In so many ways, 2020 has profoundly transformed how patients view and interact with healthcare. Perhaps most noticeably, COVID-19 has made patients more aware of public health and disease mitigation policies. Unfortunately, layers of misinformation and a growing mistrust of institutions undercuts the sense of shared knowledge and wisdom that we might otherwise expect.
In part due to this diminishing trust in institutions, patients have begun expecting greater transparency and better communication from healthcare organizations of all types. As a result, success for providers in 2021 will often mean correctly identifying what patients are expecting–and knowing how to build trust throughout communities.
By focusing on the following six areas, healthcare providers can meaningfully demonstrate their commitment to their patients and find success in 2021.
1. Patient Experience
The term “patient experience” refers to everything that happens during a patient’s interaction with a healthcare provider, from browsing your website to opening a bill. Patient experience is markedly different from patient satisfaction, which measures only whether a patient’s expectations were met. Patient experience tends to be a broader barometer, attempting to gauge how a patient views the totality of their experiences.
Unsurprisingly, patients have begun flexing the consumer powers they possess to demand better overall experiences. As a result, providers have focused on delivering a positive experience for patients. In 2021, this might include adding a human touch to all digital interactions (including telemedicine), which have increased significantly due to COVID-19.
2. Digital Health Technologies
COVID-19 rapidly accelerated the trend toward digital health interactions, and now the vast majority of patients seem to prefer virtual interactions in at least some instances. Patients still place an emphasis on communication and still want to be listened to, they just prefer that conversations take place over email or text message.
In the same way, many patients will opt for telemedicine appointments rather than in-person visits. According to the Global Web Index, 70% of patients believe that technology will play a major role in their healthcare moving forward.
Patients, therefore, are looking for providers who make using that technology easier. That means now is a great time for healthcare institutions to perform a complete web and technology audit, to ensure their digital presence is mobile-friendly, easy to use, and meeting patient expectations.
According to the Consumer Index report by Ernst & Young, roughly 26% of all consumers prioritize patronizing products they trust to be safe and minimize risks. As patients exert more consumer-like power in the healthcare ecosystem, it’s natural that they maintain similar expectations with providers. And there’s no doubt that COVID-19 has heightened patients’ focus on safety transparency.
Building a reputation for safety requires transparency, so patients will look for providers who are open and communicative regarding how they prioritize the health and safety of staff and patients across a variety of situations, from COVID mitigation to opioid prescriptions. It’s also essential for providers to align their behaviors with their brand values–and to communicate often about how you are doing that.
A company that is transparent has established its own set of ground rules and values–and holds to them in a fashion that is accountable and candid.
A healthcare company that is transparent about health and safety is easier to trust–and there are few things more important to patients than trust. If patients feel they cannot trust your facility, staff, and providers, they simply will not come in.
That’s why healthcare organizations must make sure that their brand has a trustworthy reputation both in-person and online. According to PEW research, 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information in the past year. That gives providers an excellent opportunity to become a trusted authority online–especially when there’s so much misinformation floating around.
As trustworthy healthcare content is in high demand, providers can build a solid reputation online by creating reliable, high quality resources. By curating those resources over time, you can safeguard your reputation for trust from erosion and deterioration.
5. Corporate Responsibility
Trusting information is one thing. But patients also want to trust your motivations. And when that happens, healthcare brands can enjoy significantly stronger success.
Broadly speaking, consumers are drawn to brands that align with their personal moral values and their own identities. That’s usually true for patients as well. As a result, patients are most often drawn to healthcare providers who show themselves to be responsible partners. What this looks like may be a little different for every healthcare organization, but what patients really want to see are providers making significant and positive contributions to the community–both globally and locally.
Patients expect healthcare organizations to engage earnestly with their communities. Demonstrating a sense of corporate responsibility, then, becomes essential to meeting patient expectations in 2021.
From social justice to vaccine distribution, equality and equity have become focal points of conversation and policy in a way that’s been rare throughout history. What’s become clear over the past year is that equality may be important to your patients–and they may prefer to visit providers who share that value. As a result, healthcare brands should ensure that their long term marketing goals align with the values of their patients.
At the very least, providers should make sure that all of their branding and marketing accurately represents the patients they serve–including images, stock photography, and content.
Looking Forward to 2021
Patient expectations are changing. Yes, patient expectations are always evolving in some way. But it’s important not to dismiss the substantial impact 2020 had on patients and their priorities. Tackling these six patient priorities can help you meet patients where they are and lead to a prosperous 2021.
Want to know more about how your healthcare organization can get ready for 2021? Contact PatientX today to schedule a call!
About the Author:
At her core, Becky, Chief Marketing Officer of PatientX, is a creative, but there’s much more to her than meets the eye. She was formally trained as an artist with an emphasis in graphic design, but her curiosity and passion for learning have had a great influence on her career. Becky claims working in design and marketing has been like an encyclopedia to the world, because she’s learned many things she wouldn’t have picked up elsewhere. She has found her greatest enjoyment in learning about people and ideas, fostering relationships with clients, and creating meaningfully designed campaigns. Thanks to her depth of experience and mastery of design and strategy, PatientX is transforming healthcare by using marketing to improve the patient experience.