Consumerism in healthcare isn’t a new concept. It’s a pervasive topic of studies and articles in the healthcare industry, but putting it into practice in your healthcare system may feel overwhelming and daunting. While completely overhauling your consumer experience and employing extensive User-Centered Design is an option, there are practical steps you can take toward introducing consumerism into your digital mix.

Before we go any further, let’s ensure we all speak the same language. When discussing healthcare consumers, we are excluding emergencies where we trust the emergency responders and healthcare providers to be the experts that they are. In nearly every other situation, consumerism means the ability to evaluate care options, be empowered to make decisions, and ultimately control one's care. 

Once patients seek care, they become consumers who evaluate the care received, their providers, and their outcomes. The expectation is to trust healthcare professionals to manage the experience and deliver.

Before they walk through the door, they have to find you and decide to engage. This is where digital marketing comes into play in a big way. According to the Press Ganey Consumer Experience Trends in Healthcare study, “Patients rely on digital resources 2.2x more than provider referrals when choosing a healthcare provider.” 

With all the effort (hopefully) put into SEO and content marketing, ensuring potential consumers can find the services they need and book an appointment must be the top priority. However, once we break down consumerism to that level of granularity, a few key improvements become clear.

Feature Care Providers and a Path to Schedule an Appointment Whenever Possible

The provider should be front and center for conditions and treatments where a personal, trusting relationship is paramount. Too often, though, healthcare systems separate patient education, news, and similar content from the providers that deliver that care. Showing a provider’s name and face along with that appointment availability can help and offers a personal path forward for consumers. Consumers are looking for care options from providers that they can trust, so you should offer one of your expert healthcare providers as an option whenever you can. aha! understands the challenges in managing provider information across complex digital ecosystems. In fact, we feel so strongly about it that it’s our first product. If you are a Sitecore user, you can read more about our Sitecore Provider Data Connector which allows you to place providers from your directory throughout your site. 

Treat Every Page as the Beginning of a Path to Purchase

In eCommerce, the purchase funnel is central to online marketing strategies. Once you have the consumer's attention, you focus on getting them to buy whatever you’re selling. Whether it’s a luxury automobile or a t-shirt, the focus is on moving them to purchase. If you have the consumer’s attention, ensure there is a path forward to educate them or convince them of your expertise. 

If it’s not a provider and the ability to schedule an appointment with them, then continuing to engage them and convince them that you are the right choice is vital. Your content becomes critical in this situation, and while we have more on the role of content syndication on your site, the point should be clear; the onus is on you to make the case. 

Remove any Friction in the Consumer Experience

Ultimately, when we think about consumerism in healthcare and how it applies to your digital experiences, the goal is to remove anything that causes frustration for the consumer and prevents them from converting and receiving care from your outstanding healthcare providers and system.

While there’s much more you can do to improve the consumer experience in healthcare, we hope these options can give you some focus and a place to start. Then, when you’re ready, we’d be happy to show you how you can do even more.