Patients have more choices than ever before when it comes to shopping around for healthcare. With patient acquisition and retention impacting revenue of healthcare systems and providers, does your health system have a strategy in place for engaging patients online and influencing their decision making?
We recently conducted a survey of patients who had gone online to find a physician, hospital, or other healthcare provider in the past 12 months to learn how they search for and make decisions about which health system to choose. When asked where patients learn the address of their healthcare provider, only 26.4%* cited the physician’s or hospital’s own website. The majority (52.1%)* learned the address from a search engine or mapping app, with an additional 17.3%* coming from directory and reviews websites.
With many health systems solely focused on their branded websites, it’s no wonder then that 48%* of healthcare listings contain basic address errors. This critical piece of information can make the difference between a patient making it to surgery on time or becoming lost in a time of urgent need. Location data has to come directly from the provider, regardless of whether it’s on their own website or that of a third party.
Just as health systems can’t list only their facilities at the expense of their physicians, they can’t focus only on their branded site. Providers must maintain listings everywhere they appear, including search engines, mapping apps, and directory sites.
One of the main reasons for the popularity of physician directories is likely the presence of reviews. Across the board, survey respondents reported reviews as an important part of their decision-making process. Just as reviews have become one of the biggest influencers of consumer decisions to purchase products online, or visit a restaurant, the same is true for patients searching for providers.
When asked about how important online reviews were when making their decision about which provider to choose, more than half* of respondents said that reviews were either “important” or “very important” to their decision, and 77.3%* said that they were at least “somewhat important.”
Remarkably, when asked the same question about the importance of the location of a healthcare provider in making a decision, survey respondents gave nearly the same answer.
Every healthcare provider knows that the location of their facility or practice matters. Reviews deserve the same attention. Providers cannot afford to ignore the important role that reviews play in patient decisions. Physicians and facilities have to be listed accurately on review sites, and the information must be complete and current. While the drivers of reviews, positive or negative, cannot be controlled by maintaining listings alone, the cost of not being listed is too significant to be ignored.
Download our report, “Preventative Care: Maintaining Doctor and Facility Listings Online” and ensure patients find you as they search in the moments that matter most.
*Source: Yext, “Patient Journey Survey 2016.” Aug 17 2016