Modern healthcare providers live in a vastly different world than their predecessors. According to Jeff Lagasse, the Associate Editor of Healthcare Finance, “The healthcare industry of old is evaporating, making way for a marketplace that looks more like retail. That represents a challenge, but also an opportunity, because providers who concoct an appropriate strategy are poised to capture a larger share of the market.” In short, the patient (customer) experience your practice or hospital system provides must be more engaging than your competition and on par with digitally savvy consumer businesses outside the healthcare industry. So just what is the modern patient expecting, and how can you meet their expectations? You let your marketing technology stack do the heavy lifting for you.
#1: Consider Your Digital Experience
It’s vitally important to your future success to regularly review your patient’s journey, as well as the accommodations your competitors offer in the realm of convenience, ease and accessibility. For example, most patients begin their journey via search, so it’s critical to ensure your site is optimized for search (SEO). In fact, according to the latest statistics the percent of patients who conduct a search before scheduling an appointment are:
- 71% — Physicians and Surgeons
- 69% — Hospitals
- 67% — Clinics
- 74% — Optometrists
- 84% — Physical Therapists
- 71% — Dentists
If a patient finds your hospital or practice via a review site, and they click through to your website using their mobile device, here are the questions you need answers to:
- Is our site mobile friendly? How long does it take for a page to load? If your load times are more than two seconds, you just lost a potential patient.
- Can a patient easily book an appointment online? How many steps does it take and can any of those steps be eliminated?
- Are there multiple ways to engage in a conversation, i.e. messaging, chat, phone and email?
- Are all of the aforementioned conversation-starters currently monitored? For example, if a chat-bot cannot answer an inquiry, what happens next? How quickly are SMS and email queries answered?
Create a Seamless Digital Experience
As you fine-tune the online experience your hospital system or practice offers, you will soon discover that the platforms and tools in your marketing technology stack can help you improve your digital experience by automating many of the processes. However, first you must connect them in ways that enable them to share data. Connecting the tech in your stack via easy-to-implement integrations not only improves the patient experience, but it enables you to optimize workflows, eliminate manual steps, and enable your systems, platforms, tools and apps to share data in ways that improve its quality, and ultimately, your understanding of the patients you serve.
#2: Connect With Patients Via Their Preferred Channels
Your patients want to be able to connect with your hospital or practice via the types of media channels (social, SMS, email, phone, etc.) they prefer to use. Implementing a cross-channel approach and incorporating more media channels helps ensure your patient communications and marketing campaigns find their audience. If you are unsure how your patients prefer to be contacted, ask them via new patient forms. You should also consider sending current patients a quick survey about preferred contact methods, which is a great way to secure opt-in permissions and ensure data compliance.
Communication Channels to Consider
If you have been toying with the idea of going beyond phone calls and adding more communication channels, we recommend adding new channels one at a time. Doing so will ensure your marketing team has worked out any issues that might arise when using something new. It also allows them to communicate with confidence. A few channels to consider include:
- SMS/MMS – SMS (text) or MMS (messages with audio/video) boast an average open rate of 99%, and 97% are read within 15 minutes of delivery.
- Push – Push notifications enable you to send time-sensitive messages to patients without requiring them to open an app – they simply pop-up on their mobile or desktop screen.
- Voice — Sending patients automated voice messages isa great way to connect with patients who are less digitally inclined.
- Direct Mail — Tactile remindersin a digital world are a smart way to cut through the noise and ensure your messages are seen and retained.
- Chat — Quick and convenient,chatempowers healthcare providers to be present and provide patients with instant communication gratification.
Use Case for Cross Channel Engagement
In addition to freeing your staff to focus on the folks inside the waiting room, the channels we listed above can be used to deliver a myriad of patient communications, including, but not limited to:
- Appointment reminders, confirmations, reschedules and cancellations
- Staff schedule changes and calendar updates
- Motivational health campaigns
- Health and medication news, tips and facts
- Educational information i.e. preventive measures, chronic care needs, etc.
- Product and service launches, updates and recall information
- Secure codes to access private files and pick up prescriptions
- Alerts for medication refills, pick-ups, shipping and reorders
- Invitations to health fares, local screenings, care groups, and events
- Specials offers, promotions and service discounts
#3: Personalize the Patient Experience
Regardless of the channels you use to send campaigns, make sure the connections you form with your patients are relevant and personally meaningful. Using general data from your CRM, you can provide patients with a wonderful experience by supplying them with the information and insights they are seeking. A few HIPAA compliant ways you can personalize communications for patients include sending:
- Blog posts and e-books on topics specific to their interests
- Online brochures concerning treatments, new technology and services
- Invitations to patient portals, moderated forums and support groups
In a recent Forbes article, Blake Morgan of CMO Network talked about the many ways healthcare providers can engage patients through personalized experiences and gave a Florida hospital system high praise for their thoughtful use of patient data. “Orlando Health uses large amounts of patient data to provide personalized communications to new mothers. Moms can choose a track to focus on, such as caring for a new baby or caring for family and receive regular, personalized emails to address questions they may have. Instead of aimlessly searching the internet for help, new moms can get their individual questions answered right in their inbox,” said Morgan.
Prepare to Personalize Your Patient Communications
If you’re ready to engage patients on a personal level, you will want to add a content personalization tool to your current martech stack. Essentially you need one that will allow you to mine all the first-party data residing within your connected tech and automate the delivery of personalized communications and campaigns across multiple channels. In the event you are missing particular data attributes that you would like to use to personalize campaigns, you can purchase high-quality third-party data from folks like ZoomInfo.
You’ve Got This
The wonderful thing about marketing technology is that it makes the complex task of creating a highly personalized and seamless, cross-channel patient experience a simpler and infinitely more scalable endeavor. Best of all, as you leverage your martech tools to build patient relationships, you will find that the efforts you make will be rewarded with greater patient engagement, loyalty and satisfaction.