As the healthcare industry inches towards retail-based customer experience, high patient expectations extend beyond the doctor’s office. Online interactions are just as impactful as in-person contacts and can affect a practice’s reputation equally.
It doesn’t take much to alienate your patients online and make them choose a new provider. Just like in your practice, one bad digital incident can harm the overall patient experience. One bad move (or lack of any movement) in digital media, and you could see your patients start taking their care to other facilities who make it easier for them. What can you do to avoid this and keep them engaged via different touchpoints? We have some suggestions.
“62% of patients said good communication and continuous engagement mattered the most for them.”
Why Is Digital Patient Engagement Important?
What makes patient engagement via digital channels so essential for both patients and clinicians? Why do healthcare providers go to extreme lengths to understand the struggles of the modern healthcare consumer, address critical patient pain points, and build effective digital engagement strategies?
- Reason #1: Increased patient satisfaction. Around 81% of consumers are dissatisfied with their healthcare experience, especially young patients. Getting them involved in the decision-making process, giving access to health data, and communicating changes are all efficient ways to win back their trust.
- Reason #2: Greater patient accountability. Patients that are encouraged to better understand their condition feel empowered and responsible for their health. With easy access to verified online data and knowledge provided by healthcare providers, they make informed decisions that are no longer beyond their control.
- Reason #3: Improved health and well-being. Educated and engaged patients take an interest in their health and know themselves well enough to spot early symptoms of an illness. Also, healthier patients have more trust in their doctors and are less likely to skip check-ups or scheduled procedures.
- Reason #4. Lower costs. In retail, it is more cost-efficient to engage existing clients than to attract new ones. The same rule applies to medical facilities. While disengaged patients tend to display poor health outcomes, their counterparts experience fewer complications and require fewer visits.
“Acquiring a new customer is five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.”
[Source: Harvard Business Review]
How to Increase Digital Patient Engagement?
Building s long-term digital patient engagement strategy takes time, the right specialists, and an understanding of patient needs. Unfortunately, faced with daunting challenges in the US healthcare system, clinicians often lack a complete picture of what consumers value the most. According to the research conducted by PwC, there are five categories of customer experience making patients more engaged: convenience, quality, support, personalization and communication.
Addressing all these categories at once is a difficult task, especially for small medical practices often short on people and resources. Nonetheless, you can still take small steps to meet your patients’ needs better and faster:
1. Digital content
For starters, the first step to strengthening your online presence to increase patient engagement. People like to do their research before contacting a healthcare provider. However, 52% of Americans doubt the credibility of information on the Internet. This is where digital content steps in. By sharing your knowledge and insights through personalized content like blog articles, videos, and social media posts, you build your authority and establish your medical practice as a trustworthy facility. Also, encouraging satisfied patients to leave your practice online reviews is a great way to start building your online credibility as well. This method is free and can be started immediately.
2. Telehealth services
Remote services bring healthcare to places where medical services are hard to reach. Patients are no longer limited to their region, as the Internet allows them to visit different physicians across the country virtually. Telemedicine benefits everyone who seeks alternatives to face-to-face doctor appointments, and in the next few years, we will see more patients opting for this solution.
[Source: Insider Intelligence]
3. Personalized approach
Get to know your patients. Efficient communication may be challenging, but it makes a tremendous difference in treatment. By listening and asking insightful questions, you stimulate interaction, inviting the patient to participate actively in the interaction. Be sure to avoid the biggest communication mistakes.
To keep in touch with your patients, provide them with an intuitive online appointment scheduling tool, send check-up reminders, and implement an online prescription renewal to minimize unnecessary visits. And make sure no call of theirs goes unanswered.
4. Feedback and insights
Before deciding on a provider, patients rely on online reviews as much as friends or family recommendations. It’s best to avoid negative comments, but you should always give your patients a space to leave feedback and use it to your advantage.
“90% of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians”
[Source: Software Advice]
Access to their documentation helps patients understand their condition and keeps them engaged with the upcoming treatment phases. Collecting more data gives clinicians a bigger picture of the patient’s health—even remotely with mobile apps.
People prefer different communication channels. For some, the first choice might be a phone call; for others, email. Many individuals like using dedicated patient platforms or applications. With that in mind, try tailoring your customer service to your patients’ preferences to reach them no matter the distance.
Digital Patient Engagement Strategies – Small Steps Towards Success
The most important shortcut to efficient patient engagement is learning the value of the customer experience. With over 1 billion health-related Google searches daily, the online presence influences patients’ view of your services before they even walk through your door. Time to leave traditional healthcare ways behind and embrace the modern trends of the digital era. If you need receptionists or after hours medical answering services to help answer the increase in your calls, leave it to professionals!