It should be no surprise to anyone that analysts who study healthcare marketing trends say 2021 will be dominated by the ongoing disruptions and industry-altering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.


If there is one thing a market hates, it’s uncertainty. Unfortunately for the healthcare industry, the pandemic has created a level of uncertainty that dwarfs the dark days of the HIV/AIDS outbreak of the 1980s, the swine flu (H1N1) of 2009, and the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016.


So much is still in flux about the novel coronavirus. There is no solid idea about when an effective vaccine will be available. Infection cases rise and fall wildly from state to state, month to month. On a national scale, the U.S. has veered back and forth between 10,000 new cases a day to 60,000 — and no one knows where it’s heading.


Thus, markets say the biggest trends among healthcare industry leaders will be strenuous efforts to establish more certainty, find better ways to reassure the public that the medical community knows what it’s doing, and is working hard to stabilize standard modes of delivery of all services.


While the medical community had been trending in the wrong direction in terms of public trust for some time, COVID-19 has poured gasoline on the problem.


According to Forbes, a dismal 24% of adults said they trust that major healthcare providers are putting the well-being of patients first. Most people surveyed said they believe healthcare providers are too focused on profits rather than people. That especially includes the pharmaceutical sector and private insurance companies.


Healthcare marketers agree that building better communication between the industry and its consumers must be a key area of concentration. The extent to which healthcare marketers can overcome the noise to meet demand and reassure customers will be the measure of success.


Despite the enormous challenges, some industry observers see this as a fantastic opportunity for brand-building and to burnish their reputations. For example, 52% of customers say they prefer to buy from companies that have shown they are serious about protecting customers against COVID-19.


Those entities within the healthcare industry who come out looking heroic, or at least an agent of stability, can emerge on the other side of the pandemic with an unshakable aura of trust. The marketing and monetary value of that quality are priceless.