Healthcare Marketers Face Privacy Dilemma

Apple HealthKit presents a dilemma for healthcare marketers.

Apple’s introduction of its HealthKit promises to take the healthcare app category to the next level of consumer awareness and adoption.  HealthKit presents the user with a total picture of their health in a sleek, intuitive dashboard. But it also presents a dilemma for healthcare marketers.

The Financial Times reported that Apple will prohibit developers from selling an end-user’s health data to third parties, including ad platforms, data brokers and resellers. Apple’s reasoning, according to FT, include regulatory and competitive issues (Google’s income relies heavily on targeted ad revenue.)

Let me suggest that Apple may have a third reason that is critical to marketers.  Consumers are zealous about protecting their personal health information.  When they are presented with digital ads that are obviously targeting them based on health information they’ve provided, they aren’t mildly upset, they are furious.  A trust has been broken.  They feel violated.  Perhaps they will recall the offending ad, but only in the most negative context.

Consider the person that has been recently diagnosed with a chronic condition. Understandably, the person may be selective in discussing the diagnosis with family members, friends or co-workers.  Every time they turn on their phone or click on a browser, suddenly they are faced with ad after ad relating to the condition.  They feel like they’ve lost all control over their most personal and sensitive information.  The marketer may have just lost a potential customer for life.

There is a better alternative for health & wellness marketers.  Point-of-care and Influence marketing offers a way to introduce brands into the conversation between patients and caregivers.  There is a high level of trust, credibility and relevancy, where consumers feel free and open to discuss their most personal thoughts and concerns.

I’m sure that Apple was deliberate and reasoned in developing its no-resale policy. But underneath the reams of regulatory and competitive rationale, there is an intuitive understanding of human nature and our deepest feelings about our health and privacy.  It’s an understanding that is critical to all forms of health & wellness marketing.

Financial Times “Apple tightens privacy rules for health apps”

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