In today’s digital world, consumers want information – and they want it fast. Statistics show the average visitor leaves a website in just 10–20 seconds, making it critical to capture a reader’s attention immediately or risk losing them to another site.
For healthcare, it isn’t just a matter of piquing consumer interest long enough to get them to read an article in full. 77% of all health inquiries begin with a search engine. Further, one in 20 searches on Google relates to health information.
With so many consumers searching on health-related topics, care providers have a right and a responsibility to provide them with accurate, precise, and timely information.
There are three core benefits of a digital communication strategy in healthcare:
1. Encourage Proactive Health
When Google and Mayo Clinic joined forces back in February, it was for a very specific reason: to present healthcare information to consumers in a better, more accurate manner.
As noted in a MedCity News article on the merger, “The change [to present healthcare information in a new way, to both traditional Internet browsers and the Google mobile app] will no doubt redefine how Americans obtain health information online. But it will also likely shake up what the average health-seeker finds on the Internet and eventually change how medical authorities present health information.”
For consumers, the change means being able to see an expanded box of information – pulled from a variety of sources across the web, verified by multiple physicians, and signed off by doctors at Mayo – alongside their Google searches.
This screenshot shows information compiled for a Google search on ear infections. Consumers see a brief description, symptoms, treatment, sources, number of cases per year, etc. This is just one example of the type of patient communication that needs to become widespread across the entire healthcare landscape.
Armed with the right kind of information, consumers become empowered patients who take a proactive approach to their health and make informed and educated decisions. Enough matching symptoms, and an individual is likely to call their primary care provider and schedule an appointment.
2. Improve Patient-Physician Relationships
A study from Imprivata and the Ponemon Institute shows American hospitals are failing to effectively bridge communication between physicians, nurses, and other providers who coordinate and deliver patient care. The research, in fact, shows hospitals waste approximately $11.2 billion a year because of inefficient communications technologies (e.g., antiquated pagers, absence of Wi-Fi and secure text messaging, etc.).
In order to engage patients across the entire care continuum (not just during the first office visit or when they are sick), it’s critical for physicians and hospitals to offer ongoing care management between patient visits.
For example, health systems can take advantage of marketing automation to send timely, relevant communication through patients’ preferred channels (whether it be email, patient portal or phone). Though the patient is between visits, marketers can keep the health system top of mind with automated, personalized outreach (such as a list of nearby flu shot locations or tips to avoid a winter cold).
Done correctly, and this engagement tactic strengthens the physician-patient relationship – even outside of the hospitals’ four walls.
3. Promote a Healthier Society
Consumer access to credible and honest healthcare information and connectivity between patients and physicians are only a piece of the puzzle.
The end game, of course, is to improve healthcare communications and promote a healthier society overall. As noted in a Medical Practice Insider article, doing so involves developing a robust communications strategy that accomplishes several different objectives:
- Streamline patient access and support
- Leverage data to identify specific challenges and solutions
- Offer patients multiple platforms for communicating with physicians and staff
The Evariant patients for life platform allows healthcare organizations to target consumers based on specific information (demographic, psychographic, social, behavioral, etc.). With this data in hand, enterprises can build, launch, and manage multi-channel communications campaigns that target specific demographics, consumers at risk, patients with specific conditions, etc. to effectively engage patients in their own care and improve health outcomes.
Above all else, effective healthcare communication is important for one very simple reason: It helps save lives. In fact, a recent study titled “The Other 45” found an extra 45 minutes of chronic disease education (in addition to a typical 15-minute office visit) was effective in improving patients’ ability to manage their chronic disease(s). So, spending a little extra time (whether it’s in the office or through digital channels) on your communication strategy can have a serious impact on long-term patient health.
In other words, if your organization hasn’t yet begun prioritizing healthcare communication strategies, the time to start is now.