Physician-patient demographic matching can significantly impact healthcare outcomes and clinical trust, according to a recent study.

Initiative, a 2024 MM+M Agency 100 honoree, released research focusing on how medical marketers can close the health equity gap when it comes to marketing towards patients and healthcare professionals (HCP). 

One of the most significant takeaways is that the profile of doctors in America is becoming younger and more diverse, which affects how they practice and interact with patients.

While more than 60% of HCPs today are men, that is expected to change drastically over the next five years, with a marked decline in male HCP representation and simultaneous increase in female HCP representation.

Meanwhile, while white HCPs account for nearly 60% of HCPs, that number is expected to drop by 11% over the same period, with representation of Asian and Hispanic doctors expected to increase by double digits.

Initiative found that the media habits of doctors with diverse backgrounds tend to differ from traditional profiles, which requires marketers to adapt their strategies to reach these groups effectively.

Vaishali Mokashi, Initiative’s head of HCP strategy, told MM+M that one-size-fits-all approaches to HCP marketing are ineffective. 

She added that medical marketers need to consider cultural, generational and regional differences when targeting HCPs.

She said that while discussions related to health inequalities often center on the race and gender of the patient, due attention should be paid to the race and gender of the physician as well.

That’s why the agency is heralding the marketing concept of “demo-matching,” which prioritizes the race and gender of both parties in order to ensure equitable care. 

Ultimately, progress in terms of achieving meaningful health equity requires more than just spending money on HCP advertising, Mokashi added.

“As a marketer, what we need to start doing is educating when the demo-match doesn’t happen and find the right way to connect with the patient,” she said. 

The report encourages demo-matching to overcome HCP biases through education and tailoring messages more appropriately to improve patient outcomes, such as reducing instances of sex and race mortality in the hospital.

Initiative estimated that such an approach can result in up to a 25% improvement in health outcomes along with a 10% to 15% reduction in media dollars cost per script.