Digital Experience Key to Patient Acquisition

The digital patient experience and online provider reviews continue to see a growing role in both acquiring and retaining patients, according to Press Ganey’s 2021 Consumer Experience Trends in Healthcare.

The report includes key drivers behind current healthcare consumer behaviors based on a survey of over 1,000 adult patients. Several themes emerged from the responses, each highlighting the fact that healthcare consumerism is on the rise, and here to stay.

Digital drives choice. Patients utilize digital resources 2.2x more than provider referrals

when choosing a healthcare provider.

  • Ratings and reviews are the top influence on a consumer’s decision to book an appointment, followed by referrals from a current doctor.
  • The average patient looks at 5.5 online reviews before selecting a new provider.
  • 61% report that poor-quality reviews would discourage them from choosing a provider.

Search engines are just the start. While search engines are the most used online resource during care-seeking (65%), consumers use an average of 2.7 different sites for research.

  • Since 2019, there has been a 54% increase in the usage of healthcare review sites (e.g. Healthgrades and Vitals). 
  • By contrast, there’s been a 23% decline in the search engine use over the same period.
  • 47% of patients search for the type of doctor they’re looking for and “near me,” while only 16% search for their condition or treatment needed

Customer service is the new bedside manner. Patients rate “customer service” (71%) and “communication” (63%) as more important than “bedside manner” when it comes to a five-star experience.  

The Takeaway

The above trends indicate a steady convergence between healthcare and retail behavior. Consumers use similar criteria to book a hotel or dinner reservation as they do to find a doctor, and they’re growing accustomed to using online reviews to share and research the experience.

While the need to have a “digital mindset” is getting to the point of being a healthcare platitude, the Press Ganey report does a great job emphasizing the fact that a digital strategy involves not only the online patient experience, but also the cultivation of a good online reputation.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team