Patients are choosing their medical providers in new ways.
In the healthcare community, we refer to this phenomenon as the “empowered” patient. Through the Internet including social media, online reviews, and peer-to-peer web sites, patients are now researching healthcare options and providers.
So how do patients, empowered with this technology and information, choose a provider? The answers might surprise you.
A referral from their general practitioner or a friend is still an important way people find a medical professional. However, there are two changes to keep in mind: 1) even with referrals many patients go online and examine the provider’s website, reviews, videos and social media, and 2) providers must help with the referral process.
Self-Research is Now the Norm
When a patient receives a referral, they very often research the provider. This means that medical professional should have a good website. An effective website does not need to be fancy, but should be up-to-date, informative and easy to navigate, and contain at least one video (best located on the first page).
People are relying more on photos and videos to absorb information, because they are quicker and easier than text. Also, video helps a patient assess non-tangible factors such as whether they will like the provider and would feel comfortable with them. Studies show that patients are much more likely to call after watching a video.
Understanding Online Reviews
Providers should also be paying attention to what is said about them online. There are actually over 70 online reviews sites that specialize in or include doctors. The most well known are Healthgrades and Vitals, but believe it or not, Yelp is also a big review site, particularly for dentists, and is among the most trusted.
Only about 1 in 12 patients asked will actually provide a review when asked by the provider, which is why Truventis implemented an online platform that prompts patient with an e-mail and sends the review to sites where it will have the most visibility.
Referrals from other providers should also not be left to chance. You can help your colleagues by providing them updated information about the practice on regular basis. In addition, giving providers business cards is very helpful as well. You might consider appointing someone in the office to take on this role.
Role of Social Media
Beyond referrals, there also is a significant rise in the use of social media, particularly Facebook. Patients may look at your page and follow it before calling the office. This is why it is so important to have an up-to-date Facebook page with good content that reflects well on your practice.
Along with Facebook, blogs continue to be important. In fact, blogs are still one of the leading ways someone searching online lands on your website. You can position your practice as a leading authority with great content on the blog, as well as, help prospective patients feel more comfortable about you and your staff.
Mobile Usage Rising Exponentially
Finally, it’s important to remember that patients are increasingly using mobile devices to access information online. In fact, studies show about 48% of online activity is mobile accessed, and that number is rising. That means your website, videos, Facebook posts, e-mail updates, and more should all be mobile-friendly.
Patients today have become healthcare consumers, and much like other services, they’ve come to expect that information that can be accesses from anywhere at anytime. By having a good website, Facebook presence, and videos available for patients to review at their leisure, you will be well on your way.