By: Jan Vincent
There is no doubt that the Internet and social media have changed how today's patients seek medical care. Technology allows contemporary patients to make enlightened healthcare decisions and, consequently, develop outstanding “shopping” abilities. For sure, tech has changed how healthcare practices acquire new patients and how patients want to be acquired. These changes continuously necessitate an adjustment in how medical professionals reach out to potential patients and how they provide patient service.
Smart touchpoints - pathways like social media that provide patients with an opportunity to proactively respond - take patient service to a new level beyond traditional one-way avenues, like print advertisements or marketing people that must first seek out the patient.
"Today’s modern patients have developed six main outstanding abilities, or 'superpowers'."
Every savvy, business-oriented medical professional knows that today's patients can tell the difference between a practice that is disingenuous, and one that is trustworthy. Today’s modern patients have developed six main outstanding abilities, or "superpowers". These superpowers make patients:
All-seeing / All-knowing
Expect that your patients will know more than you, or at least think they do. Today’s Internet technology provides massive amounts of healthcare and cost information at the click of a mouse. The ability to Google symptoms and arrive at a multitude of conclusions has made medicine look easy to the general population.
In our increasingly diverse society, it can be important for medical professionals to accommodate different cultures and languages. No doubt, you can reach out to more patients than ever before, but be careful how they might interpret and translate your outreach communications.
Patients can now scrutinize practice brands 24/7 and keep tabs on the latest doctor and office reviews, medical health records and new office innovations via notifications and applications.
A sample or pattern one patient observes can go viral quickly. Patients don’t have to be astute when they can research the latest insights and information immediately.
The patient experience is now heightened by a new level of reality the Internet adds to the equation. The real world still exists for patients, but now it resides alongside the digital world.
The modern patient world is replete with subliminal perception and subliminal persuasion. Patients are confronted everyday with physical sensors and signs, together with changes they can now sense and discover occurring across the globe.
Because patients’ lives have been inundated with social media, the smart healthcare provider must be aware of how today's super patient will react and respond. Smart touchpoints can work in your favor or against you depending on how you handle them. How can you effectively engage with today's super-powered patients?
1. BE A GAME CHANGER
Today's modern, super-powered patients know when you're trying too hard. Keep in mind that not all clever ideas are fresh and inventive, even if they appear to be on the surface. Being a game changer can have significant benefits. Your bright patient outreach campaign might impress a patient, but it might not necessarily impress them enough to visit your practice. Today’s super-powered patients look for and respect a sincere mission and a meaningful vision if they are going to put their care in your hands. Perceptive, ultra-sensitive patients will see past overly creative marketing campaigns and embellishments if there is no substance behind these touchpoints. Demonstrate to patients why they need your service, not just what makes it different.
2. DO NOT TAKE PATIENT LOYALTY FOR GRANTED
It is not unusual for patients to switch care if they sense that their devotion is not appreciated. With this in mind, your practice must be proactive and not wait to react when it might be too late. Loyalty can go just so far. Your patient might not be willing to put up with tedious steps like having to fill out endless paperwork, repeat responses over and over to each person who picks up the phone or endlessly wait on hold. They will be ready to move on to another practice if yours is still stuck in the past and not innovating fast enough. Perceptive and all-seeing / all-knowing patients probably even have lots of feedback through word-of-mouth on potential new doctors. Determine who on your staff or support system can influence your patients and use them to engage with smart touchpoints and new processes.
3. STAY INVOLVED AND INFORMED
Modern patient outreach means balance and recognizing the fine line between involvement and intrusion. Since smart touchpoints allow patients to respond, make use of that to build relationships. You can now either know your patients better than ever or annoy them better than ever. Be resourceful with both message content and form.
Healthcare practices that have clearly designed patient outreach strategies, using smart touchpoints appropriately, have been able to develop their own uniquely exceptional super powers. By tuning into your patients’ needs and desires using your exceptional abilities in company with respect for your patients’ exceptional abilities, you can concentrate on continuous practice innovation and strengthening patient loyalty.