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Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s become clear that patients want real-time access to their personal health information and easy, virtual communication with medical professionals.

Specifically, limited access to medical facilities has led individuals to take control of their health and well-being, using digital sources for medical information, like WebMD, MayoClinic, and EverydayHealth. 

According to PwC Health Research Institute, “79% of consumers with employer-based insurance said they were open to chatting online through the health system’s website; 76% said they were willing to use a doctor or health system’s mobile app.” 

This is an encouraging trend because it demonstrates patients’ willingness to adopt new technologies. For medical practitioners who are willing to try new ways to find a retain patients, this new landscape offers plenty of opportunity. 

Here are some of the digital-first healthcare marketing trends that providers can use to grow their practices, reach their goals, and help more people than ever. 

Moving Away From Traditional Marketing

From a business perspective, one of the significant impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a shift in patient behavior towards the digital. 

Now, patients expect to access medical professionals and services through mobile apps and web platforms.

Before the internet era, traditional marketing approaches, such as newspaper ads, billboards, television commercials, and word of mouth, were the primary way physicians marketed to patients. These formats are still useful to attract some segments of the population, particularly elderly patients over 75 years old.

However, even seniors of the “Boomer” generation (58 to 74 years) are embracing digital formats in increasing numbers. Younger generations have fully embraced digital technologies and want to conduct most of their activities online. 

This widespread adoption of technology allows healthcare professionals to leverage digital marketing strategies for patient acquisition. 

1. Patient Journey Mapping

Innovations in technology have made it more efficient to monitor the patient journey from the moment they notice symptoms through diagnosis, treatment, post-care, and rehabilitation. A Patient Journey Map is a method of tracking a patient’s experiences with their healthcare provider. Patient Journey Mapping is beneficial for medical service providers because it allows them to analyze the patient experience, their satisfaction with their treatment outcomes, how they rate their engagement with those services, and how likely they would be to use those services again. 

CoCoPay helps improve patient satisfaction and the patient journey in three meaningful ways:

  1. Patients are empowered to afford their medical bills via the crowdfunding method.
  2. Contributions from family and friends turn into worthwhile gifts that can change a person’s life for the better.
  3. The provider offers an innovative payment solution that relieves the stress of financial burden on the patient.

The results of the Patient Journey Map are most often displayed visually in a series of stages, including: 

  • Awareness: when the patient first notices their medical concern and begins investigating their symptoms on their own or via a medical practitioner;
  • Formal diagnosis: when the patient is assessed by their doctor, oftentimes through a series of tests or examinations, and a conclusion is made about their condition;
  • Medical treatment: when the doctor prescribes specific remedies for the patient’s condition;
  • Post-treatment care: the period immediately after treatment when the patient’s condition has been stabilized; and 
  • Rehabilitation: the period after treatment when the patient follows medical advice in their recovery.

A Patient Journey Map isn’t merely a diagram of the steps in a patient’s medical history, however. A practical, high-quality journey map will assess the patient’s experience in real time throughout their journey—while identifying opportunities for your medical practice to improve. Healthcare providers can analyze the data gathered from their patient base to identify trends in the services they provide and the services their patients need. This information can improve service delivery to patients and also help your clinic’s bottom line by catering your services more to what your local clientele are seeking. 

2. Finding Trusted Healthcare Providers

Finding information about local health practitioners online can pose a significant challenge for patients. A Google search of doctors in their area, for instance, may bring up hundreds of results. This makes it difficult for patients to decide which doctor to trust with their health. 

The patient journey can also be complicated by the lack of information about local medical providers, including their services, fee structures, insurance acceptance, success ratings, and client testimonials. 

The patient-provider connection is the most important part of patient acquisition—prospective patients need to feel you are trustworthy before they ever step through your clinic doors. That’s why many doctors and healthcare providers are now creating their own medical marketing solutions. Not only does this let them avoid unethical healthcare marketing. It also lets them speak directly with current and prospective clients, creating a personal relationship long before they step in your clinic doors.

3. Rising Costs of Healthcare

Despite the short-term impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the overall cost of healthcare services, medical costs have been steadily increasing since 2019, with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) projecting healthcare spending to increase at an average rate of 5.4% through 2028. PwC Health Research Institute estimates that medical costs will trend downwards to 6.5% in 2022 from 7% in 2021. 

Some of the factors contributing to increased medical costs include, but are not limited to:

  • Lack of medical system integration: Integrating medical systems and services results in individuals receiving the medical care they need when they need it—and for a reasonable cost. Unfortunately, the medical system in North America isn’t fully integrated and more services are becoming privatized. This lack of integration results in duplicate testing, expensive redundant diagnostics, and patients paying out of pocket for potentially unnecessary treatments. 
  • Supply chain bottlenecks: Medical practices are full of healthcare supplies manufactured and distributed by companies worldwide. This reliance on goods from global suppliers results in medical goods being in transit (via ship, rail, air, or land freight) for several weeks or months, changing transportation methods several times along the way. The pandemic has greatly impacted supply chains in all industries, but the medical nature of Covid-19 has placed a strain on medical supply stockpiles and the overall supply chain. 80% of hospital and health systems are experiencing supply shortages and difficulty finding vendors. 
    • Expensive innovative technology: With major innovations in the medical industry and advanced technology facilitating more efficient and accurate diagnostics and treatment, the costs for healthcare providers and their patients are increasing. The reliance on expensive technologies can make some forms of treatment out of reach for patients, particularly those without supplemental insurance plans. In the first half of 2021, 10% of adults under 65 were uninsured.
  • Market concentration: Consolidation of healthcare services has decreased market competition among individual medical providers. Where this would normally result in lower prices, these mergers have resulted in a monopolization of the medical market and allowed for conglomerates to overinflate the costs of services. According to the American Journal of Managed Care, hospitals in competitive markets offer procedures at a much lower rate than hospitals in concentrated markets.

A changing healthcare landscape

Healthcare is a difficult topic for more people than ever. For many, it’s difficult to even find trustworthy physicians, let alone afford the care they need. 

That’s why it’s so important for providers to embrace the possibilities of digital healthcare marketing. By reaching patients on the virtual platforms they’re used to, we can bring medicine into the 21st century. It’s not just about growing our practices — it’s about creating a better patient experience and improving outcomes. 

Daryl Hatton

Author Daryl Hatton

CEO at ConnectionPoint: CoCoPay, FundRazr, Crowdfundr

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