Ready to become partners in their own health, more and more people are now turning to the Internet to make their health decisions. They leverage online processes, health portals, social media channels, review websites and physician web pages like never before to manage their own health. This new phenomenon has brought new challenges for healthcare professionals.
Why digital patient satisfaction has taken a center stage
The ACA has put patients at the center of healthcare services. The resulting patient-centric approach is evolving and now the patient’s well-being along with high-quality healthcare services have become the defining factors for treatment and operational policies. A patient-centric healthcare approach in this digital era means a revised definition of quality. The new generation of quality measurements in healthcare requires a different mind-set and a different “toolbox” to handle the hurdles. Patients shell out a hefty amount from their pocket and want nothing less than the best healthcare services.
According to a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, about 52 million Americans used the Internet to find information about diseases, medical treatment and the availability of clinical trials. These exponentially increasing numbers clearly demonstrate that patients have taken to the Internet to exert much more control over their own healthcare than ever before.
These patients are digitally empowered healthcare consumers who have many other options to choose from if they aren’t satisfied with the quality of care and healthcare services provided to them. And what’s more is that they take to the Internet and social media platforms to express their dissatisfaction or resentment. Their reviews and ratings are read and analyzed by many others, who may reconsider booking an appointment after looking at someone else’s bad experience. It’s imperative for providers to ensure that they communicate frequently and proactively with digital patients so that they are satisfied with the online responses and provide them an assurance for resolution of their complaints.
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Digital now dominates in healthcare, as well
Patient-centric healthcare is largely dependent on advanced digital technologies. Americans are “always on” the Internet, whether on laptops, smartphones or tablets. The Internet, therefore, connects patients, healthcare providers and payers with access to the tools that can help rationalize a healthcare system that is based on the patient-centric approach. Easily accessible, scientifically correct and accurate information empowers patients to become better-educated about their diseases/conditions, learn about the correct ways to improve their overall health, find the best practitioners and factor costs into their decision-making. Healthcare providers can have access into patient mind-sets through various Internet and social media platforms. This can help them make informed decisions that are tailored to patient needs. Furthermore, direct interactions also help gauge patient mind-set and gain feedback from patients on the services.
What can physicians do to connect better with patients so that they feel valued and positive about providers’ practices? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes three key attributes that can help maximize social media benefits to the public and can be beneficial for providers to connect with people online:
- Personalization — Tailoring of content to individual needs
- Presentation — Making timely and relevant content accessible in multiple formats and contexts
- Participation — Including partners and the public who contribute content in meaningful ways
Ensuring digital patient satisfaction has undoubtedly become an important step in succeeding in the ever-changing and competitive healthcare landscape. Moving forward, healthcare professionals who will embrace an effective patient communication strategy into their operations and marketing activities definitely have an edge over others in the industry and will be better-positioned to meet the needs of today’s “digitally empowered” consumers.