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How The Internet Impacts The Hospital Patient Journey

How the Internet Impacts the Hospital Patient Journey

People use the internet to search for all kinds of products and services, and hospitals are no exception.

According to a Google study, The Digital Journey to Wellness, prospective patients are now active participants in making decisions regarding their health — and the internet is one channel on which they heavily rely.

The study, conducted in concert with Compete, Inc., a third-party research vendor, surveyed more than 500 hospital researchers to understand what influences hospital selection and what role the internet plays in the hospital patient journey.

Here’s what Google and Compete found:

  • Eighty-four percent of patients use both online and offline sources for hospital research (Online includes search engines, hospital websites and health information sites. Offline resources include the doctor, family and friends and traditional media, such as TV, radio and newspapers.);
Hospital patient journey research

Image source: Google Study – The Digital Journey to Wellness

  • Search drives nearly three times as many visitors to hospital sites compared to non-search visitors;
  • At 83 percent, hospital websites ranked number one for consumer research;
  • Forty-four percent of patients who research hospitals on a mobile device scheduled an appointment.

Other statistics include:

  • Seventy-seven percent of patients used search before booking an appointment;
  • Forty-eight percent took more than two weeks to research before booking;
  • Sixty-one percent visited two or more hospital sites before converting.

As a hospital executive, none of this should come as a surprise. You already understand the internet has far-reaching influence on patients’ decision-making about healthcare.

What you may not have figured out, however, is how to leverage the inestimable power of the internet to drive patient volume, mainly to select clinical service lines.

That’s where we come in. Bizzuka helps hospital executives combine the patient journey with digital marketing techniques to boost bottom-line results.

What Prospective Patients Search For

If we accept as fact that prospective patients and their families are using the internet to research hospitals, it’s smart to understand the types of information they are looking for.

According to the Google/Compete study, prospective patients focus on symptoms and conditions early in their journey; later, the search becomes more branded (i.e., hospital branded terms).

Hospital patient journey starts with focus on symptoms then to branded search.

Image source: Google Study – The Digital Journey to Wellness

Prospective patients also want to know that hospitals live up to their claims. They ask questions like:

  • What is the reputation of the facility?
  • Does my doctor recommend this hospital?
  • Do my friends and family recommend it?
  • Do patient testimonials exist supporting the hospital’s services?

That’s not all they’re interested in, either. Prospective patients want to know about service lines related to their condition.

  • How does hospital A’s service line compare to hospital B’s?
  • Does the hospital use the latest technologies?
  • What do patients who have used the service line have to say?

It Starts with the Patient Journey

Just as in retail, prospective patients follow a particular path, from awareness they have a problem to solve to researching solutions to honing in on the best or most viable option.

Unlike retail, it’s not a direct path to a quick sale, however. Given all that rides on their decision, healthcare consumers often take considerable time in the research process and rely on a variety of resources, including both online and offline channels, as previously mentioned.

That’s why it’s essential to have a presence in as many different places online as possible, to ensure patients and their families can find your hospital, learn about the service lines you offer and convert from prospect to patient status. Your ubiquitous presence sends a strong signal that you are the facility with which to do business.

3-Phase Patient Journey Growth Process

Catching a prospective hospital patient early in their journey, at the point where they recognize they have a need, and then nurturing the relationship, deftly leading them to make a decision that favors your facility over the competition is critical to your success.

At Bizzuka, we use a simple, proven three-phase process that involves intensive research, strategy development focused on conversion and use of digital marketing to drive traffic and conversions.

Research

The research phase involves three steps: We analyze your hospital’s competitors, gain an in-depth understanding of your patient and his/her journey in evaluating healthcare options and then take the results to craft a unique positioning statement that sets you apart from the competition.

Strategy

Once the research is complete, we devise an aligned strategy designed to increase patient volume to select clinical service lines. Only then do we choose a set of tactics and only those that support the strategic goals and objectives we set forth.

The overall goal is to send more qualified traffic to your hospital website and convert those visitors into patients, not just traffic for traffic’s sake.

Marketing

The last phase involves the ongoing use of digital marketing to drive conversion activity. Often, that takes the form of content marketing combined with paid advertising. Our experience has shown that such a combination results in the highest conversion rates.

We track all meaningful metrics and adjust tactics as necessary to continue increasing the percentage of conversions.

Conclusion

It’s a myth to believe that the only reason patients choose one hospital over another is based on physician referrals alone. The advent of the internet means that patients and their families can now be proactive in making informed healthcare decisions, particularly as it pertains to the choice of hospital.

If, as a hospital administrator, you want more patients to choose your facility rather than a competitor (especially for your select clinical service lines), contact Bizzuka to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can put this unique 3-phase process into action for you.


 

We prepared an eBook to show you the exact steps you can take to successfully move beyond physician referrals and drive more patients to your most profitable service lines.

Download a copy of the eBook: Beyond Physician Referrals: 3 Steps to Grow Select Clinical Service Lines in 90 Days.

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