Patient trends: What your practice needs to know

Patient trends are impacting medical practices at a rapid rate.

As a healthcare provider, ignoring these trends can be detrimental to your practice’s sustainability. To help you make the most of this patient-led changes, we’ve identified some key trends impacting medical practices like yours and what you can do to ensure your practice keeps growing.  

1. Digital scheduling will be the norm 

In today’s digital age, people want things done quickly and on-demand, from the convenience of their phone. Just like when we have the need for a takeaway pizza. Consumers are no longer reaching for their phones to speak to the restaurant. Instead, they are using apps like Mr Delivery and UberEats that lets them order a pizza in a few simple steps. 

Booking an appointment with a doctor should be just as fast and easy. Plus, the easier the process, the fewer hurdles there are for them delaying or even avoiding required consultations.

What you can do

Having an online appointment platform is no longer a luxury – it is an expectation. But this doesn’t mean that you need to spend thousands of rands building your own platform and optimising it for Google rankings. There are already third-party plug-ins available, like  RecoMed, that fit seamlessly into your existing practice calendar. Not only will this be convenient for your patients, but it will alleviate some of the unnecessary admin burden on your front-of-office staff.

2. Customer service is key to profitability

The reality is that patients have options and their loyalty is based on excellent customer service. You will already know that it’s easier and more cost-effective to retain a patient than it is to attract a new one.  That’s why it’s important to put your patients at the center of everything you do. 

Differentiate your practice from your competitors with five-star reviews, drive new traffic through the front door, and achieve the profitability you aim for.

What you can do:

People like to feel important and communication is key in this regard. Even after the patient has left your practice, keep the conversation going. Send SMSes to patients reminding them about flu shots, upcoming appointments or follow-up appointments. 

Don’t stop there, though. Encourage your patients to leave reviews on your social media page/s and especially on your Google My Business page. Search engines like Google love online reviews and this will help your practice get ranked even higher in searches. 

3. Having an online presence is becoming essential

Even if your practice is not online, your patients are. It may seem simple, but patients need to be able to find your practice and most people just head to Google to find what they’re looking for. If your practice can’t be found, they’ll probably end up at the practice around the corner. As a healthcare provider, you must come to grips (if you haven’t already) with the fact that digital channels influence patient decision-making and adapt accordingly. 

What you can do

Building an online presence needs to be an integral part of your practice’s growth strategy. Ask yourself, how easy is it for prospective patients to find your practice online? Having a presence on social media, Google My Business and other affiliate sites such as RecoMed and Medpages are some key ways to get noticed online. 

If you’re a beginner and don’t know where to start, here is a guide with everything you need to know to help you get your practice online quickly and easily.

4. Patients are taking control of their health 

Patients want to be more involved in their healthcare. They have access to hordes of information. They can self-diagnose via Google. They have access to self-testing kits for a number of communicable and non-communicable diseases. And they can monitor their vitals and track basic stats with wearable devices. Their curiosity is piqued, and they want to engage with your knowledge and expertise to decipher and understand this information. 

What you can do

Across the board, patients are looking for ‘health’ care as opposed to ‘sick’ care. Doctors need to be able to engage with ‘found’ information in conversations with patients. Even though the data might not be clinically relevant for diagnosis, the worst thing you can do is to dismiss the data. Instead, help patients understand why because as patients hop onto the smartwatch trend in droves, you are going to be asked to include it in the consult more and more. 

Preparing for these trends starts with asking yourself which of these trends are impacting your practice and what are the most practical ways to address them. Healthbridge has been partnering with doctors to future-proof their practices for the last 20 years. Click here to get in touch to find out how you can make patient trends work for you.

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