Healthcare is one of the only businesses left in today’s society where most transactions take place offline. Despite the existence of telemedicine, the majority of patients still visit real doctors’ offices for their medical requirement. A recent study contends that healthcare practitioners should have a strong online presence, even if many doctors would gain new patients as a consequence of joining health networks or through recommendations from other doctors.
Although patients will eventually visit their doctor in person, they frequently begin their search for the best physician online. In a poll of more than 1,700 American individuals, it was shown that four out of five (80%) had searched online for healthcare-related information in the previous year.
Additionally, according to the study, which was commissioned by Doctors.com, three out of every five respondents (63%) will select one provider over another as a result of a good online presence (i.e. availability of relevant, accurate and compelling information).
This does not just apply to patients who are younger. Even elderly customers commonly research possible healthcare providers online in the age where everyone has a little tablet in their pocket (a smartphone). More than 75% of respondents aged 60 and older who participated in the Doctors.com poll said they had searched online for healthcare-related information in the previous year.
What’s more, the findings imply that older customers are more impacted by what they see online. Nine out of ten (90%) individuals in the 60+ age group stated that they would select a different doctor after reading unfavorable internet reviews.
Strong Internet Presence
The statistics demonstrate that even doctors who depend on referrals must have a strong internet presence, as one of the researchers pointed out. Patients may start their search for a healthcare provider based on a referral, but for many customers, the internet reputation they find for that physician will be the decisive factor.
“We’ve reached a fully consumerist era of healthcare if 81 percent of people examine reviews about a physician even after being recommended to them. More than ever, patients rely on online information sources and use all of the digital tools at their disposal to educate themselves and make healthcare decisions “said Doctor.com CEO Andrei Zimiles.
“Healthcare firms must prioritize providing high-quality treatment while also establishing a strong online presence and a positive consumer experience. Patients of today anticipate it.
Doctors may make use of this information in a variety of ways to improve the website for their practice. Make it simple for new visitors to locate patient testimonies and evaluations, first. Keep in mind that there are entire websites devoted to providing consumers with a platform to express their frustrations with businesses.
Making customers search Google for reviews might therefore expose them to negative information. Consumers won’t need to search if testimonial postings and videos are simple to locate from the main website, and if they do, the evaluations on the site will probably show up prominently in the search results.
Some of the online features that customers demand from healthcare provider websites were also disclosed by the Doctors.com study. For instance, over 50% of survey participants (45%) indicated they prefer to make appointment requests online (i.e. online scheduling via a website, app, or email). It seems obvious that a doctor’s website would benefit from having an online scheduling feature.
Similar to this, customer support inquiries should be handled by healthcare websites. This may be done via a live chat window, a Facebook Messenger chat window, or another channel. In the long run, the practice benefits from doing everything it takes to provide patients with a positive customer service experience.
Customer service was cited by 82% of respondents to a Doctors.com poll as having the greatest impact on their commitment to a provider, supposing they are receiving high-quality care.
Although physicians rely on in-person encounters to offer treatments and develop relationships with their patients, they also need to have a strong online presence to draw in new patients and deliver the kind of customer care that customers have come to demand.