Social marketing – helping the NHS to save money

A shift away from responsive treatment, in favour of preventive measures

Whatever your opinion is on the state of the NHS, you have to admit, in the wake of increasing pressures, they do cope – just about!

Surely anything that attempts ease the health burden, and the escalating costs associated with it, has to be welcomed.

Can social marketing help?

Social marketing is a technique that is part of the NHS’s wider healthcare strategy. It’s designed to tackle a range of health behaviours at an early stage, before it develops into a health problem that needs costly and sometimes unavoidable treatment.

Why? By encouraging people to be more aware of how their existing health behaviour can influence their future state of health and sense of wellbeing, the NHS and its healthcare partners hope to make better use of available resources, funding and manpower.

Social marketing campaigns are designed to get people to think about their health and lifestyle habits, and then to seriously consider changing their existing behaviour for the better. But it goes one step beyond merely increasing awareness, it also encourages, inspires and motivates people to want to change, and then sustains that over time.

For example, for someone struggling with a mental health issue, a targeted social marketing campaign might encourage that person to visit useful websites, take part in webinars, talk to people, attend drop in centres, use anti-stress techniques etc, all aligned to their specific health requirements. And all designed to confront (and ease) the underlying problem.

Social improvements are being secured

By targeting individuals, communities and groups of people, with the same health issues, from smoking, to drug taking, alcohol abuse, heart conditions, obesity etc, there is huge potential for social and health improvement – and better use of NHS resources.

But it’s not just a question of the NHS needing to change. The bigger issue surely then is: we all need to change our health behaviours to assist the NHS, so it can provide healthcare to the most needy. And if a social marketing agency can help make that happen, then maybe they deserve recognition.

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