In this digital era, consumers are changing the way they engage with healthcare providers. And, as the audience of people using the Internet to look for diagnoses, prognoses and treatments, expands health providers need to actively join the conversation.
As virtual health interactions are growing exponentially, here is a list of digital “musts” for a healthcare provider:
Telemedicine: Telemedicine has been proven to reduce costs not only for providers and payers, but also for patients. It generates additional revenue even as it saves patients’ money. And, according to a recent research by the American Telemedicine Association, patient satisfaction also increases with the use of telemedicine.
Patients value this form of interaction because it gives them personalized care, and it provides an opportunity to talk with a specialist that is qualified in the area of diagnosis.
Studies have also reveled that there is no difference in results between in-person care and telemedicine. Telemedicine produces the same outcomes when getting clinical information, making diagnoses and developing a treatment plan.
Social Media: Social media is an effective communication tool that allows healthcare professionals to promote content and raise brand awareness.
Social media channels are also good listening tools that allow healthcare marketers to track what people are talking about and participate by offering comments about relevant medical news, trends, and new treatment advances.
Social media allows providers to participate and create dialogue way before an actual engagement. It’s very important not to use those channels to push out advertising and sales messages; most social channels are for non-invasive, non-commercial dialogue.
The intent really should be to participate as an interested and qualified member of the channel community. But, people are interested in information, helpful opinions and tips. Video content is a great way to present information and drive viral sharing.
Online patient reviews: Consumers in all categories increasingly begin a professional relationship with a check of online reviews. This is as true —if not more so— in healthcare as in any category. Reviews matter in the choice of a physician or care facility. The majority of patients read reviews before choosing a doctor.
The most sought after information in a review is the quality of care, followed by the ratings. It would be a great policy to have hospital staff that after a consultation would send an email to their patients reminding them to review them online.
Mobile friendly: In the past year, slightly more than 50% of smartphone users used their phones to look for health information. People use smartphones for shopping, doing business, even staying in contact with friends, so it’s not surprising that they also use their phones to look for healthcare options.
Offering a responsive web design —that is, having your website optimized for mobile— should be a priority to accommodate mobile users, as almost every American has a mobile phone nowadays (which is rarely turned off).
Content: It is important to create quality content —rich and valid information— to educate and help both patients and prospects make informed decisions.
It’s important to know potential patients’ questions and concerns because it helps guide specialized content that the audience wants to read —especially when related to the particular specialty you offer.
But, the online healthcare audience isn’t interested in superficial fluff or in a string of news about your business. They want advice on a particular issue and they need to know that the advice is based on facts.
So, while not creating an immense white paper, do ensure your online content includes statistics or graphs from reputable sources. Remember the online audience isn’t necessarily interested in self-diagnosing or in DIY medicine —they are also trying to deal with fear, with uncertainty, with time and money.
So, the prescription for online patient treatment should be clear, understandable and fact-based.
To sum up, virtual health interactions are growing exponentially and healthcare providers need to join the conversation. Five ways to make patient’s lives easier by joining the conversation is using telemedicine, social media, online patient reviews, as well as having mobile friendly websites and publishing quality content.