A big change for healthcare organizations and officially users in a new era of the patient experience is called consumerism. It isn’t just coming, it’s officially here. To meet your patients changing needs and expectations u need to modernize your business, if not you are already behind. Experts from Doctorpreneur Academy have shared their views on the biggest healthcare shifts you need to know for the marketing of your healthcare organisation.
Healthcare consumerism is here, and so are the disruptors.
The healthcare consumerism has been on the rise for the many years, but the covid-19 pandemic forced many businesses to meet changing needs and expectations. According to a 2020 McKinsey Global survey, nearly 900 C-level executives representing a full range of industries, company sizes, and functional specialties were “three times likelier now than before the pandemic to say that at least 80% of their customer interactions are digital.” As a result healthcare experiences as innovative and digitally advanced as other service sectors. Patients want providers and other healthcare organizations to deliver value and “patient first” care, emphasizing:
- And a seamless, easy experience.
The Disruptors: Your Competitors
Highly recognisable brand names and many new companies in healthcare have developed innovative outpatient services like urgent care centres and tele-health. Which all are giving consumers what they want before they actually recognize they want it? According to survey data released from Press Ganey, a healthcare experience leader, 66% of 1,000 respondents believed brands like these might pose a significant threat to older hospital and provider institutions. As disruptors offer comparable health care services, but in an easier, more convenient, transparent, and seamless way. The healthcare consumerism is also shaping the way organizations deliver medicines. With all this in mind, healthcare organizations must prioritize the patient experience to stay competitive.
There are many industry disruptors leading the way, how does your organization compare?
Where do you start?
How you market your healthcare organization is a good place to start. By changing the way you market your brand. But that doesn’t mean the way you “advertise” your brand.
To help you prepare for or embrace this major shift, let’s consider the five Ps of marketing through the lens of healthcare consumerism.
The five Ps of marketing are:
5 Ways Marketing has Evolved for the Patient-First Era
Let’s look at how healthcare consumerism is changing the 5 Ps of healthcare marketing:
I always emphasize that “product” is the most important P. So let’s start here.
Healthcare has always been a service industry. However, it was built upon the needs of providers and staff, rather than patients. The ‘product’ has always been the appointment and the treatment, and while they remain vital to your organizations’ success, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Thanks to online access to patient reviews and comprehensive information about specific physicians and hospitals, patients are more informed than ever before. They’re weighing options and making decisions based on the overall healthcare experience they want—and what they want is a streamlined digital experience. Have you thought about all your consumer touch points from start to finish (e.g., online or print ads, online reviews and ratings, scheduling, phone calls, emails, billing, etc.)? If not, it’s time to look at your business through the eyes of your patient and make some much-needed changes.
Today’s healthcare consumers want:
- A helpful website and local directory profiles
- Educational content on your social media and blog
- Easy, online appointment scheduling
- Accessible and responsive doctor-patient email communication
- Secure, online access to medical records
- Digital bill pay capabilities
As healthcare costs continue to rise, patients are empowered to find alternative, more affordable healthcare options offering an experience similar to other service sectors.
How can you effectively address these expectations? We understand pricing transparency includes hospitals, providers, health plans and medical manufacturers. Still, it’s essential to find and implement ways to make treatment less expensive. Price transparency tools and low-cost, flexible care options (e.g., fee-for-service ) can help ease the financial burden on your patients.
Today’s healthcare consumers want:
- Clear, transparent pricing
- Affordable options and payment plans
- Free healthcare screenings
- Discounts and offers (when appropriate)
Providing affordable treatment options, accepting several insurance plans, and offering reduced prices for simple tests and appointments can also help you attract and keep more patients.
A little attention to design goes a long way toward improving workflow and patient satisfaction at your physical location. Once your marketing and advertising pay off and new patients visit your office, you’ve got to make a great first impression.
Does your waiting room offer an inviting atmosphere? Are you using technology to streamline their check-in process? Do you provide alternative options to increase access to your providers? Today’s healthcare consumers have an unprecedented number of choices and access to tools to make informed decisions. They’ve come to expect high-quality amenities such as:
- An uncomplicated, fast digital check-in
- A clean, welcoming waiting room
- Sanitation stations
- Shorter waiting times
- Walk-in clinics
- Telehealth services
- Easy and convenient parking locations
“People” refers to your doctors and staff. Patients want to feel respected and listened to. Create a friendly and relaxed atmosphere from the moment they enter your hospital or clinic. Have knowledgeable and friendly staff members in the front desk and physicians who are personable, great listeners, empathetic to the needs of their patients.
We understand the current employment market exacerbates this issue due to massive shortages at every level. Businesses struggle to find, hire, train, and keep high-calibre employees in many sectors. However, strong relationships facilitate trust between you and your patients, allowing for more open communication and better treatment.
We are covering “promotion” last on purpose. While amateur marketers always start with promotion, marketing pros consider all the other marketing Ps after contemplating their promotional strategy. Today marketing should include branding, digital marketing, and traditional advertising.
Today the consumers use an average of three online sources when looking for a provider. Search engines were the most common source (65%), followed by insurance websites (45%) and hospital or health system sites (43%). Of these consumers, 78% used Google, 27% used WebMD, and nearly 20% used Facebook.
Now that you know where you need to promote your services, it’s time for your message to evolve as well. Today, savvy consumers prefer brand-positive messaging that draws them to your brand through long-tail nurturing campaigns that build trust over time.
Today’s advertising and content involves so much more than just good writing:
- Info graphics
- Social media posts
The Customer Journey Before & After Healthcare Consumerism
Let’s say you run a multi-location hospital chain catering to locals and patients who need your specialty care services. How has the consumer journey changed in the last ten years? Let’s take a Look at a typical consumer journey through the 5 Ps of marketing:
Before Healthcare Consumerism
Minimal to no attention to overall patient experience. Most patients scheduled services based on friend, family, or doctor referrals.
Minimal to no communication about the cost of professional services to individual patients and incomplete or inaccurate pricing information about life-saving services and procedures.
Minimal to no emphasis is placed on the aesthetics or amenities available in patient waiting rooms or exam rooms. Patient flow was designed to benefit provider efficiency. Convenience and aesthetics weren’t even considered.
Staffing front desk involved hiring educated individuals with (ideally) good phone etiquette. Staffing exam rooms and hospitals involved hiring knowledgeable, experienced physicians and specialists dedicated to treating patients.
Advertising consisted of traditional print ads, radio, TV, and billboards. Patients received push marketing messages that served as a general, one-size-fits-all advertisement.
After Healthcare Consumerism
Healthcare market disruptors are making healthcare simpler, more accessible, and transparent for everyone. As a result, healthcare providers and organizations are rethinking their business models and making sweeping changes across every consumer touch point. Here’s what they’re doing:
Optimizing the patient experience through consistent messaging, easy online scheduling, digital doctor-patient communication tools, and secure online access to medical records and bill-pay capabilities.
Offering clear, transparent pricing, affordable options, flexible payment plans, free health screenings, and special offers.
Developing aesthetically pleasing waiting rooms complete with educational materials, sanitation stations, and a streamlined digital check-in process. Meanwhile, Telehealth and urgent care locations are integral components of the patient experience.
Staffing front offices, exam rooms, and hospitals with compassionate, knowledgeable, and skilled specialists that are dedicated to enhancing the consumer experience.
Building trust and confidence through personalized nurturing campaigns that include educational materials, healthcare reminders, special offers, and brand-positive messaging.
Healthcare consumerism is not only here, it’s here to stay. It’s time to implement a patient experience that’s digitally connected, patient-centric, and focused on wellness. As healthcare costs continue to rise, more and more consumers are empowered to search for and expect greater value and quality of service, timely and convenient care, transparent information, and an excellent patient experience. Organizations must embrace these changes and meet their patient’s expectations or risk losing them to the competition.