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The world of consumer healthcare is currently experiencing a vital shift.

Just like in retail, automotive, hospitality, financial services, and nearly every business sector and industry, the old fee-for-service and fix-what’s-broken approach is no longer enough. Healthcare consumers want more options, greater convenience, fairer prices, and better interactions throughout the entire patient experience, across the continuum of care.

The gap between patient expectations and provider perceptions

Unfortunately, not all healthcare providers are able to respond to these needs and expectations. If your organization doesn’t want to get left behind, you have to close the gap.

What patients think: 81 percent of healthcare consumers are dissatisfied with their patient experience.

What providers think: 63 percent of providers believe they deliver high-quality patient experience to consumers.

What patients think: In terms of factors that influence patient satisfaction levels, healthcare consumers care more about customer service and bedside manner than level of medical skill.

What providers think: On the list of top issues confronting the healthcare C-suite, patient satisfaction does not make the top five.

What patients think: 68 percent of healthcare consumers turn to online reviews, social media, and health research sites to find a new doctor, make a decision about hospitals, and read information about quality of care.

What providers think: Only 5 percent of providers identify as digital-first organizations. 43 percent admit to lacking digital marketing capability because of unsuitable organizational structure.

Majority of providers don’t know how to manage online reputation

One operational aspect that healthcare providers can focus on is online reputation management. After all, a strong online reputation fuels patient retention and patient satisfaction.

What patients think

A survey by Doctor.com found that a positive online presence and reputation emerged as the top factor affecting patient loyalty.

Moreover:

  • 80 percent of patients use the Internet to make a healthcare-related search. 63 percent will choose one provider over another because of a strong online presence. And 60 percent will choose one provider over another based on a positive online reputation.
  • 81 percent of patients read online reviews, and 60 percent choose a provider over another because of positive online reviews. 90 percent, meanwhile, will change their mind about a referral if they see poor or negative online reviews, defined as those with ratings of three stars (out of 5) or less.

What providers are doing

Another recently released report describes how providers currently manage their online reputation, what types of risks are preventing them from building a strong reputation, what kind of impact failing to address online reviews has, and what resources and tools organizations can use moving forward.

Here are some of the most interesting findings from the healthcare report:

  • Approximately 80 percent of providers agree that a strong online reputation is extremely or very important. Majority (55 percent), however, don’t know how to positively impact or manage their own reputation.
  • A staggering 88 percent of providers have at least some level of concern about negative online reviews posted by patients. But only 18.4 percent have a process in place for responding to negative reviews and following up with patients who write these reviews. And 1 in 4 do not even respond at all to negative feedback given by patients in their reviews.

“Patients depend on online sources of information more so than ever, and are using all of the digital tools available to inform themselves and make healthcare decisions,” said Doctor.com CEO Andrei Zimiles in a statement.

“While it is paramount for healthcare organizations to provide quality care, they must also focus on building a strong online presence and a seamless customer journey. It’s what today’s patients expect.”

Adopting a patient-centric approach and building a stronger reputation

To respond to consumer expectations, build a strong online reputation, and drive growth, providers must adopt a customer-centric approach aimed at expanding the ways in which care is delivered.

Truly understand consumers. Winners and losers will be determined by their ability to achieve a more complete and accurate view of the customer, as well as manage high-impact trends and issues affecting the patient experience.

Before influencing consumer behavior, providers must first understand it: from initial contact, through the process of engagement, to post-transactional interactions and long-term relationships, with special attention to patient feedback as voiced in online reviews.

Optimize the patient experience. As the clout of healthcare consumers grows, so do their options. To encourage preference and inspire loyalty, providers must foster trust-based relationships with customers, promptly respond to online reviews and patient feedback, and consistently deliver experiences that captivate and go beyond achieving better health outcomes.

Invest in digital. The use of top technology and data can help providers improve patient access, boost patient acquisition, manage feedback, and enhance brand reputation. In an industry ripe for disruption, technology can also transform entire organizations (not just marketing departments) and exert bottom line impact through reduced costs, increased operational efficiencies, and improved processes.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

Discussion

  1. Ila B. Kimbler

    Patients with positive experiences spend more than those with poor experiences. Customer service is the leading factor impacting patients’ trust, and even slightly above-average service leads to higher sales growth. The research justifies the adage: Satisfied customers lead to more sales.
    The exceptional service that leads to long-term profitability begins with well-trained employees. Training your staff members on customer service etiquette can play an important role in establishing a baseline of skills.
    Patient experience has always been a big aspiration for medical facilities. In the past, practices might have got away with ignoring patient experience, but now its impact on profitability and the bottom line is becoming more prominent.

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