The global pandemic brought some significant changes to the healthcare industry. One example is the growth in telehealth use. In 2019, only 7% of healthcare organizations used telehealth. In 2020, that number jumped sharply to 32%. The number has since leveled off a bit (26%), but it still indicates a more permanent shift in patient and provider behavior.
Telehealth isn’t the only change to healthcare during the pandemic. While these, in many cases, allowed overburdened healthcare providers to scale—the changes sometimes increased fear and uncertainty among the patient population. How can healthcare marketers help improve the perception of change and provide patients with the best possible care throughout their healthcare experience?
Here are four tips healthcare marketers can use to help improve the patient experience.
You can help influence many changes with clear, informative content (i.e., changes to procedures or office guidelines or changes to a patient’s medical situation). Communication is critical to a person’s acceptance of the change.
When the change is related to a patient’s medical status, medications, or treatments, your patients will be looking to you for reassurance. Healthcare marketers can help by enhancing their content marketing efforts to include authoritative information.
Change can also be environmental (i.e., changes in staffing, updates to the law, recommendations for new immunizations, or changes in FDA or CDC guidelines). If you know that a change (even a small one) is imminent, clearly communicate the reason for the change, what will happen as a result of the change, and places your patients can go for more information.
Offer clear, informative content on all channels—email, text, patient portal, social media, and website. The content should address:
Your website is integral to giving patients an informative and reassuring experience. A patient could use the website to:
To this end, marketers should strive to make the website:
Healthcare marketers shouldn’t limit themselves to the website or the written word when creating content and engaging with patients. They can ask themselves: What’s the best way to reach more patients with the information they need?
Many potential options exist:
What are the best ways to give patients the information they’re seeking? Would a video of the procedure on social media help? Photos of before and after physical rehabilitation on an office’s Instagram?
Marketers should aim to provide content in the form patients find easiest to digest and understand.
Healthcare providers build relationships with patients to treat them better. Relationships grow from a foundation of trust. In this case, the patient trusts the provider to help with their medical issue.
A healthcare marketer’s job is to connect patients with the answers they seek and the providers who can best help them. In large part, they’re asking these patients to trust their word. For this reason, reputation means a lot, especially in digital form.
Not only are people trusting providers with their health, but they’re entrusting their doctors and caregivers with sensitive information about themselves. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) makes it law for providers to safeguard personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information. Other countries feature similar data privacy laws, such as the GDPR in the UK and European Union.
However, providers should treat a person’s sensitive information about their lives and health with great care and respect as a part of their moral and ethical duty rather than simply because it’s the law. One slip-up can damage a person’s life and ruin a provider’s reputation (and perhaps that of the office staff).
A patient should feel comfortable that their information is safe with a provider. They should have confidence that this provider can help them.
Online reviews can build a patient’s confidence in seeing a provider. Engaging and informative content can position a provider as an authority in their field and make the patient more comfortable scheduling an appointment.
Successful marketers always put the patient first. How are they feeling? What questions do they have? What might they be anxious about?
By answering those questions across channels, marketers can communicate what patients need to know to navigate change and have a great healthcare provider experience.
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Michael McNichols is a Senior Content Manager for Oracle Digital Marketing. He has over ten years of experience in professional writing and has been widely published.