ePatients Redefine Healthcare Interactions

Healthcare spending has definitely changed over the last forty years, but quite amazingly, the dollars in healthcare are still going to the same recipients at the same rate. An NPR report tallied the changes in health care wealth distribution from 1970 to 2010, citing a mere 0.4 percent increase of money given to doctors and other health professionals and only a 5.8 percent increase in funds given to hospitals.

Despite the negligible change in healthcare fund recipients, there has been a significant shift in where our healthcare dollars originate. Out of pocket spending has decreased considerably, and as of 2010, the majority of healthcare funds come from insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid.
Shift in Healthcare Dollars

Because of the Affordable Care Act, many Americans wonder what the future of healthcare in our country will hold for them and their loved ones in 2013. Can they afford treatment? Will doctors be accepting new patients? No one can predict the path the healthcare industry will take, but going forward, Americans can count on progressive technologies pushing healthcare services and capabilities to new levels of patient care.

Fluctuations in reimbursement rates and accountable care organizations (ACO’s) will make it vital for hospitals and physicians to attract and retain a diverse patient base. As policy and trends change, an essential piece of advice we offer to hospitals and physicians is to strategically target the e- patient as an important member of their patient mix.

E-patients are educated, enabled, engaged and empowered. They download apps to manage and track their own health habits. They refer to the web for health information about loved ones’ illnesses, physician reviews and blogs written by people with similar diagnoses. In the last year, 59 percent of US adults consulted the internet for health information. Those who use health sites to self- diagnose medical conditions, referred to as “online diagnosers,” make up over a third of US adults, according to a Pew Internet Survey.

Looking ahead, healthcare organizations must recognize that the web is becoming a hub for healthcare and treatment. Seeking out e-patients and finding out where patients are browsing on the web is critical to creating an engaging, mobile-friendly online presence. If your healthcare practice is not interactive on the web, you are missing out on the opportunity to educate, stand out to potential patients and improve office efficiency. Fostering a strong online presence allows patients an outlet for positive recommendations and feedback, and in turn, organizations have control over their brand.

If healthcare providers begin to engage e-patients on a large scale, this engagement will necessitate dynamic changes in how healthcare providers interact with all of their patients. A strong online presence can increase office efficiency, create stronger relationships between the providers and their patient base and increase accessibility to doctors and other healthcare providers. These benefits will ultimately translate to healthcare organizations providing their patients with much more streamlined and effective services, giving Americans something to look forward to in the upcoming years.

Contact us at info@thedoctorsbag.com for more information on enhancing your healthcare organization’s online presence and engaging your e-patients.

Physician Practice Marketing in the Age of Digital Media

As with traditional marketing, digital marketing also relies heavily on knowing who your target market is.   So in today’s marketing environment, who is the target patient for a physician practice?

The explosion of mobile, social networking and all the other digital forms of communications have ushered is into a world of constant connectivity that offers more selection, more information, and more options. So, how do you ensure your patients are receiving the correct healthcare information?  You access the markets and platforms where your patients are.  Today is the era of participatory health. Today is the era of the E-Patient.   Defined by Nicole Ziady as “e-patients are health consumers who use the web to find information about certain medical conditions, e-patients are starving for information.

According to A Pew Research report, 47% of adults have used the internet to get information about doctors or other health care professionals.  Additionally, 41% of adults have read someone else commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online new group or blog.  These numbers are clearly important.  Our patients are now educated, equipped, empowered and experts in their own healthcare.  Let’s face it, today is a world of “participatory health.”  Patients research their own symptoms and then report back to their physicians.

Marketing is shifting from the traditional method of promoting yourself, your services, and your products. Instead, digital marketing is becoming more about educating your patients with the correct healthcare information.  Did you know that 14% of people trust advertisements, while 78% of people trust what others say?  Why not write down the answer to that question you received 40 times today in your 7 minute patient visits?  Post it on a blog that links to your website.  Those e – patients will listen.  They will follow and they will be happy.  Positive patients = positive things said about your services = more prospective patients will listen and follow = positive return on investment.

Isn’t that what we all want?

 

 

Change

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

Change in our lifetimes is inevitable. With three children going in three different directions – I experience change everyday.  Generation Y, the generation of my children, accepts change very easily. They are multitaskers and they adapt and move on.  The baby boomer generation does not.  What about change when it comes to health care and technology?

My son sprained his wrist a few months back.  We went to see an orthopedic surgeon who had some xrays performed, Within minutes the films were sent to the physician’s ipad and we were able to view them on his screen!  What a change from 5 years ago.

I read an article the other morning that commented in the fact that less and less patients are going to see their doctors when they need to.  Rising costs in health care, lower income levels and reduced spending rates can all attribute to this change in attitude. This means lower revenues for physicians, and hospitals.

What can you do to combat these reduced dollars? Collaboration and strategy are the key words.   In order to meet the changing environment, hospitals and practices must learn to collaborate with marketing departments, combining resources when they can.  A unified approach and combined effort makes a marketing message more powerful and more concise.  Make the website the hub of your marketing efforts, and drive your patients back to your website for more information. The physician needs to be the expert.  Develop a communications strategy with someone who understands change, knows what changes will be happening in the next 12 months and can develop a plan to best drive your message to the right people in this ever changing environment.

Most importantly, embrace change and understand the benefits it can bring to you.