If medical organizations want to remain competitive in an increasingly patient-centric environment, they should start taking digital marketing cues from other consumer-facing industries.
Across nearly every industry, consumers have slowly but surely gained the upper hand in the business-customer relationship. In large part, this is a symptom of the internet, or, more specifically, the rise of the search engines. When making purchasing decisions, consumers can conduct their own research, compare prices, and effortlessly choose from a long list of options.
It should therefore come as no surprise that businesses of all types and sizes are investing heavily in not only optimizing their digital presence, but in user experience (UX) design and consumer engagement as well. Unfortunately, the medical industry is still somewhat behind the curve when it comes to digital marketing best practices — here are five patient engagement lessons that medical organizations can learn from other industries to help grow and maintain their business.
1. Keep it Simple
Today’s patients want seamless access to relevant and helpful information, whether it be related to specific conditions, or to your facilities and members on staff. Publishing regularly on your blog, maintaining an active presence on social media, and responding to emails quickly will be key when it comes to attracting new patients and retaining existing ones. Just make sure to avoid overly complex medical language that might confuse or frustrate a reader. Health food companies don’t give prospective customers a grad level chemistry lesson on the back of the box — make sure you present information in a way that’s appropriate for your audience.
2. Streamline Patient Interactions
In the age of on-demand goods and services, patients expect nothing less from their healthcare providers. Make sure you’re making it as easy as possible for prospective patients to give you their business — for example, online appointment booking is a must, and setting up auto-text and/or email reminders can help significantly reduce the number of missed appointments.
3. Don’t Make Them Wait
On a similar note, as “Now” economy service providers like Netflix, Uber, and Seamless continue to fan the flames of instant gratification, patients are becoming increasingly...err...impatient. The amount of time that someone is willing to stay on hold, sit in the waiting room, or even spend searching for your practice or hospital online is diminishing rapidly. Medical organizations need to make sure they’re optimizing every step of the patient journey, from online discovery to a well-structured IVR to cutting-edge practice management software, if they want to remain competitive going forward.
4. Personalize the Entire Experience
By now, personalization has become a baseline expectation for online consumers. Historically speaking, the internet has been a cold, impersonal place — but today, medical practices can leverage flexible branding and digital ad targeting to ensure that specific patient demographics receive only the most relevant and relatable information, dramatically increasing the chances of conversion. Service industries like insurance, finance, and healthcare are typically built upon the customer relationships and loyalty that only comes with a personal touch. Why shouldn’t that same approach be taken online?
5. Be Consistent!
Creating a consistent experience for consumers, both on and offline, can go a long way when it comes to growing and retaining your patient base. The fast food industry has built itself on this very concept — companies like McDonald’s, Chipotle, and Subway have locations across the globe, and yet consumers know they can expect the same basic experience regardless of where they are.
Admittedly, comparing fast food and healthcare sounds kind of paradoxical, but the basic concept is useful. Even if you’re a single-branch hospital or practice, creating a consistent and positive experience for each patient will go a long way when it comes to peer referrals and long-term loyalty.
Unsurprisingly, your ability to remain competitive in an increasingly patient-centric healthcare landscape will ultimately depend on your ability to meet the evolving needs and expectations of your target audience online. Are you taking all of the necessary measures to keep up?