capacities of patient data as well as formulate compliant policies concerned with privacy regulation for the collection and appropriate use of data.
The seventh issue is that healthcare organizations subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) may not benefit from wearable consumer opportunities. The HIPAA regulates the use of Protected Health Information (PHI), which means that such healthcare marketers must obtain authorization from patients before the integration of their PHI into marketing campaigns. Consequently, healthcare marketers subject to HIPAA lack flexibility as opposed to other marketers who are not under HIPAA compliance. The seventh issue is about the language barrier that may lead to confusion. Finally, the U.S. stringent regulations on marketing and promotion of pharmaceutical products have a significant impact on the healthcare marketing sector. The advertisements and controversial drug pricing have resulted in tensions between the healthcare industry and legislators in the U.S. Therefore, a strained relationship leads to the creation of unfavorable marketing policies that are detrimental to the success of healthcare promotion campaigns.
As a manager of the healthcare marketing division for a pharmaceutical drug, I would employ a few strategies to address the ethical issues associated with this marketing strategy. Primarily, there is a need to study clients’ expectations to develop and implement an appropriate marketing campaign for pharmaceutical products. Establishing a consumer-centric approach and unified product brand would encourage the clients to make independent informed decisions in healthcare. The approach empowers patients to exercise control over their information, welfare, and the means of production for developing their medication (Manolitzas, 2016). For example, it would be effective to launch a marketing campaign that supports a continuum of care and encourages clients to use it appropriately to satisfy their particular demands. Moreover, as a pharmaceutical marketing manager, I would form agreements with the healthcare insurance providers to provide medical cover for my clients to enable them to access costly medical services. The strategy would facilitate mass health coverage through the alignment of marketing objectives with public health benefits to address disparities affecting vulnerable populations.
In addition, I would encourage the review process for my marketing communications to refer to the quality and favorable outcomes as opposed to emotional appeals. A formal review process for marketing communication and the use of endorsements and testimonials in the process facilitates better results for pharmaceutical campaigns as well as reduce the marketing costs. I would ensure the use of appropriate marketing content to avoid misleading my clients. My advertising content would include non-deceptive data, such as website address, telephone numbers, board certification, contracted insurance plans, physicians publications, and hospital affiliations among others. Most of the patients lack adequate education and training regarding pharmacology that is crucial for empowering them to acknowledge the importance and implications of the healthcare information. As a manager, I would organize seminars and outreach programs to sensitize such clients concerning scientific information. The approach would facilitate the management of ethical dilemmas related to incorrect prescriptions, which is detrimental to the patient health and wellbeing (Haseltine, 2013).
Apart from that, as a pharmaceuticals marketing manager, I would source drugs from low-priced manufacturers and sell them to clients at subsidized prices. The strategy would significantly increase my customer base through the creation of customer loyalty. Furthermore, as a manager, I would eliminate any discriminatory attitude in my marketing campaign to avoid ethical dilemmas associated with any form of discrimination in my profession. To address the issue of the language barrier, I would convey the health information to consumers in simple and local English to avoid confusion. I would comply with the HPAA security rule on the issue of data security in the marketing of pharmaceuticals through the implementation of security measures to facilitate the safeguarding of the integrity and security of the patients’ data. I would ensure that the advertising content constitutes accurate and reliable health information meant for enhancing the quality of patient care as opposed to harming patients. I would implement computer design functions to minimize the errors in my marketing content. The approach would result in correct computerized drug prescriptions with minimal errors that would otherwise be detrimental to a patient’s health.
In conclusion, healthcare marketers are required to adopt, communicate, and practice ethical values to build client confidence in the integrity of the healthcare marketing system. The marketers should demonstrate honesty, respect, fairness, citizenship, and openness while marketing to patients. The marketing of health information should focus on the best interests of the patients’ health through reflecting honesty, accuracy, as well as undergoing internal review. The revolutionary e-health requires healthcare marketers to integrate real-time and up-to-date patient insights into their marketing programs to achieve significant progress.