The Evolving Healthcare IT Buyer Journey: New Research and Insights on Healthcare Purchasing

HIMSS recently conducted a study on how healthcare purchasing decisions are made in today’s complex healthcare environment and the evolving healthcare IT (HIT) buyer journey. The research was presented for the latest The Healthtech Marketing Show Live. This included insights from a panel of healthcare marketing experts, including Matt Carollo (HIMSS), Kaycee Kalpin (Premier Inc), Karsten Russell-Wood (Equum Medical), and your truly, as host Adam Turinas (Health Launchpad).

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Research Methodology and Defining Healthcare IT

The research included responses from 86 healthcare executives and leaders involved in technology purchase decisions. As Karsten noted, defining exactly what constitutes “healthcare IT” can be a challenge given the breadth of solutions and rapid pace of innovation. However, he summarized it as “based on the digital transformation that’s happening in organizations aimed at improving patient care and ultimately outcomes.” This includes electronic records, data exchange, telehealth, remote monitoring, wearables, and artificial intelligence.

Healthcare Purchasing: More Complex and Taking Longer Than Ever

A key theme from the research on healthcare purchasing involves an increasingly complex “buyer collective” spanning multiple roles. 60-70% of organizations reported five or more people are involved, with over 25% saying 10+ people spanning executive leadership, clinicians, finance, operations, and more.

As Kaycee observed,

“The complexity of the buying committee, along with the length of the buying cycle…really reinforces why we are spending much more on account-based marketing today.”

With more decision-makers and influencers in evolved in healthcare purchasing, personalized outreach over an extended period is imperative.

The research found that 50% of respondents report a buying cycle exceeding 19 months, whereas five years ago, most said 12 months. As Karsten noted, this means “conditioning access to information” over that whole lengthy buying journey.

Content That Drives Decisions in Healthcare Purchasing

When it comes to content consumption, the research uncovered a major shift compared to 5 years ago. Then, over 50% said content was too “product-oriented” or “sales-focused”, but today 86% want to see product demos and vendor-created content like case studies and white papers. Peer perspectives and proprietary research still matter, but there is much greater openness to promotional content.

Karsten observed that “buyers are more empowered and participatory in the research than in prior years.” Rather than passively receiving whatever a vendor provides, they proactively seek out content to inform decisions.

Driving Healthcare Purchasing Through Proven Success

When evaluating vendors, the #1 selection factor was “proven success with other healthcare customers”, with interoperability and security also topping the list. This demonstrates the importance of showcasing client case studies and performance data.

As Karsten noted on interoperability in healthcare purchasing, achieving true system integration remains an elusive goal for many providers, even if the need is clear. Workforce challenges also are demanding senior leadership attention, as Kaycee highlighted. She gave the example of “how can your AI solutions help us cut back on labor?” This links back to that top priority of showing proven ability to deliver measurable outcomes.

Getting Content to the Collective via Multiple Channels

Regarding accessing information, the study on healthcare purchasing found a plurality of participants turned to vendor websites first, with in-person events and webinars/virtual events next on the list. As Kaycee observed, this signals

“buyers know what they want”

and are actively researching solutions online to validate decisions.

However, relationship-building remains vital to earning trust. The research showed in-person events generated greater trust and confidence than even industry peers. As Karsten stated,

“we have rebounded to a world where we want to get personal and getting personal makes the difference.”

He emphasized relationship development over a long buying journey versus any one-off transactional sale is key in healthcare purchasing.

Key Takeaways for Marketing Success in Healthcare Purchasing

Matt Carollo from HIMSS nicely summarized key takeaways:

  • The healthcare purchasing buyer collective is growing in size and complexity
  • Buying cycles continue getting longer
  • Content preferences now include vendor-specific product info
  • Proven success is vital; providers want partners, not just vendors
  • Getting the right content to buyers via trusted channels drives action

In closing, Kaycee advocated for greater collaboration amongst solutions providers to best address urgent healthcare system needs. Karsten similarly called for patient-centric thinking and figuring out how specific solutions can drive efficiency and quality gains providers are demanding.

Actions You Can Take

Here are eight key actions for marketing and to help you overcome the barriers in healthcare purchasing:

  1. Identify all buying committee members upfront and continue mapping throughout long sales cycles
  2. Develop detailed ideal customer profiles to target outreach precisely
  3. Create a content calendar spanning awareness, consideration, and decision stages
  4. Showcase client success stories and performance data as much as possible
  5. Prioritize account-based, personalized outreach across channels, including email, social media, and events
  6. Develop trust by positioning your team as a partner, not just a vendor
  7. Collaborate with other vendors and influencers to maximize credibility
  8. Continuously monitor buyer research behavior online for engagement clues and adjust outreach accordingly

If you liked this post and want to learn more…

  1. Check out more posts like this in the Healthtech MarketingLearning Center. It is chock-full of articles, use cases, how-to’s, and ideas to get you with healthcare purchasing challenges.
  2. Follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I publish videos and articles on ABM and healthtech marketing.
  3. Buy Total Customer Growth: Our book on how to win and grow customers for life with ABM and ABX.
  4. Work with me directly. Let’s book a growth session and we can explore ways you can improve your marketing using the latest techniques in account-based marketing.
Posted by Adam Turinas
Posted in Healthtech Marketing Show, Marketing to Healthcare on February 12, 2024

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About the Author Adam Turinas

Hi, I am Adam Turinas, Health Launchpad's founder. I am passionate about helping healthtech firms succeed through better sales and marketing. I have hard-earned experience in healthcare technolgy as I started two healthcare businesses in the US, the first with zero healthcare experience. We sold the second business to a strategic buyer seven years later. Over 9 years building a healhtech businesses, I have learned how to sell and market effectively to healthcare organizations. Prior to this, I spent two decades in digital marketing across healthcare and other consumer industries where I sold over $100 million in products and services to corporations and healthcare orgs. I would love to talk with you. You can book a call with me on the right hand side. Best Adam (This is page 0 of many)Enter your text here...