COVID-19 fast-tracked much of the digital transformation that was already in progress in the healthcare industry. Patients across every generation have become accustomed to convenience. And the convenience of telehealth, virtual urgent cares, online appointment scheduling, and digital patient education is here to stay. 

Rachel Jones, SEO Strategist at Sharp HealthCare, and Craig Daly, GM of Healthcare at Podium are even calling some of the new efficiencies in healthcare a “silver lining” of the pandemic. The digital innovations that came out of 2020 are paving the way forward for patient-provider interactions now and in the future.

Learn from the top leaders in the industry as they discuss the key patient-provider interactions to perfect. Watch the full webinar here or read on for some of the highlights from the discussion. Modernizing the patient experience through specific interactions will help your healthcare organization improve operational efficiency, boost patient satisfaction rates, and help you find more patients.

What strategies can be put into place for improved patient provider communication in 2021? Here's a quick overview.

What is patient-provider communication? 

Patient-provider communication entails properly meeting the needs of your patients through the proper channels and communication platforms they are on. With so many potential patients it can be difficult to know how to properly communicate with them. What are the proper strategies to enhance your patient-provider communication for the current times? 

Show up where your patients are looking for you—Google.

As Craig Daly explains, “Google has quickly become the front door for any business,” including healthcare practices. There has been a 400% increase of search queries like “urgent care near me” or “best dentist near me.” Patients are looking for your services on Google, and there are specific strategies you need to employ to be found and chosen by prospective patients. The experts’ top five tips for early stages of patient acquisition are as follows:

1. Update your database.

Add or confirm current names, addresses, and phone numbers relative to your medical practices and locations so you can easily (and accurately) publish that to your listings on Google.

2. Localize your content. 

Unlike so many services modern consumers utilize, healthcare is dominated by location. Patients looking for your services need localized information about which clinics your physicians serve, when, and other community-specific details. Include this information on your Google listings, social media accounts, and web pages to best serve your leads.

3. Make your website purpose-driven.

Your website, of all places, should be where patients and prospects can go for the need-to-know, urgent information. Providing this important information on the markup of your website will drive qualified search queries your way from Google. 

4. Optimize your Google listings.

Include up-to-date information and, where appropriate, add high-quality photos, videos, and clear descriptions of your services. 

5. Collect and respond to reviews. 

In addition to the other information on your Google listing, search results are ranked by the frequency, quality, and quantity of your Google reviews, as well as by your responses to individual reviews. This is a crucial step to convincing prospective patients and the Google algorithm that you are the best healthcare provider in your area—90% of patients rely on reviews to evaluate a provider anyway. 

If you don’t ask for reviews, your online reputation is at the will of people (not even necessarily patients) who go out of their way to rate your practices or physicians. Unfortunately, the people who are most likely to do this are those with negative feedback. Strategizing to collect reviews from every patient (through the channels they prefer) will provide a much more accurate picture of your practice, as well as drive more patients to your website, phone number, and physical location due to an improved ranking.

Example: Within 90 days of implementing Podium’s review requests, Sharp Healthcare saw the rating and ranking of several urgent cares and physicians skyrocket with improved visibility, calls, and website visitors.

Engage with patients on social media.

88% of health consumers under the age of 40 report that they will choose their next medical provider based on a strong online presence. The average user spends nearly 2.5 hours on social media a day, possibly more while everyone’s staying at home. And while there’s so much misinformation online, social media provides an opportunity for your healthcare system to become an authoritative source of information in the community. 

But, as Rachel Jones explains, social media is more than a platform to broadcast your information; it also opens the door for a two-way conversation with your patients. This form of public engagement demonstrates just how patient-centric your practice is or isn’t. 

Communicate with HIPAA compliant messaging.

There are elements of the patient experience that simply cannot be replaced by technology. But, as Craig Daly explains, “when it comes to mundane scheduling challenges, interacting to adjust calendars, sending follow-up questions,” or collecting feedback, 9 out of 10 consumers prefer texting. 

The shift to video chat, social media messaging, and inbound texting is growing in every industry, and patients expect that convenience in healthcare as well. And you can deliver on these patient expectations while complying with the regulations of HIPAA. Directing interactions that do not involve protected health information to messaging will reduce call center volumes, time spent on hold, and frustration of patients and staff. 

Podium can help your healthcare system achieve greater visibility and improved patient-provider communications with messaging. Watch the interaction management platform in action with a free demo today. 

And don’t forget to watch the full webinar for even more info and insider tips.

Bryan Oram
Bryan Oram AVP of Healthcare Enterprise Sales

Bryan Oram is a Healthcare professional at Podium, the leading messaging platform that connects healthcare businesses with their patients.

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