Recently, I’ve read several articles where the term “consumerism” is taking the place of “patient engagement.” This switch in terminology may be signs of a new way of thinking about healthcare consumers and to delivering a more consumer-centric experience. To successfully deliver a consumer-centric experience, your online presence needs to be where consumers can go to learn, engage, and easily transact their healthcare. Here are some tips on delivering a meaningful online experience.
Spread knowledge – Your website should educate consumers. According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of U.S. adult Internet users say they have looked online for health information in the past year. The statistic illustrates the need for you to make your website the go-to source for health information.
Build Trust – Promote departmental information and detailed physician biographies on your website. Consider having your physicians write their own content about their areas of expertise. Include links to other reputable website resources as this, coupled with keyword-rich content, will help with SEO.
Use Plain English – Be clear about what patients can expect during common tests or procedures. Information that is easy to understand will help manage expectations and ease anxieties, resulting in a more positive patient experience.
Provide multiple formats – Include downloadable documents for patients who prefer printing before reading information. Also include multi-media formats such as short videos and podcasts for those who prefer watching or listening to advice.
Increase Convenience – Launch a Web or mobile app that allows patients to make and check-in for appointments, make payments, or advises them of the wait time at clinics.
Encourage Participation – Ask existing patients to rate your service on third-party sites. This will increase the visibility of your brand and possibly help boost your search engine ranking. Remember, you can’t control what patients say, so be prepared to take the good with the bad.
Manage Your Social Media Presence – Know the etiquette and protocol of each of your social media sites. Provide training for your representatives and have a written social media policy. Be sure to promote your social media presence on your website and other relevant on- and off-line communications.
Today’s informed healthcare consumer seeks a broader range of online services and interactions, often using their Web experience as a criterion for evaluating the entire institution. The patient experience is the brand experience – and it starts with your website.