Tech-Savvy Patients: New Ways in Which They're Trying to Reach Your Medical Practice
Recent technological advancements and the widespread adoption of the internet have transformed the face of the healthcare industry. Because of them, ailments that were initially deemed life-threatening are now curable; surgical procedures are now less evasive, and self-help devices have helped cultivate a more health-conscious society. Additionally, they have not only empowered patients to self-diagnose conditions, and research new treatments, but have also provided them with new ways of shopping around for doctors of all kinds.
In this post, we'll focus on the new ways tech-savvy patients use to reach out to medical practices. But first, a brief overview of the methods patients used to find healthcare providers prior to the internet gaining prominence.
How Patients Found Healthcare Providers Before the Internet
Not too long ago, patients searching for a healthcare provider relied heavily on word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family. Alternatively, they might have selected a medical practitioner affiliated with their healthcare plan and hoped all went well. They could also let their "fingers do the walking" by going through the Yellow Pages to find a doctor. Even though they hoped to wind up with a qualified, caring healthcare provider, most of them hardly looked at the provider's credentials or patient satisfaction ratings.
How Modern Patients Try to Reach Out to Your Practice Today
Unlike some years back, the modern patient actively participates in their healthcare and relies on the internet and various technologies to attain various healthcare needs, among them being finding medical practices. Today, the modern patient has numerous avenues of researching and finding their preferred healthcare providers. Here is a list of the most widely used options:
Even though patients will physically meet their doctors in the long run, their hunt for the right physician usually begins on the internet. In fact, according to a Pew Study, 77% of patients begin their journey to your office by searching through the internet. A different survey found out that 63% of patients would choose one provider over another if they had a greater online presence.
However simple it may seem, it is crucial that patients find you online when they look for you, lest they move to your competitor around the corner. Your goal as a healthcare provider should be to rank high on search engines so that you can appear in the search results wherever patients are looking. This means that your medical practice's website should be optimized for Google—which boasts 87.91% of the US market share. You should also rank high in other search engines. Beyond just having fully optimized websites, you should create online profiles in health and local business directories, given that patients may be searching for providers in numerous locations.
Online Patient Reviews
Modern patients trust unbiased reviews and opinions from other patients when trying to find a healthcare practitioner. Recent research shows that 77% of consumers use online reviews as the first parameter when trying to find a doctor—whether on the healthcare provider's website, public websites such as Healthgrades and Google My Business, or sites facilitated by health plans for their members.
Among the things that patients focus on when reviewing your practice include:
The quality of your services
How helpful your staff is
The ease of making appointments
Overall cleanliness and condition of your practice
Given the weight that patient reviews carry, healthcare providers must monitor and promptly respond to any negative reviews. Remember, negative reviews can cost you a lot of customers.
Social media has gained traction as one of the go-to ways for patients when searching for medical practices. As of July 2021, approximately 4.48 billion people use social media to chat with friends and families, advertise various products, among other reasons.
Given how popular the various social media platforms are, the modern patient, particularly millennial patients, solicits practice input through social media. Sites like Twitter and Facebook provide platforms where friends and families share their experiences with various medical practices and make recommendations.
That said, medical practices should be active on various social media platforms and actively engage with patients through direct messaging and comments to find out how best to serve them.
Online patient communities provide patients and their close kin with an unlimited opportunity to learn various things about various medical practices. This includes information such as the quality of services healthcare providers offer and the types of treatments they have. Patients can also find an opportunity to connect with other people with similar diseases, and even go further to recommend a practice that offers the best medical care for that particular disease.
The recent technological advancements and the transformations in the healthcare industry have led to an increased rate of internet visits by patients. Today, several adult Americans with access to the internet go online to seek medical information—and online patient communities are one of those places they visit.
Healthcare and Business Directory Listings
Another avenue where patients go to when they are trying to find your practice is the healthcare and business directory listings. Here, they find information pertinent to your practice that they can use to decide whether or not to seek your medical services.
Local listings in healthcare and business directories are free advertising avenues for healthcare providers. By claiming and optimizing listings, healthcare providers will drive people to their websites and help improve their search engine rankings. That said, your practice should have health and business directory listings to improve your chances of attracting more customers.
Embracing the Digital Age
Patients have changed the ways they find and select healthcare providers. Thanks to technological advancements, patients no longer have to rely on gut instinct and guesswork to find a healthcare practitioner anymore.
Social media, online patient communities, healthcare and business directory listings, search engines, and online patient reviews make it easier for patients to make informed decisions when selecting a medical practitioner. For practices that have a strong online presence, this is excellent news. However, if not, then you need to build one fast.
DearDoc can help you towards this end. We offer a wide range of solutions that will optimize your online presence and enhance patient engagement. Reach out to DearDoc for assistance in reaching your patients online.