The changing face of healthcare marketing.
Healthcare providers think of themselves as serving patients by providing care, not selling care. But actually they are. Certainly there’s a difference between selling healthcare and selling, say, shoes. But, they have more in common than you may think.
Faced with new reimbursements models that value quality of outcomes over quantity of services, healthcare systems are actively looking to retail companies for strategies to improve customer satisfaction. We helped a client launch a new service that lets patients visit with a doctor, right from the comfort of their couch via phone or video chat for $35. It’s a prime example of the retail-like trend toward offering patients choices and convenience with anytime/anywhere care delivery, upfront price transparency and an intentionally designed consumer experience. Geisinger Health System has taken this new trend even farther by offering refunds to patients who aren't happy with their care.
“In medicine, too, we are trying to deliver a range of services to millions of people at a reasonable cost and with a consistent level of quality. Unlike the Cheesecake Factory, we haven’t figured out how.”
- Atul Gawande | Surgeon, Brigham and Women's Hospital
healthcare systems can also learn a thing or two from retail about creating a better web experience for patients.
It all starts with Google
Patients, like shoppers, head online to seek out answers to health questions, attempt to diagnose themselves and find a doctor if their symptoms–and the information found via their online search–point to the need for care from a professional. That’s why search engine optimization is mandatory.
New to SEO? Learn the basics to optimize your website.
Make the next step obvious
Once you’ve given a prospective patient the information they need, show them the next step. Just like good retail sites make it easy to add an item to a cart and check out, make it easy to sign up for a webinar on joint replacement surgery, take a tour of your birth center, watch a video of your experts talking about their philosophy of care, and–of course–make an appointment.
Realize the power of mobile devices for patient engagement
The retail industry was one of the first to launch mobile apps for customer engagement. Hospitals are starting to see value in apps, such as post-surgery apps that help patients take better care of themselves when they leave the hospital.
And with Apple’s recent launch of CareKit to enable developers to build health management apps, healthcare systems will have access to loads of data on symptoms, medications and more. In the future, analytics of this data will help clinicians and researchers better understand the effectiveness of various treatments among patients groups.
Changing from a traditional healthcare mindset to a more retail-driven approach is no small feat, but those who embrace a customer-centric frame of mind always win.