“We make it easy.” Those are the four magic words your potential patients want to hear. Yes, consumers are eager to catch up on care they had been putting off due to the pandemic. But now that restaurants, in-person barbeques and travel are back, many (way more tantalizing) activities are vying for their time.
So let consumers know how convenient it is to take care of their health needs. Then they’ll have fewer reasons to put off the services they need or miss appointments.
Why Is Now the Time to Be Thinking About Healthcare Convenience?
The changing healthcare landscape is also driving the need for convenience. Offerings that are responsive to consumers’ needs and preferences can help your organization be responsive to:
- Increased competition from retail clinics with on-demand care for common health concerns
- Unintended consequences of quarantine, such as exacerbation of mental health issues and work-from-home injuries
- Realities of cost-sharing, including patients who need ongoing treatments but have trouble paying out-of-pocket costs
- Inefficiencies in standard procedures, like sitting in a waiting room and filling out paperwork, that sour the patient experience
4 Tips for Marketing Healthcare Convenience
How to start winning over more patients:
1. Remind consumers of the benefits of seeking care from an integrated health system
Retail clinics and a growing number of virtual specialty care vendors are alluring to consumers. Advantages of these vendors include:
- No appointment necessary
- Expanded hours
- Accepted insurance
But what consumers miss out on with this approach is precisely what makes integrated systems awesome: Coordinated care from trusted specialists. Maybe patients can’t get an immediate appointment with your specialists — but remind them of what they get by waiting. Across all marketing channels, highlight the expertise and advanced services you offer that are not available from retail providers:
- Highly skilled specialists
- Sophisticated imaging technology
- Providers who work together to deliver whole-person care
- Injections for stubborn pain
See it in action: The Hospital for Special Surgery uses their About Us page to showcase their integrated approach to care. But they don’t stop there: The page also includes links to their 5-star online reviews from around the web, awards they’ve won and the advanced technology their providers use. They keep convenience top of mind with a box on that page highlighting same-day appointments. The hospital also highlights same-day in-person and virtual appointments on their homepage. Potential patients may be surprised to see that offering from such a prestigious hospital.
2. Highlight services that relieve the unintended health consequences of quarantine
Marketing convenience means being responsive to consumers’ needs. And during COVID-19, many consumers’ care needs changed. They may be experiencing:
- Depression or exacerbations in people who already have it
- Anxiety about life changes or going out in public again
- Wrist, neck or back strain due to at-home workspaces that were not ergonomically correct
- Sleep issues due to new routines or not enough activity
Create content focusing on these issues including blogs, social media posts and detailed service line landing pages. This is also an excellent opportunity to explain the many ways patients can access your clinicians:
- Virtual visits with a range of specialties
- After-hours care
- Walk-in specialty clinics, if available
- Patient portal messaging
- Same-day appointments
See it in action: Wellstar Health System has dedicated webpages highlighting their convenient walk-in clinics, explaining why the clinics are more convenient and affordable than an ER Visit.
3. Help consumers with high out-of-pocket costs
High-deductible plans and other cost-sharing requirements pose a challenge for many consumers. They may avoid appointments out of concern they can’t pay the bill. And when patients delay care, they’re often sicker when they do go to the doctor. Treating more advanced illnesses can be more expensive for them than if they had gone to the doctor earlier.
How can you make healthcare convenient for patients with high out-of-pocket costs?
- Emphasize the importance and availability of preventive care and that many insurance plans cover these services in full.
- Make payment plan information available online so patients can learn about it discreetly. You may also wish to offer online access to patient financial services through a chat or message feature on your website.
- Educate consumers about how to lower their costs. For example, share that seeing a PCP typically costs less than an urgent care visit.
See it in action: Banner Health’s website includes a price estimator tool to help patients and caregivers get a handle on expected out-of-pocket costs depending on the procedure, location and type of insurance they have.
4. Use technology to improve the patient experience
No one likes filling out paper forms or sitting in a waiting room. These activities became safety issues during the throes of the pandemic. Savvy organizations turned to technology to mitigate the risk. Apps and automation software made it possible to electronically collect patient information and hold their places in line while they waited in their cars.
If your organization is using this technology, market its benefits. Can patients avoid coming in 15 minutes early because paperwork is done online? Can they bypass the waiting room and receive a text when they’re ready to be seen? These small conveniences can greatly impact patient experience scores, so why not shine a spotlight on them?
See it in action: Ochsner Health encourages patients to use their mobile app to pre-register for appointments and check-in for appointments from their car. They created a blog post that walks patients through how to download the app and set up appointment reminders.
Consumer Trends Influencing Healthcare Convenience
Thanks to Amazon and other online marketplaces, consumers get questions answered, products ordered, bills paid and more online. These brands are helping people shop around and run errands virtually, saving precious time for other activities.
Consumers want similar experiences in healthcare. Many would be happy to replace phone calls and office visits with online interactions whenever possible.
- 80% of consumers who had a recent virtual visit were satisfied with the experience and are open to future telehealth encounters .
- More than half of millennials and Gen Xers would switch providers based on the ability to book appointments online .
- 80% of consumers prefer to pay healthcare bills online .
- 56% of patients say virtual waiting rooms are more efficient than traditional waiting rooms .
If you’re not marketing convenience, your healthcare organization could be missing out. Consumers care deeply about clinical expertise and quality. But given a choice between comparable providers, the one that’s easiest to interact with is likely to get the appointment.
Marketing convenience can help your organization become consumers’ go-to option.
Read More of Our Healthcare Consumerism Insights
This post is the final installment in our 4-part series about healthcare consumerism.
Read earlier posts to learn it all:
- Consumerism in Healthcare Isn’t So Different After All
- Your Hospital and Consumerism: 5 Examples
- Marketing Like a Healthcare Consumerism Pro: 3 Tips