For the fourth consecutive year, we surveyed U.S. healthcare consumers to predict their preferences, frustrations and influences throughout the digital patient experience in 2021.
In our latest on-demand webinar, Stewart Gandolf, CEO of Healthcare Success, joins Binary Fountain’s Aaron Clifford to unveil results from the 2020 Healthcare Consumer Insight & Digital Engagement survey.
Gandolf and Clifford provide insights on how patients are finding doctors online and using reviews to make care decisions, which factors matter most to healthcare consumers throughout the patient journey, where patients leave reviews, and how to generate high-quality feedback.
They offer data-driven tips and strategies that you can immediately use to improve your healthcare brand’s reputation, maximize your online presence, optimize the customer experience, and ultimately drive new patient revenue in 2021.
Here are some key takeaways from the webinar:
How a Healthcare Consumer Finds Doctors
Even with digital customer experiences on the rise, family and friends are still top sources for consumers finding a doctor. As the importance of those personal recommendations slowly declines, insurance coverage remains highly important and patients are looking more at hospital/clinic websites.
That means the investments that healthcare systems have made in their branding and websites are paying off. Not to mention, robust first-party sites and local landing pages are becoming influential factors in search rankings.
Gandolf says that, while the main sources for a healthcare consumer searching for care in 2021 are intuitive, third-party sources have grown tremendously between 2017 and 2020 and will only get more important.
“Digital natives don’t want to talk to people,” he says. “They will just do their homework and be their own decision maker.”
Though your website and Google are cornerstones for your online brand, eyeballs are on third-party sites like Facebook and Healthgrades in high numbers. “There are dozens being used,” Gandolf says, “and they all matter.”
The typical consumer reads nine reviews before choosing a doctor, making patient feedback an equally crucial part of the search process. As online directories become more important to consumers, that average has moved up, and will continue to do so. Meanwhile, the importance of online reviews to healthcare consumers has doubled since 2017.
Brand Communications and Booking Appointments in 2021
Even in the digital age, the No. 1 preferred method for receiving information from healthcare providers is a phone call. And patients have indicated they’re willing to schedule visits and elective appointments if providers call them.
But close behind it is email, which should remain a high priority. Don’t neglect text messaging in your communications, as well: Patients show high preference for texts regarding reminders and results.
Choosing between these mediums is where marketing and patient experience departments become partners, Clifford says, so that consumers get the right data at the right time. For example, you could use phone calls to reschedule cancelled appointments, emails for COVID-19 information, and texts for immunization reminders.
Healthcare consumers’ top frustrations with booking appointments revolve around missing contact information and services not being listed. These challenges with listings management became apparent in 2020’s survey data.
“People have higher expectations of healthcare than ever before,” Gandolf says. “You simply need to identify the patient experience issue and fix it.”
Where and Why Consumers Leave Reviews
Wait time was – by far – the most frustrating part of doctor visits for surveyed consumers (32%). However, that figure has improved since 2017, meaning some health systems have solved the problem by building patient experiences around consumers’ needs.
Solving the long-time, consistent frustration of wait time is an opportunity for competitive advantage. Frustrations are revealed in your online physician reviews, so it’s also a way to generate positive patient experiences that consumers want to share online.
When reviewing providers, the most important factor to patients is a friendly and caring attitude. “The soft stuff really matters to everybody,” Gandolf says. But these preferences do change between age groups, with older patients caring more about a caring attitude and younger patients caring more about a provider’s reputation in the community.
And there’s much more.
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Content Marketing Specialist