It’s clear that the lagging state of change in healthcare is now having it’s moment to shine. More nimble industries like retail, ecommerce, and even banking have been running at full speed for years. Healthcare is finally being brought into the limelight and experiencing necessary change. Whether it is the desire to be more proactive, have a voice in your healthcare decisions, mixed format of care consumption or simply prioritizing the overall experience healthcare is changing.
Reed Mollins, the SVP Digital Services at Press Ganey, exposes us to the data from their yearly consumer trends report along with his own experiences and hopes for healthcare at large.
The Shift from Referrals to Online Research
A primary and continually growing shift in healthcare is the information of digital research. Long gone are the days of a one directional conversation with your healthcare provider. Taking their recommendations and referrals as an edict.
According to a consumer patient trend survey, online research has surpassed referrals from doctors, friends, and family as the primary source of information for patients. This shift can be attributed to the rise of the internet as a trusted source of information and the growing influence of online reviews and ratings.
Reed highlights the importance of this shift, stating that online research has become the preferred method for patients to gather information about healthcare providers. He notes that this trend is a result of the “Amazon effect,” where consumers trust the collective wisdom of online reviews more than individual recommendations. This finding challenges the traditional notion that referrals are the most influential factor in choosing a healthcare provider.
The survey also reveals that less than 2% of patients do not engage in any online research before making a healthcare decision. This indicates that online research has become an integral part of the patient journey, and healthcare organizations need to adapt their marketing and patient experience strategies accordingly.
The Role of the Chief Experience Officer (CXO)
To navigate this changing landscape, healthcare organizations need to have a holistic approach to patient experience and marketing. Reed emphasizes the importance of the CXO role in bridging the gap between these two functions. The CXO is responsible for both improving clinical care and ensuring that patients have a positive experience throughout their healthcare journey. This role requires a deep understanding of the patient journey and the ability to leverage data and technology to deliver personalized and relevant information to patients.
Reed notes that the CXO role is relatively new in healthcare organizations, but it is becoming increasingly important as the industry shifts towards a consumer-centric model. He highlights the need for alignment between the patient experience and marketing departments, as well as a focus on data management and data-centric strategies. Healthcare organizations that have a centralized department and a joint ownership mindset are more likely to prioritize patient experience and marketing efforts.
The Power of Reputation Management
Reputation management plays a crucial role in shaping patient perceptions and influencing their decision-making process. Reed highlights the importance of reputation as the bridge between big brand and transactional value. He notes that reputation management has become a universal practice in healthcare organizations, as it is a trusted source of information for patients. The survey reveals that 85% of consumers read online reviews, and 65% consider reviews older than six months to be irrelevant. This indicates the need for healthcare organizations to have a strong online presence and ensure that their information is accurate and up to date.
Interestingly, the survey also shows that the quality and completeness of a doctor’s profile on websites and directories is now the most important ranking factor for patients. This finding challenges the traditional notion that reviews are the most influential factor in choosing a healthcare provider. Reed suggests that this shift is a result of the saturation of reviews in the healthcare industry. With most healthcare providers having enough reviews, patients are now looking for more detailed and accurate information about the doctors themselves.
The Impact of Telemedicine and Virtual Care
The rise of telemedicine and virtual care has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the survey reveals that patients still prefer in-person visits over telemedicine and urgent care visits. Reed suggests that this preference may be due to the lack of emotional connection and personal relationship in telemedicine visits. He notes that most telemedicine visits are transactional and do not allow for the development of a meaningful doctor-patient relationship.
He goes on to highlight the importance of design in telehealth experiences. He suggests that the current design of telehealth visits, which often involve random video visits for simple issues, may not be meeting patient expectations. He believes that a more comprehensive and personalized telehealth experience, where patients have consistent access to the same doctor over time, could change patient perceptions and preferences.
The Role of Brand and Provider in Healthcare Decision-Making
The survey reveals that patients still value the role of both brand and provider in their healthcare decision-making process. While brand reputation is important, patients also consider the reputation and expertise of individual doctors. He suggests that healthcare organizations need to strike a balance between building a strong brand presence and highlighting the expertise and quality of their individual providers. He emphasizes the need for healthcare organizations to actively manage their reputation and ensure that their information is accurate and complete.
To dig into this concept further read the digest article or listen to a consumer with Matt Fitzgerald, the Chief Marketing Officer of Tend. A forward thinking dental brand that strikes a perfect balance of brand activation and provider retention.
The Future of Healthcare
There is no doubt technology is bringing on change with healthcare. Whether that change is for technology sake or true adoption is yet to be seen. There is no doubting the continual shift of digital research being part of every healthcare decision. Learn more about consumer research trends at press ganey.