The last quarter of 2018 is here, and it’s the ideal time to look at what trended during the year in the healthcare marketing world. Those looking forward to a successful marketing year in 2019 can adopt or tailor their strategies to build on those trends, while keeping an eye out for new ones on the horizon.
More Intuitive Patient Portals
Many healthcare practices launched patient portals a decade or so ago, when that technology was the newest big thing in the industry. But during the intervening years, they didn’t make them more user-friendly or easier to navigate. Because of that, most patients have not taken advantage of the portals. But as a study published by the NCBI confirmed, they still like the concept of patient portals and want to use them – despite the lack of early adoption.
That is why in 2018, improvement of portal platform technology was a major focus of healthcare marketers. In addition to standard features like access to medical records, portals started offering more advanced but user-friendly features. Those include such things as online appointment scheduling, payment estimate calculators, and telehealth delivery.
Making the patient experience more agreeable has been an overriding commitment among healthcare marketers in 2018. Leading healthcare providers such as Johns Hopkins Hospital utilize a process known as “design thinking” to improve the patient experience. Design thinking is essentially a more holistic and sensitive way to provide excellent customer service.
This approach will directly engage the patient and/or their caregivers and family members, to proactively ascertain which aspects of the healthcare experience matter most to the patient. That can be done before the patient even enters the healthcare facility. The result is a more satisfactory overall experience. If a complaint should arise, knowing the patient’s preference ahead of time facilitates a faster, more effective and empathic solution.
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Implementation of Mobile Technology
Patients in 2018 also expected healthcare providers to offer the same level of prompt, seamless convenience they encounter in other areas of their consumer lives. They are used to experiences like centralized shopping, communication, and financial management via smartphones and other mobile devices. Nearly eight out of 10 patients pay bills online, for instance. So 2018 was a pivotal year for healthcare practices catching up with other consumer markets to offer similar secure, flexible, mobile options.
Tech companies have also met that challenge, with newer turnkey solutions that meet the stringent regulatory, privacy, and security requirements of the medical industry. More healthcare marketers are also utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) on their websites. That’s evident by a significant increase in the use of easy-to-implement AI tools like chat bots. Those can offer instant answers to frequently asked or researched patient questions, without burdening staff who otherwise must answer potentially distracting emails and phone calls.
The Common Thread
One thing that all of the biggest trends share in common is an increased emphasis on patient-oriented solutions that enhance customer service. Giving customers what they want is an old-fashioned concept. But it can be achieved more easily, affordably, and efficiently by leveraging today’s sophisticated, future-forward digital technology.