The Affordable Care Act seeks to reduce the number of uninsured Americans. That means new patients for your medical practice to attract and retain. Here's how.
The current problems with the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges should not deter doctors and medical practices from creating marketing strategies that focus specifically on the newly insured. These new and soon-to-be insured consumers differ in some fundamental ways from those currently covered, and these differences will be reflected in how their doctors and care providers are chosen.
The statistics are interesting and telling: According to a Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured study, 60 percent of the uninsured population is made up of childless adults and of these, 41 percent are under 35 years of age. In general, patients under 35 are notorious for their lack of loyalty to both doctors and hospitals and for their willingness to make a switch under the least provocation.
But the newly-insured- and- under-35 consumer will have additional needs and wants:
Non-Traditional Office Hours
A large number of the newly insured will be working part-time or as independent contractors, and will have less predictable work days. The easier it is for them to make (and keep) a doctor’s appointment, the better. The ability to make online appointments outside of traditional business hours will be vitally important, along with the opportunity to receive doctor-generated texts and e-mails if appointment delays are anticipated.
Perception of Value
Many of these first-time purchasers are likely to be surprised at the cost of medical insurance. Consequently, they’ll demand value and will seek out - and stick with - those who appear to provide it. Physicians should design marketing materials that heavily emphasize the latest high-tech treatments and give examples of their area(s) of expertise.
Expectation of Strong Internet Presence
Having grown up using and relying on social media for almost every type of decision making, the newly insured will put greater emphasis on information gained via Facebook and blogs than will more established patients. Having a positive, strong, and active Facebook presence can make a significant difference.
Doctors’ websites will become more important than ever. The design and feeling of the site: warm, empathetic, and filled with success stories, friendly blog posts written in a conversational style, videos of the doctors explaining their roles, and patient stories will win out over cold clinical language and confusing medical terms.
Non- Clinical Office Environments
Not used to medical environments, the newly insured will respond to waiting areas that feel modern, warm, and inviting. Extra attention should be paid to dÃ©cor, colors, and comfort. Offering free Wi-Fi will distract from wait times and mineral water will reinforce the notion of value.
Keeping all these factors in mind when devising marketing materials can only improve a doctor’s or medical practice’s chances of attracting and keeping this new consumer.
Raquel Baldelomaris founder and managing director of Quaintise, a healthcare marketing, advertising, public relations, and business development agency, with offices in Los Angeles and Scottsdale, Ariz. E-mail her here.