By Sarah Bennight | Apr. 05, 2017

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Even if the distance is relatively short, moving from one home to another can greatly affect a family’s schedules and daily interactions. Such was the case when my family recently moved to a new neighborhood. Despite it not being more than a 15 minute drive from our previous residence, the move required us, a busy family, to spend less time doing mundane tasks such as grocery shopping. So, when we found a coupon to try the local grocery store’s online ordering app, we took advantage of it.

With the app, I could order everything my family needed, schedule a pick-up time, drive to the grocer, and they would bring our groceries out to the car. More so, I learned that over time I can add what I need and then schedule at my own convenience. After one use of the service, I was hooked. I’ve since used the service many times and while it hasn’t replaced specialty food shopping, it is now my main method of grocery shopping.

Like my experience, consumerism is shaping how others choose to interact on a daily basis. As consumers, we are constantly bombarded with ways to save money, time, and hassle. Convenience is king when it comes to attracting new, over-scheduled consumers – and it’s becoming the norm in the healthcare industry, too.

In the past, the total patient journey began within the walls of the hospital, clinic, or imaging center from the point of registration. Similarly, it could have been initiated with an inbound caller seeking an appointment for care. Today, that journey begins well before an appointment occurs or a call is made. The moment a consumer-savvy patient knows they have a need, their journey begins.

Healthcare organizations that ask the following three questions will best facilitate this journey and increase new patient acquisition.

  1. Is it easy for new consumers to find us?
    Savvy consumers who are looking for care will start with a basic online search. In fact, according to a Pew Research study, 77 percent of health seekers began their search with an engine such as Google or Yahoo. Optimize your digital marketing spend and drive more patients to your website. Use keywords and geo-targeting to grab the demographics that most need your services.
  2. Is it convenient to schedule?
    Did you know Starbucks process over processes 8 million mobile order and pay transactions per month? Why? Because it is so convenient! With online scheduling becoming the norm in all commercial industries, consumers expect the same of healthcare organizations. By 2019 it is estimated that 66 percent of all medical appointments will be scheduled online. If you aren’t offering this high demand service, you should consider how it can fit into your overall scheduling workflow. The payoff in new patients is worth the effort to modernize the scheduling process. At the very least, consider providing online estimated treatments times for urgent care centers, allowing patients who are injured or sick to rest at home until they can be seen.
  3. Do we have 24/7/365 access to accommodate busy schedules?
    Your call center shouldn’t direct a patient or caregiver to call back at another time. However, many organizations don’t answer the phone during the times most patients are available to call: before and after regular business hours, lunch breaks, etc. In addition to after-hours answering, your site should consider centralizing call support so patients have one access point and can be routed as needed. When a potential patient is frustrated, can’t find the right number, gets transferred, has a long hold time, or, even worse, has a call dropped, they may seek care elsewhere. Improving and expanding patient access will help support the growing demand of consumers who are used to interacting with companies at their own convenience.

To learn more about how consumerism affects the patient journey, download our free e-book The Road to Patient Loyalty.

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Author: Sarah Bennight

Sarah is a Marketing Strategist at Stericycle Communications Solutions aligning product marketing and content strategy for the enterprise healthcare market. With nearly 8 years of Health IT experience, she has had various roles working within product development, marketing, and sales teams to drive greater understanding of industry regulations and trends, market positioning, and the voice of the customer.

You can follow Stericycle Communication Solutions at your favorite social media platform.