Healthcare continues to be one of the most dynamic and evolving industries in the United States. Now more than ever, people have a renewed focus on health and wellness. Patients are demanding better services along all touchpoints of the healthcare experience to improve the quality of their lives. As a result, the options for care have mushroomed, and competition is fierce in many healthcare markets. What will be the new healthcare technology trends for 2020?
How will healthcare evolve into 2020 and beyond? We break down what trends you can expect to continue in 2020, new healthcare horizons to look out for, and what you can do to capitalize on them.
1. Voice Search Has Arrived
Voice assistants, like Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Cortana, and Siri, answer more than one billion searches per month. Over the last 10 years, voice searches have grown almost 40-fold, and experts predict that half of all searches will be voice-based by 2020.
Consumers aren’t just using Alexa to buy spices while cooking. Patients are now turning to voice assistants to help them navigate the healthcare industry at all stages of the patient journey. From finding the nearest radiologist to where to fill a specialty pharmacy prescription or where the nearest walk-in clinic is located, healthcare voice searches are booming. And if you don’t prepare for it, you might end up behind the eight-ball moving forward.
Voice is about action, and patients are looking for quick answers. Moreover, voice queries are 40 times more action-oriented than regular searches.
One way you can start to capitalize on voice search is to refresh key pages and posts on your website and format them, so they appear for voice queries. When you design a page on your site for voice, lead with a commonly asked question such as:
- How do I know if I have a cold or allergies?
- When should you go to the ER with a fever?
- Is Botox effective?
- What is a cataract?
Warning: You might be tempted to write an elaborate introduction and bury the answer deeper within your content.
Don’t do it.
Bring the answer right to the top and then elaborate after that. Right now, there can only be one winner on voice search, so you have to make sure you answer the question right away. Physicians who specialize in niche topics stand to benefit the most in their search ranking.
2. Customer Service: the Crux of Patient Loyalty
Healthcare organizations now flourish or fade based on the quality of care they provide and the daily interactions between staff and patients.
Eight out of 10 patients say that customer service is the most powerful factor besides the quality of a doctor’s care in establishing their loyalty to any healthcare provider. Customer service encompasses more than the time a patient spends with the physician, and a patient’s experience continues well after they’ve left the examination room.
The end-to-end patient experience comprises an array of touchpoints and interplays between the patient and medical practice or hospital. Every staff member is potentially a customer service representative—–whose daily activities should focus on enhancing the quality of patient care. This is as true for front-line receptionists as it is for those who work in the billing department.
When you instill a customer-service mindset throughout your organization, you’ll differentiate your practice from your competitors, improve online reviews, fill empty appointment slots, and achieve the profitability you desire.
3. Employee Engagement is the New Marketing
The patient experience is not only the most critical driver of success for your healthcare organization, but it is also directly related to employee engagement.
The numbers don’t lie: when you improve employee engagement, patient satisfaction increases. And health systems that provide a “superior” patient experience attain roughly 50% higher net margins than those organizations that deliver just “average” customer service.
Enhancing your employees’ experience at the office will result in:
- Higher patient satisfaction
- Increased staff efficiency
- Less employee turnover
- Higher profit margins
Your staff needs to understand their critical role in delivering outstanding customer service and exemplify it. And that can only happen by investing in employee engagement and training.
Bottom line: Medical marketing in 2020 is now a team sport and extends beyond the quality of a doctor’s medical care. The interaction a patient has with every staff member affects their overall perceived experience at the practice. Developing a marketing strategy that focuses on engaged and inspired employees will place your brand at the top of patients’ radar screens and keep them committed, invested, and loyal.
4. The Mega-Empowered Healthcare Consumer
Patients today are more empowered than ever and have numerous healthcare options. Healthcare is in the midst of a radical shift toward “patient consumerism” and the “retailization” of the industry, as patients increasingly demand a retail-like experience when searching for and obtaining medical services.
To thrive in 2020 and beyond, health systems and medical practices must outdo their competition by meeting patient needs and surpassing patient expectations along the entire patient journey. That journey includes:
- Initial physician search
- Ease of appointment scheduling
- Patient experience on-site (comfortable and safe atmosphere, caring staff, professionalism and confidence)
- Quality medical care
- Transparency and ease of billing
- Follow up
The relationship between a patient and medical practice can be one of the longest-standing business (and personal) relationships in a person’s lifetime. Healthcare organizations that develop and nurture this relationship will ultimately be poised to drive success well into the future.