In today’s digital world, patients want information and they want it fast. Studies show the average visitor leaves a website in just 15 seconds, making it critical to capture their attention immediately or risk losing them to another site.
It’s even more important for healthcare providers to win over a patient’s attention. It isn’t just a matter of piquing a consumer’s interest long enough to get them to read an article in full. With 77% of all health inquiries beginning with a search engine, and one in 20 searches on Google relating to health information, health systems need to prominently position themselves to win a consumer’s attention.
With so many patients searching health-related topics, care providers have a right and a responsibility to provide accurate, precise, and timely information. Effective communication that gives patients the information they need goes a long way in improving patient engagement and building loyalty.
Building a patient communication strategy takes time and effort, but when done properly, is extremely beneficial to healthcare providers. Let’s take a look.
1. Communication Encourages Proactive Health
When Google and Mayo Clinic joined forces, 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 partnership, “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 patients, 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.
After conducting a search, consumers now 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, patients can 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. Improved Patient-Physician Relationships
According to the 2017 Consumer Health Care Priorities study, patients state the “single most important hallmark of quality care” was the patient-provider relationship. Patients want a provider who is transparent, invested in their health, and an effective communicator. Unfortunately, a separate study shows American hospitals are failing to effectively bridge communication between physicians, nurses, and other providers who coordinate and deliver patient care.
Health systems cannot only interact with patients during their first office visit, or when they are sick. In order to engage patients across the entire care continuum, it’s critical for physicians and hospitals to offer ongoing care management and engagement 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. Patient Communication Promotes 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. In order to do so, healthcare providers must develop a robust communications strategy that accomplishes several different objectives:
- Streamlines patient access and support
- Utilizes data to identify specific challenges and solutions
- Offers 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, such as demographic, psychographic, social, and behavioral insights. 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, an effective patient communication strategy is important for one very simple reason: It helps save lives. In fact, a 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). 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 patient communication strategies, the time to start is now.