Estimated lifetime patient value is high
Patients of all ages are turning to the internet to research their health conditions and check their symptoms. And when they need care, patients also are researching specific healthcare providers and facilities. According to a MARS Consumer Health Study, about three-quarters of Americans report going online to research health and wellness information, while more than one-third report using the internet to research a specific diagnosis, condition or set of symptoms.
Communications platforms that support calling, texting and social media provide a convenient way for patients and prospective patients to reach out. And since the estimated lifetime value of a new patient has been pegged at $600,000, investing in technology to improve patient communications can quickly pay for itself.
DIY includes healthcare, too
Not everyone would be comfortable changing the oil in their car or repairing drywall, but technology has enabled all types of do-it-yourself activities that people are comfortable with. Think self-checkout at the grocery store, online ordering and mobile banking.
Healthcare hasn’t escaped this phenomenon, although not all practices have embraced such DIY features for patients as online appointment booking or the ability to text the practices. But practices are ignoring these innovations at their own peril. Two-thirds of millennials and those in Generation X said in a survey that they’d consider changing health providers to ones who offered the ability to book appointments online.
Care encompasses the entire experience
Sixty percent of physician practices say they deliver quality care to patients. But what do patients think? In a study, 81 percent said they found their healthcare experience lacking in some way. Among all healthcare consumers, those who interacted with physicians most frequently reported the highest rates of dissatisfaction, pointing to a disconnect between physician and patient perceptions of the same care episode.
A survey of more than 35,000 online physician reviews showed that only 4 percent of respondents complained about a physician’s skill, diagnosis or inability to deliver quality care. The main reason for a poor review, as cited in 96 percent of cases, was poor communication and poor customer service. That’s something that all physicians can work to improve starting today — and at no or little cost.
The communication needs of younger patients can vary widely from the expectations of older patients. Millennial and Generation Z patients prefer more passive communications methods such as text and chat. Medical practices can gain efficiencies through one-to-many communications such as these as opposed to one-on-one phone conversations.
Practices should be actively researching methods to modernize their communications. The goal is a multilayered communications strategy that resonates with patients of all ages. Although younger patients are driving changes in the way practices communicate, catering to a wide demographic can help ensure a practice’s long-term financial success.
Kathy Ford is president and chief product officer of Rhinogram. A healthcare industry veteran with 25 years of experience, she has held roles in sales, marketing leadership and executive level portfolio ownership with merger and acquisition responsibilities at GE Medical Systems, McKesson Corporation, Siemens Medical Solutions, Carestream Dental and NantHealth.