The proliferation of smartphones has empowered prospective patients to find the care they need the moment they need it, and has given them an unprecedented level of autonomy in their search for care. These changes in consumer behavior have ultimately upped the stakes for healthcare marketers.
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. We have found that the internet continues to be a major force in patient decisions — especially in the research phase.
Overwhelmingly, patients search for individual providers (e.g. doctors, dentists) over hospitals or other healthcare facilities. In fact, 76.3%* of individuals reported going online to find an individual provider, versus only 29.9%* that searched for a facility. This is an important wake-up call for hospitals and health systems. While listing facilities online is a great starting point, failing to list physicians and other individual providers will cause you to miss out on three out of four potential patients.
We also discovered that more than half* of all patients choose healthcare providers based on ￼information found outside of ￼the provider's website. This means prospective patients are using search engines and other healthcare directory and review sites to search for and choose providers.
The use of these resources is a reflection of the online patient journey. When a patient recognizes that they need medical attention, their first destination is often a search engine. This then leads them to a hospital or physician's office website, which they then follow by consulting a reviews site for a third- party opinion. For health systems like yours, only one of these resources — your own website — exists totally under your control. But that doesn't mean that providers have no control when it comes to search engines or physician review sites. By creating and claiming listings on third-party sites and updating them as information changes, providers can turn these channels into extensions of their brand with the added reach that comes from a centralized information resource.
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