When booking new appointments, today’s patients expect seamless experiences on- and offline.
It’s no secret that today’s consumers are impatient — but with the emergence of services like Amazon’s same-day delivery, the ability to pre-order lattes at Starbucks, and cheap, on-demand media platforms like Netflix and Spotify, can you really blame them?
Unfortunately, this trend has presented a number of significant challenges for hospital administrators and marketers. Patients are no longer willing to put up with being put on hold for an extended period, slow or difficult-to-navigate websites, or even long wait times when they show up for their appointments. Moreover, approximately 70% of consumers today are willing to share their negative experiences with friends and family on- and offline, so ensuring a positive patient experience is more important than ever.
Here are a few key areas hospitals need to focus on in order to make the path to treatment as frictionless as possible, thereby boosting their ability to acquire new patients and retain existing ones.
Optimize Your Website
The average adult spends about 20 hours online per week (the average Millennial, about 27) — and as technologies and connectivity have improved exponentially in recent years, there’s been a corresponding shift in consumer habits and expectations surrounding their online experiences.
Firstly, the way in which people consume content is changing — today, 55% of visitors stay on given page for less than 15 seconds, and only read about 20% of the text on that page. Therefore, it’s vital that your website be highly scannable. Headlines should be clearly visible, with body text broken into small, digestible pieces or bulleted lists. Headlines should also include search query-specific keywords, thereby enabling site visitors to locate the information they need as soon as they land on the page (this will help boost your organic search ranking as well).
According to Zenith’s Media Consumption Forecasts, mobile web traffic overtook desktop last year and will likely see an additional 28% increase in 2017 — in other words, ensuring your website is optimized for mobile browsing is no longer optional. Drop your site’s URL into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Tester to see if it’s up to snuff.
Don’t Forget About the Phones
The importance of an optimized interactive voice response system (IVR) is often overlooked by hospital marketers; however, it can have a massive impact on patient acquisition and retention numbers. In fact, approximately 80% of consumers say they would no longer patronize a business after a negative IVR experience. Luckily, there are a few simple changes you can make to keep your phone tree from becoming a competitive disadvantage.
The people calling your hospital will generally fall into one of three categories:
- New patients
- Existing patients
- Miscellaneous salespeople and administrators
As a standing rule, your system should always prioritize new patients — that means never burying the information they’re looking for deep in the recording. People typically lose patience with a pre-recorded message after 30 to 45 seconds, so try to present new patients with the option to book a new appointment as quickly as possible.
On a more fundamental level, questions beyond location hours and directions should be answered by reception staff whenever possible — in fact, our own research suggests that about 71% of patients hang up the phone upon encountering a computerized phone system (and 82% of those patients never call back). Ensuring your reception department has the capacity and proper training to field calls quickly and effectively will have a measurable impact on your bottom line.
As patient expectations continue to skyrocket, hospitals must be sure they’re doing everything within their power to facilitate a seamless path to treatment — with so many options available, even the smallest roadblock can be the difference between a new patient and a missed opportunity.