What do patients want from their doctors? Are you providing it?
Have you ever looked up a website to find the address or phone number of a business, only to click around in vain for several minutes before giving up and Googling for another option? Have you walked into a store for something and gotten overwhelmed by all the options and information, leaving more confused and without making a purchase? These are common experiences for many of us—including, possibly, your patients.
The most effective practice marketing efforts start with thinking like a patient. What do they need? What do they want? Are you providing it? Do they know it? These are all important questions for every practice to consider.
Start with your website
It’s no accident we began this article with the website example. The vast majority of patients (74.5 percent) do their research online when looking for a healthcare provider, according to a recent survey by PatientPop, a practice growth technology company. For younger patients, that number is even higher: 88 percent of patients under age 40 said they will choose their next healthcare provider based on the provider’s online presence, reported PatientEngagementHIT.
What do patients want from doctors online? Offerings that improve the consumer experience topped the list. Online appointment scheduling, online payment tools, online price transparency tools, and virtual care access were the most important to patients, according to PatientEngagementHIT.
Do you offer options that improve patient experience, like online appointment scheduling and bill pay or telemedicine? Is this clear on your website?
If you do offer these things, are you promoting them? Would a first-time visitor to your website be able to tell what measures your practice is taking to protect them from COVID-19 or whether you’re offering telemedicine appointments and how to schedule one? “When you make changes that address patient preferences, be aggressive about getting the word out,” wrote practice management consultant Laurie Morgan in Physicians Practice. That includes mentioning your new offerings on your website, in your newsletter, on social media, and in person in your office
Your website should also offer something for patients who may not be ready to book an appointment just yet, but are looking for more information. For example, you could share this video to explain why a comprehensive exam is necessary.
Patient education that converts
In some ways, medical practices are not like other businesses that cater to consumers. After all, many patients go to the doctor because they have to, not because they want to. You may think that by giving them what they need, you’re giving them what they want. However, we’ll use an example from eye care practices to show that is not always the case.
Presbyopia is a condition affecting millions of middle-aged people in the U.S., with symptoms that range from difficulty reading to near-vision loss. According to the Ophthalmology Times, “Although choices for near-vision correction include glasses, contact lenses, monovision corneal laser refractive surgery, corneal inlays, and IOLs, 90 percent of patients aged 40-55 years remain frustrated or irritated with presbyopia.”
Why are so many patients dissatisfied if so many treatment options are available? “In part, this is due to the fact that even though nearly two-thirds of patients with presbyopia seek help from their eye care provider, barely one-half report obtaining the information they needed,” the article states.
What is going wrong when it comes to educating patients? There are a lot of possible answers to this, and some of it depends on patient preferences and even their age and culture. Sometimes it may be a case of information overload. But often, the key is how the information was presented. Research shows that the majority of the population are visual learners who retain information better by seeing videos or pictures rather than reading or hearing it.
Presbyopia patients are frustrated with their condition and dissatisfied with patient education from their doctors—possibly because of how the information was presented.
This is why Rendia’s Outcome Simulator was created—to show patients what they can expect from certain treatment options in a more impactful way than simply telling them. Using the advanced vision simulator, you can show a patient a realistic-looking scene from their daily life, such as an office, and what it looks like with their current vision. As you explain that their near vision has naturally become blurrier with age, you can show that on the screen.
Next, you can show them what their vision could look like with various options, including refractive surgery, refractive lens exchange (RLE), or a corneal inlay. This is a more effective way of marketing to patients because you haven’t overloaded them with extraneous or irrelevant information they have to sift through and make sense of—you’ve shown them exactly how you can help them and what their vision could look like.
Help patients understand cost
Lastly, cost is certainly a factor when it comes to elective procedures or premium options. As mentioned above, patients want price transparency. Without navigating the patient’s insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs, you can still educate patients on the value of certain options. You can also inform them about ways to save on health care costs, such as buying a year’s supply of contact lenses, shopping around for their prescriptions, or using their Flexible Savings Account (FSA) and checking both their medical insurance and vision insurance.
Giving patients what they really want requires a variety of tools and techniques. The best place to start is by thinking like a patient.