For some it may hard to believe, but more than half the patients who access healthcare - and millennials in particular - use some form of technology in their decision-making process. Whether it's a wearable device or friendly advice, some form of technology will soon be used by all patients to both assess and access services. Any medical provider, whether a small practice or a hospital conglomerate, cannot afford to be behind in adopting and monitoring their presence, reputation, and administration on the internet.
The web is a big world, now full of information that was once accessible only to specialized people. That means patients can compare prices for procedures and other services. Transparency is no longer optional, even aside from legal measures. If you want to attract and keep patients, you’ll need to offer competitive fees.
Most prevalent is the use of sites like WebMD and Wikipedia to better understand symptoms and conditions. In fact, only 20% of the population in the United States do not use online medical resources. Of course, this begs the question: how reliable are these resources? In fact, they’re quite reliable but patients, without the skills to properly diagnose and treat conditions, may risk mistakes. Encourage your patients to ask questions in person and caution them against the do-it-yourself approach.
If you’re looking to build a practice, you must understand the weight of online reviews. Review sites and Facebook have made the impressions of others as important as the impression you broadcast through marketing and advertising. From Millennials to Baby-boomers, 45% say they will use online reviews to make medical provider decisions. Think about that. Half of your potential patients will be actively looking for an objective opinion about your practice, from front desk to surgical skill. If you haven’t been monitoring the scuttlebutt, now is the time to start.
Almost 20% of smartphone users report using one or more health-related apps on a regular basis. And that’s just phones. Wearable health-monitoring devises are a growing trend and interfaces with physicians are rising. Even a small practice can develop its own app to get in on the action: convenience alone will keep patients coming back. “Telehealth,” as it’s called, is also attractive to patients across the board. Some statistics: 74% of patients between 18 and 34 report the desire to communicate health issues to their doctors through devices. That number drops predictably in older populations, but not as much as you may think. According to a Harris Poll, the numbers thin out only 4 percentage points to 70%. If you haven’t pursued telehealth, now is the time to implement.
New media isn't as new as it once was but there's still time to catch up with the confluence of new media and healthcare.
- Educate your patients and encourage them to come to you for diagnosis and treatment.
- If you haven't been managing your online presence, now is the time to start paying attention. Google your practice and see what you find. Then individually address each aspect until you reflect the image you want to portray.
- Implement the technology that helps you operate your practice efficiently and effectively.