Promoting new pharmaceuticals, marketing the services of physicians or even major hospitals, and educating the public about the role of health professionals in their communities: these are all aspects of health care marketing. While the marketing industry itself is an older profession, with roots in traditional advertising, marketing specific to the health care arena is a fairly new practice. The future of the industry is bright with strong indicators in health marketing employment numbers.
According to Cooper in his text, "Marketing: a Foundation for Managed Quality," the American Hospitals Association held its first marketing convention in 1977. This was the first known effort by a respected industry association toward collaborative efforts focused on promoting various aspects of the health industry. Marketing in health care has since become big business.
The economic value of the health marketing arena is growing -- estimating its exact dollar value is a challenge, yet it is known that thousands of jobs in the United States are directly within the health arena. Advertising agencies often compete for health marketing accounts, due to the lucrative nature of the industry. Health-marketing-only advertising agencies also exist, primarily serving larger hospitals and service centers for major diseases, such as cancer.
Although the health care marketing arena has grown rapidly, it has not been without challenges. The advertising of pharmaceuticals, in particular, has faced many challenges regarding the appropriate promotion of new drugs. Health marketing itself, given the ethical implications and its impact on public good, requires extra consideration during marketing planning. Marketing stakeholders must ensure advertising meets legal and ethical guidelines established by a variety of industry associations.