We can clearly see the impact technology is having across nearly, if not, all industries – and healthcare is no exception. The changes in user behavior across digital channels is shaping patient behavior, and at the same time questions around potential changes to healthcare legislation are putting new demands on health care systems.
Even with the future somewhat unclear, one thing is certain – patients continue to expect improved experiences across digital touchpoints, and we are seeing some clear healthcare digital marketing trends and opportunities with our clients.
1. Brand Matters.
Brand, as it relates to the digital space, is the new bedside manner. Health systems need to operate with the understanding that their brand is more visible and more critical to their success ever before. The accumulated experiences of the brand combines to create a singular reaction from an audience, and if a brand is strong, that reaction will incite customers to think of them first, be willing to spend more money on their service, or recommend them to new audiences.
2. Delivering The New Patient Experience.
Patients want to know how much it’s going to cost, and are more likely than ever to “shop around” for a service. Patients are behaving more like consumers, and this new “health-sumer” is now expecting an Amazon or a Walgreens level of transparency, customer focus, and execution.
This patient behavior has led to an emergence of healthcare rating sites like ZocDoc and health Grades which are providing healthcare provider information and yelp-like reviews, making management of digital reputation another important component of healthcare brand and digital strategy.
3. Patients expect to manage health online.
We know that patients are already increasingly becoming accustomed to accessing their information results online through a patient portal, but frictionless and seamless online experiences on sites like Zulily and Domino’s Pizza are impacting overall user expectation.
According to a study commissioned by Google, “44% of patients who research hospitals on a mobile device scheduled an appointment.” (Read more about the Omni-channel Digital Experience)
4. Dr. Google is always on call.
The internet has become a main source of medical information. Consumers are becoming avid researchers; no longer solely relying on doctors to tell them what is wrong.
According to that same study by Google, “84% of patients use both online and offline sources for hospital research and patients primarily search on symptoms and condition terms towards the moment of conversion.” This is creating a highly competitive landscape, and also an opportunity for healthcare systems to provide the information and resources to be healthcare consumer’s go-to, trusted resource for all aspects of the patient journey.
Healthcare systems can take note from other industries who have embraced inbound marketing. Providing valuable, easy to use, and digestible content can help healthcare systems instill trust in their expertise and grow patient loyalty at the same time. Some well-known healthcare systems like Boston Children’s Hospital are exploring voice-enabled technology with Amazon’s Echo as part of this strategy to further engage with their audience.
5. People track their own health data.
There are a multitude of new devices to capture patient data – Apple’s healthkit, Fitbit, running apps, iPhone compatible ECG readers. A growing number of patients are already used to seeing their health data mapped, catalogued and displayed – and it is only a matter of time before they expect the same from their medical providers.
Healthcare is the ultimate service industry by the very nature of the work they do – helping people live better. But the digital interactions that are taking place in people’s day-to-day lives have now created an expectation that essentially all interactions are frictionless, seamless, and easy. The upside is, when done right, organizations can transform healthcare through digital patient engagement, and these digital patient experiences can translate to increased patient volume, online appointment conversion, and improved patient satisfaction.