The healthcare industry is in the midst of a dramatic transformation: the transition to electronic health records and the far-reaching impact of the Affordable Care Act are altering the business models of providers, while technological advances are paving the way for new types of treatment and patient monitoring.
In this shifting landscape, it’s easy to forget that the healthcare world is ultimately a customer service industry.
As with any other business, consumer expectations are higher than ever.
Providers already think of individuals as not just patients but also consumers. To date, many healthcare organizations have been reluctant to explore the ever-expanding world of mobile and Web-based customer engagement options, in part because of concerns that patients might have about personal information and privacy through these channels. This is a gigantic missed opportunity—both in terms of efficiency and an improved patient experience.
A PwC Health Research Institute survey found that one-third of patients already use social media such as Facebook to get information about doctors, drug treatments and health care providers. A whopping 72 percent of respondents indicated they would like the ability to schedule appointments through social media, and half of this group would expect a response within a few hours.
So how can hospitals, private practices, and other healthcare organizations use the burgeoning realm of social media, mobile applications, and other Web-based tools to their advantage? For the most part, it simply comes down to taking existing technologies and applying them to the healthcare field in new, practical ways. Such as:
- Online scheduling for appointments
- Text message reminders to patients regarding upcoming appointments
- Social media accounts/pages to help answer general patient inquiries
- Online forums to support customer feedback and engagement
Even simple changes can propel your organization to the front of the pack in customer service, and those small improvements can mean a world of difference to your patients. There has never been a better opportunity than now to look like a forward-thinking organization with relative ease. And in the face of sky-high consumer expectations, any such changes will help you stand out to current or potential patients.
By implementing a website or mobile initiative, you are doing more than just catching up to other customer service-based organizations—you can position yourself as an industry leader.
Does your heathcare organization have a Web or mobile plan? Have you had any success with a social media initiative? Please feel free to share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you!