In previous posts, we’ve discussed why patients want tech-savvy doctors, what goes into effective patient education materials, and what patients from different generations want from their health care providers.
But when it comes to specific, practical, even measurable goals for your practice’s health care content, how do you go about finding out what patients want and giving it to them? Here’s a look at how you can better target your content to your audience and find out if it’s getting results.
On social media
Social media humanizes doctors, allowing you to be an actual person rather than just a faceless practice. Doctors who are active on social media say it’s because that’s where their patients are and that’s what patients want. A recent survey found that 41 percent of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility. Savvy health care providers are becoming part of the online conversation and keeping up with their patients by using social media to enhance their practice’s visibility and to provide high-quality health information online.
Using link-shorteners in your URLs on social media (like bit.ly and ow.ly) is a good way to track how many people are clicking on your links, and which types of content get the most clicks. With videos, you can track how many times your content has been viewed. And be sure to monitor your shares and mentions on Twitter and Facebook to see which content is getting the most response.
While Facebook and Twitter are great for conversations and sharing links, patients also want content that is lasting and searchable, like blog posts and videos on your website.
On your website
In a previous post, we looked at several reasons why patients are dissatisfied with providers’ websites. To help patients find your site and give them what they are looking for, consider the following:
- Is your site easy to navigate? Is it written in language easily understood by people of varying literacy levels? It should be.
- Type of content. If you don’t provide timely, frequently updated content — such as a blog and video — your site may be buried under search results for competing practices that do.
- Actionable steps. Are you providing informative, engaging content on your site? Are you giving patients something to do, watch, or download — like ability to schedule an appointment, watch a patient education video, or download a health app? Patients want that.
To get an even better idea of what patients want from your practice’s website, set up Google Analytics. It offers valuable data on where your website visitors are coming from (e.g. Google searches, links from other sites), what pages they’re visiting, and for how long. It will also tell you what key words are bringing people to your site. This is good to know so you can create or promote related content. This blog post discusses how to use Google Analytics to identify the most popular pages on your website, and how to optimize those pages to convert visitors into newsletter subscribers, for example.
On your patient portal
While only a small number of doctors currently use patient portals — secure websites that give patients 24-hour access to their personal health information and patient education materials — that’s likely to change very soon, thanks to government EHR incentives.
But even Mayo Clinic struggled to get patients to use their portal when they introduced it several years ago. Mayo discovered that they needed to give patients what they actually want, including:
- Convenience. Patients want to be able to interact with the portal when and how they want — no clunky interfaces, no complicated login processes.
- Customization. A patient wants a relevant, individualized experience and information, not to feel like a number.
- Higher quality content. The basic, low-quality content found on most patient portals doesn’t cut it. Patients want robust, visual patient education materials.
Improving your content offerings
Other ways to find out what patients want from you and your content include patient surveys and online reviews. While it may be hard to swallow negative reviews, some doctors have been able to use them to take constructive steps to improve their practices. For instance, if a patient complains that you spend too much time on your computer in the exam room, that tells you that you may be better off spending the visit talking with patients face to face, and afterwards send them links to online educational content they can access on their own time.
Internet-based patient education programs can help you improve your content offerings on social media, on your website or patient portal, and in your waiting room and exam room – giving patients what they want, and saving you time in the process. To find out more, contact us today.