To attract customers most businesses need to: get their name out, define their product or service, articulate the differentiation, and get a good looking profile in front of their target market. Traditionally physician practices have not been subjected to the same competitive supply and demand forces that regular business owners encounter. However, over last 3 years the landscape has changed dramatically in the healthcare field. Practices that do not take digital marketing seriously will see their patient visits declining.
- Economic equation is changing: Patient costs are increasing and they now pay a significantly higher share of premiums and out-of-pocket expenses compared to the last decade. Due to this, patients are taking more responsibility for their own care and choosing providers while expecting a better experience. To attract and retain patients, we need to recognize this shift and power up our digital marketing and patient satisfaction.
- Patient demographic is changing: 44% of US population is under 30 years of age. They spend 5-6 hours a day on their devices and are overflowing with information. They have a habit of searching and collecting information before buying services. Patients within this demography need appointments as soon as possible. They express and share their experiences on internet. We need to take this behavior into account while drafting our practice digital marketing strategies.
- Competitive forces are changing: About 35% percent of practices are owned or co-owned by physicians that have become active since the year 2000. These practices are more engaged and comfortable with technology, social media, and the power of digital marketing. The remaining 60-65% are feeling the heat. These groups cannot ignore the competitive pressure anymore and should develop a digital marketing approach to be more visible to patients.
- Regulatory framework is changing: With the Affordable Care Act and push towards Value Based reimbursement, it is expected that providers will get squeezed on pricing. Medicaid and Medicare payments can be 30-40% lower than the private payers. Value-based pricing would put further pressure on payments per patient. With declining payments per patient, for practices to grow, they need to attract more patients and invest more in practice marketing.
- Technology is changing: Overall patient experience is highly driven through adoption of technology. It presents both an opportunity and a threat to practices depending upon their decision to adopt or not. Patients will leave a positive review or refer your practice to their friends if they had a good experience throughout all the interactions from making the appointment, through check-in and clinical encounter, and ending up at final billing. Click here to learn more about this
To retain existing patients and attract new patients, practices need to recognize these 5 key shifts. We must get in front of patients through digital marketing and strive to provide a greater patient experience using technologies.