Many people have come up with different definitions of the term health care. But a consensus seems to emerge that it is the treatment and management of diseases. Its goal is to preserve the health of the individual. This is done through services that are availed by the medical fraternity.
They include medical, nursing, and pharmaceutical amongst others. When these services are especially offered by the private sector, there is need to let the consumer know of their existence. This is where health care advertising comes in. it involves itself with the promotion of health care products and services that are offered by the medical practitioners and their availability.
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Before embarking on the task of examining advertising in health care, it is important perhaps to understand the phenomenon of advertising. It has bee broadly defined as the act of promoting products and services. The major goal of this promotion is to increase the sales of the item or service. But other goals also exist, like that of creating a brand identity. The producer can also use an advert to inform the consumers on the changes, availability or development of new products. This practice is an integral part of most companies and institutions.
As such, a considerable portion of their budget is allocated to advertising. This is no different in the health care sector. Manufacturers of medical equipments, providers of health care and pharmaceutical companies all wants to sensitize the public on the availability and superiority of their services and products. This paper is going to examine this practice in the health care sector.
The broad objective of this study is to examine advertising in the health care sector. To achieve this, the study will be guided by several specific objectives. These specific objectives are as listed below:
1. a general overview of advertising in health care sector
2. different types of health care advertisement
3. purposes and goals of advertising in health care
Sometime back, it was considered unethical to advertise health care services. This is because it was considered that the advertisement was a way of rejoicing in the ill health of others. However, that era is long gone. A thirty minutes duration spent in front of a television set in America and other developed nations is enough to make one realize that health care advertisement is a booming business in today’s society.
One is bombarded with adverts that range from those advertising for a cough syrup, those promoting supplements, to those dealing with prescription and generic drugs. The reality of this phenomenon is amplified when one considers the fact that these only are the adverts that are beamed over the media. There are others that are not observed by the consumer in his sitting room. These are the ones that are targeted at corporations and government institutions (Kongstvedt: 2007).
Any health care service or product needs to be availed to the consumer out there, for whom they are targeted. This includes hospitals, medical equipments, and drugs amongst others. The kind of the product, together with the targeted audience, will determine what kind of advertising will be carried out (Manohar: 2008). Several companies and organizations have been formed that assist the producers of health care to package and deliver their adverts to their target audience.
These companies may combine their health care advertising services with other mainstream type of adverts, without specializing only in health care products and services. However, some of these agencies have specialized in advertising for the heath care producers only (Weber: 2001).
Some health care advertising agencies have gone further and specialized in advertising a certain health care product or service. For example, there are those that specialize in marketing generic drugs, others in medical equipments like microscopes and others, while still, others specialize in promoting medical services like hospitals and nursing homes.
As indicated earlier, adverts in health care takes different forms, depending on the kind of product and the target audience (Yadin: 2009). For example, a product or service meant for the direct consumption of the client will be advertised probably in the mass media, where the target audience is likely to be accessed easily.
However, a product or service meant for the health care providers like the doctors and hospitals will be advertised using the corporate method. This is because the target audience is the health institution or corporation, and not the final consumer out there (Ellingson & Dubois: 2006).
Many health care adverts carried out today have several predetermined goals (Kongstvedt: 2007). When the advertiser contacts his advertising agency, he has a clearly defined intent of carrying out the advertisement. These goals range from increasing the volume of sales, creating awareness, or what the analysts call creating the brand, and also communicating with the consumer on some changes or developments that have been carried out on an already existing product or service. Whatever the goal is, the advert is crafted with it in mind. The success of the advert is judged by the degree to which it attains the articulated and expected results.