Consumer behaviors have been changing for a while now and it is widely accepted that customers want businesses to meet them where they are at. This means mobile shopping, on-demand services, and data processing. How does this translate to healthcare? Healthcare practices must think of themselves as competing with an Amazon-like experience because pretty soon, they will be. So how can you prepare? Here are a few steps.
1. Mobile-first, instant information, and friction-free
Mobile-First: According to Google, the majority of searches start on mobile and over 75% of smartphone users turn to search as their first method to address their immediate needs. What does this mean? People search on their smartphone for whatever they need at the exact moment that they need it. For healthcare, this means that people are searching on Google for healthcare clinics near them that are open and have doctors that can address their problems. Make sure your site looks good and loads fast (less than 3 seconds) on mobile.
Instant Information: Now, how do these consumers make a decision about where to go? Well, over 80% of people are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites helped them easily find their answers. If your website does not list who the doctors are, what conditions are treated, what insurances are accepted, and what the office hours are, then consumers are not going to purchase healthcare from you.
Friction-Free: Finally, imagine you are a consumer seeking a doctor to fix your ailment. You search "best ENT near me" on your smartphone. You then land on a website that works nicely on mobile, says that your insurance is accepted, and the doctor has a friendly picture and they treat your illness. Now, you need to make an appointment. However, the only way to make an appointment is by calling. Consumers today prefer to make purchasing decisions without calling. Over 60% of adults from all generations prefer to chat with a business through a chat app rather than call or email. So instead, you leave that practice's page and find another practice where you can book online, or give up on the search altogether. In addition to preferring chat over calls, people also prefer to schedule their appointments online. This is good for you too as practices can save valuable front-office staff time by not having to handle all of the scheduling calls.
2. Virtual Care Options
Telemedicine is here and it is time to adopt this newest healthcare delivery technology. In 2019, CMS is also making it easier to get reimbursed for various virtual visits. Telemedicine is not limited to video calls though and can include mobile check-ins, push notifications, remote monitoring, preventive services, and records reviews. This does not mean that it has to be the only way to provide healthcare or even the main option. Conducting routine follow-ups through virtual care could be a boon for your practice. Patient retention is higher at practices that offer virtual care. Virtual visits also take significantly less time for both the provider and the patient. Check with your EHR vendor to see what their telehealth options are and learn more about how you can implement it at your practice.
3. Data, data, data
The next few years in healthcare will be defined by the exponential increase in data points for doctors to review. This data could be coming from genetics testing sites, smartwatches or other wearable devices, at-home testing kits, and even from smart beds that inform people about their sleep patterns. This is in addition to the data being traded between providers already. Consumers are holding onto more and more health data points about themselves and they are expecting their doctors to diagnose them based on this data. So how do you possibly handle this much data? Doctors cannot review every data point, especially when records from other practices are being faxed as paper copies. It is time to adopt a solution that can read all these data points for you and conduct analytics to help you sort through the noise. This is a big upcoming problem for healthcare providers and won't be solved right away. The first step to take is to stop processing medical records by hand and by fax. Use software that can process and analyze medical records instantly and give you meaningful results so you can make informed decisions. This will save administrative staff time on processing records and help you make more informed decisions by being able to easily see all the relevant data.
Every year is an opportunity to iterate and improve your business. Take the opportunity to try new things and test what works and what doesn't. With the big tech companies getting into healthcare, it is important to realize that the status quo is changing and that you need to innovate to keep up. Don't get left behind so that you can keep providing excellent healthcare.