It’s true in every business — the customer is king. For healthcare practices competing with retail giants such as CVS, Walmart, and Amazon, improving patient satisfaction and cultivating patient relationships can be the keys to success.
Understanding what today’s patients want and delivering on those preferences can support your practice’s growth strategy, as happy patients find your practice and then return, year after year.
To help inform private practices, and give our customers a better sense of what’s important to their patients, PatientPop regularly conducts patient perspective surveys to gather key insights. Here’s how recent results translate into actions you can take at your practice, to help strengthen the patient relationship and grow your practice.
Optimize your web presence
When it comes to looking for and selecting a healthcare provider, most patients (74.5 percent) do their research online — so it’s important to meet them where they are.
Actions: The first step is refining and optimizing your website, for both patients and search engines. Ensure that your website is user-friendly, mobile-optimized, and up-to-date with the most relevant information for your specialty or community. That’s just the start of expanding and making the most of your web presence.
Your next step is directly related to how you look and connect with prospective patients on Google. The search engine giant continues to maintain its massive market share (a steady 88 percent). The recent Whitespark report on SEO factors recalls a famous saying from expert Mike Blumenthal, that “Google is your new home page,” in reference to how your business displays in Google search results.
By showing a variety of business information, in a variety of formats, Google has made it easier for patients to find information about your practice without ever navigating to your website. Therefore, it’s imperative that your practice claim and optimize your Google business profile, using Google My Business (GMB). When your Google business profile is optimized and answers a patient query, your practice can show up in the Google local pack, local finder, knowledge panel, or other types of search results.
Claiming all your online profiles is important, (think of WebMD, Yelp, Facebook, and others), ensuring all information is accurate, updated and engaging. Be sure to include your practice address, hours of operation, key services, and photos or videos to showcase your office and providers.
Focus on a stellar online reputation
Once a patient finds you online, you need to differentiate yourself from other care options. This is where a positive online reputation becomes paramount. Based on our 2020 survey research, 7 out of 10 patients say reviews affect their decision making.
Here, Google is once again where your efforts are best spent. Patients say they’re more likely to rely on Google reviews, (72.9 percent of patients) even more often than those found on your website. Getting patients to share their feedback online is a top priority.
Actions: To inspire this participation, consider implementing patient satisfaction surveys, which encourage your patients to start sharing their thoughts and opinions. PatientPop survey data tells us patients who have been asked for feedback are 50 percent more likely to proactively submit an online review.
Consider your total patient experience
Keeping your patients happy may sound like an obvious and simple patient retention strategy. But in a busy healthcare practice, a lot of moving parts can impact the patient experience. According to patients surveyed by PatientPop, top patient priorities include a provider who listens, a welcoming staff, and a short wait time.
Actions: While you can’t always control a patient’s wait time (be as communicative as possible with waiting patients, however), you can put tools and technologies in place to streamline areas of the patient experience. Since up to 70 percent of patients say they will consider switching providers for more convenience, adding these tools makes a great investment in patient retention.
From online scheduling and digital patient registration and intake, to automated appointment reminders and telehealth options, these simple conveniences can really add up to a better experience — and ultimately, better reviews, too.
Create a patient communication strategy
Strengthening the provider-patient connection can support your practice growth strategy. One simple tactic is to communicate with patients in ways they prefer.
Actions: While preferences can shift over time, PatientPop survey research indicates that 2 out of 3 patients prefer appointment reminders via text message. However, when patients have a question for you or your staff, many (32.4%) still prefer a phone call. This tells us that while automated communication is preferred in some instances — and certainly more efficient for your practice — patients still require human connection for more complex communications.
To take retention communication one step further, practices can implement email marketing campaigns designed to keep patients engaged, provide valuable condition-specific information, and share timely practice updates as needed. By segmenting your patient base, you can deliver targeted, relevant information and establish deeper connections that will keep patients coming back.
Find the right balance for telehealth
2020 was a year of explosive growth for telehealth, driven by COVID-19: the pandemic forced the need to deliver care in a safe, touchless environment and resulted in the near-instant response by governments to ease virtual care restrictions.
Actions: As we move into 2021, though, we know patients are more comfortable seeing their provider back in the office. That means a shift for telehealth — moving away from pandemic mode and more toward using virtual care as a long-term strategy for practice growth and patient satisfaction. Consider which appointment types would work best for virtual visits for your practice and patients. Start there, and expand or adjust over time with patient demand.
Updated patient survey data: How patients feel about healthcare visits in 2021