Medical Device Marketing and the Path to a Career in Health Communication

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Two medical professionals use a defibrillator to help a male patient lying on his back with his shirt open.

Medtronic, now the leading medical device company in the world, was started in Earl Bakken’s garage in 1957, generating $8 a month in profit. Today, the company brings in $2.5 billion each month, providing devices like pacemakers to people across the world. A large part of Medtronic’s success is due to its strong communication of its mission: to “alleviate pain, restore health and extend life.”

When a company develops and sells medical devices that provide lifesaving care, effective communication and marketing strategies make a difference. An advanced degree, such as an online Master of Arts in Health Communication, can help individuals develop the competencies, knowledge and experience they need for a career in medical device marketing.

What Is Medical Device Marketing?

Health marketing combines traditional marketing techniques with science-backed strategies to build campaigns that promote health care solutions. Traditional marketing techniques include incorporating the four P’s of marketing into campaigns:

  • Product benefits
  • Price relative to competitors
  • Places the product can be purchased
  • Promotion of the product through key communication and distribution channels

Science-backed strategies include using public health research to identify target audiences based on factors such as medical history, age and location.

While research and data are important for marketing in any industry, they’re particularly necessary in health marketing, where companies have ethical and legal responsibilities to inform audiences who can benefit from care options. Health marketing campaigns commonly educate consumers and companies about relevant medicines, practices, behaviors and technologies.

Medical device marketing specifically involves promoting health care equipment, tools and machinery, such as pacemakers, defibrillators, testing kits and wearable technologies. For example, a doctor can refer a patient at risk of cardiovascular disease to a wearable heart or blood pressure monitor that consistently tracks vital signs. If a doctor gives a patient an HIV testing kit that doesn’t account for the patient’s specific strain, the condition can go undiagnosed, with life-threatening symptoms worsening. It’s the task of the medical device marketer to educate physicians about the appropriate products and ensure that the individual needs of people who use them are addressed.

Medical device marketing campaigns are targeted at companies, medical organizations and health care professionals whose audiences can benefit from certain products. Marketers reach these audiences through online and offline advertisements, trade shows, research studies and direct communication with buyers.

How to Pursue a Career in Medical Device Marketing

Individuals can take key steps to cultivate the education, skills and experience needed to build a career in medical device marketing.

Medical device marketing professionals typically have a bachelor’s degree in communication, marketing, business or a related field. They’ve also gained familiarity with the field through experiences such as internships with medical sales organizations, volunteer programs at medical facilities, or on-the-job work in a related marketing or medical role. Medical device marketing professionals may have also cultivated marketing career experience building an online presence by launching a blog, website or social media page that’s consistently updated with high-quality content.

To develop a successful career in medical device marketing, individuals should acquire core skills in sales and marketing, networking, organization, technical writing and data analysis. Marketers in this field should also be able to conduct market research to better understand customer needs and behaviors, as well as competitor performance. These professionals may be responsible for creating and coordinating marketing schedules with other teams and departments, providing real-time insights about campaign performance and customer needs.

The Benefits of an Education in Health Communication

Education can serve as the foundation for a career in medical device marketing. A communications program, in particular, can help to cultivate vital skills, such as written and interpersonal communication, strategic and critical thinking, health literacy, understanding a target audience and active listening — all skills that can be applied in a medical device marketing position.

In a health communications program, for example, students can learn to effectively pitch products through presentations and marketing campaigns. Medical device marketers can then use this skill to reach distributors and physicians at conferences and trade shows, where they’ll be competing for attention among hundreds of other medical device providers.

Health communications students can also learn how to promote not just product features but also product benefits. Medical device marketers can use this skill to more quickly appeal to customer pain points and emotions, which is necessary given the short product life cycle of medical devices compared with pharmaceuticals. Instead of saying, “This defibrillator has variable escalating energy,” an ad can say, “Be prepared for any emergency with this defibrillator.”

Courses to Develop Key Health Communication Skills

Rider University’s online Master of Arts in Health Communication degree program helps students and professionals to develop these key skills and prepare for a career in medical device marketing through a rigorous curriculum.

  • Business Presentation Strategies. This course provides the tools to develop informative, engaging presentations with messaging that reaches target audiences and appeals to their needs. Students learn how to write for visual media, use current presentation tools, and develop the skills to influence and inspire core constituencies.
  • Information Gathering and Analysis. This course teaches students how to use research methods and analysis techniques to provide critical information that impacts business decisions. Students also learn how to develop research tools, verify information and report results, which can help marketers to lead and optimize campaign strategies.
  • Medical Concepts and Health Writing. This course provides students with foundational knowledge of medical terminology and scientific literature. Students develop the skills to translate complex health information for wide audiences, including underserved populations, and apply these concepts through writing assignments.
  • Health Communication Campaigns. This course guides students in developing campaigns with impactful messaging that can engage consumers and effect change. It covers different types of health campaigns, campaign analysis and campaign goals, such as encouraging preventive behaviors, raising awareness for care solutions and educating people about self-care methods.

Starting a Career in Medical Device Marketing

Rider’s online Master of Arts in Health Communication degree program prepares professionals for advanced careers in health marketing, providing the skills needed to inform communities across the world about critical health care solutions and strategies. Students also gain experience developing campaigns and presentations that can make an impact and translate complex health information to key audiences — so they don’t just join the conversation; they lead it.

Learn more about how Rider’s online Master of Arts in Health Communication can help you to pursue your professional goals in medical device marketing.

Recommended Readings

Charting the Paths to Six Successful Health Communication Careers

How Can Health Communication Experts Assure Sound Ethics in Health Care?

What Is Health Information Technology and How Does It Impact Health Communication?

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Gateway to Health Communication

Evaluate, “Worldwide medtech sales forecast to reach $595 billion by 2024, with a CAGR of 5.6%, anchored by familiar players”

Forbes, “How a Founder’s Story Fueled Medtronic’s Growth From a Tiny Garage to a $120B Brand”

HubSpot, “How to Become a Medical Sales Rep (Even If You Have No Experience)” 

Medical Product Outsourcing, “8 Key Focal Points When Marketing Medical Devices” 

PR Newswire, “New Marketing Career Path Study Delivers Road Map for Producing Future Company Leaders in Pharmaceutical Industry” 

Rider University, Master of Arts in Health Communication

UP, “Marketing Medical Devices: 10 Things I Have Learned” 

U.S. News & World Report, Marketing Manager