Engage with your patients more than ever by publishing provider ratings and reviews, offering online appointment scheduling, integrating your CRM system with your website, and creating an updated, responsive website design.
In healthcare marketing, staying competitive takes many different forms. Keeping ahead of the organization across town. Adjusting to acquisitions and changing alliances. Keeping up to date with ever-changing technology and search algorithms. Exceeding consumers’ ever-increasing expectations.
So while you’ve been cranking away at the day to day, it may feel like your website is drifting behind. But is it time to act? Recent advances and the maturation of several marketing technologies mean that now is the time to shift gears, find your energy and put your site back in the lead.
For many organizations, that sense of “lagging the competition” is centered on website features and functionality. You’re looking to boost the online user experience while simultaneously increasing its alignment with organizational strategy. Where to begin? Let’s look at where one of the most visible areas of your website is headed.
A Five-Star Experience
It’s not uncommon for provider profiles and search functions to make up 25% or more of pageviews for a healthcare website. For a prospective patient, selecting a provider is an important and complicated task. It’s nearly impossible to have too much information.
Provider ratings and reviews are an increasingly important part of patients′ evaluation process. Studies show 60% of patients consult online reviews and 44% would consider going out-of-network for a better-reviewed provider. Why is it so critical to patients? Reviews provide evidence that supports all of the qualitative aspects of choosing providers — how well they listen, how compassionate they seem — that are central to decision making.
Beyond the benefit to patients, there are a number of other reasons to publish provider ratings. This includes promoting a culture of transparency and boosting search engine traffic.
Smart organizations are repurposing the hundreds of responses they receive from existing patient surveys. Not sure your organization is ready to take the leap? It’s still worth putting the legal groundwork in place now so you can publish the survey responses you are already collecting when your organization is ready.
If this is a feature you’re passionate about, identify ways that it supports your organization’s strategic framework and start looking for physician allies to help you make the case. Most organizations that are successfully implementing provider ratings have buy-in from top-level executives and physician leaders.
Online Appointment Scheduling
If you want to learn more about creating a five-star experience, Intuit Health reports that 81% of patients indicate they would schedule online if they could. In fact, 40% of all patients would consider switching providers for the ability to schedule appointments online.
While most of the focus has been on providing scheduling for current patients, typically through patient portals, it’s also important to offer this convenience to new patients. According to SureScripts, 44% of patients will select the doctor who offers online scheduling when presented with two similar physicians.
The drive toward increasing patient acquisition, combined with trends in health consumerism, is leading many organizations to launch real-time scheduling for new patients. To do this, organizations are turning to third-party tools like Zocdoc or The Advisory Board Company’s HealthPost, or going directly through EMRs such as Epic’s MyChart Open Scheduling.
If you’re interested in offering new patient scheduling, start by looking at the functionality available to you through your current technology partners. You may discover that it’s necessary to add a third party to the mix, or that you already have a solution available to you. Just remember, failure to act can mean a significant problem for patient acquisition, while being the first mover in your market can provide you with a definitive advantage.
A Personal Connection
While about half of health systems have a CRM (customer relationship management) system in place, relatively few (around 1 in 4 according to a 2015 survey) have it integrated with their website. This is a missed opportunity to capture critical interactions happening on your site. Interactions with particular content, campaign elements, provider directories — there are so many online touchpoints that you could be capturing and using to help you better target the right individuals on an ongoing basis.
It’s one thing to capture and coalesce data about your audience. It’s another to make effective use of that data to communicate in a personal, scalable and timely manner. Healthcare has significantly lagged other industries in the use of marketing automation and personalization, but this is changing. We appear to have reached a tipping point, and the historic rate of change is not a predictor of the future. More and more health systems, hospitals and clinics are racing to implement robust CRM and marketing automation solutions to help them better connect patients with the care and services they need while staying ahead of the competition.
Keeping the Foundation Solid
No matter where your strategy leads you next, it pays to make sure your website serves as a solid and effective foundation.
The place to start is to make sure you have a design that supports a range of current devices. Not every site is there yet. Even those that have been responsive for a while should take a look at how their design is implemented. Consider the screen size of an iPhone 4, popular just a few years ago, and compare it to the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus. Things have changed a lot.
To keep the user experience current, making small updates and tweaks to responsive breakpoints, font sizes and image resolutions can result in a huge difference. Similarly, updating your site’s markup and code to use the latest best practices can keep sites fast and reliable in the ever-advancing world of browser technology.
Is It Time to Lead the Pack?
With so many different directions (not to mention all of your everyday commitments) how do you choose where to focus?
Check out our webinar on engaging users and delivering results to explore all these trends and identify where the opportunities are for your organization. We’ll also talk about how to build success with small wins that can help you create the momentum needed to regain the lead in your market.