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Internet Marketing and Healthcare's Digital Decision Makers

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Arrow map drawn on conference table with people sitting around it discussingThe profound influence of the Internet in American society is drawing healthcare marketing away from traditional communications channels. Online search and social media are the starting points for most patient health journeys, and they are major influences in the selection of doctors and hospitals.

Nobody has proclaimed that “traditional media is dead,” and that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. But in fairly undeniable terms, patients and prospective patients turn first to Internet information. More than at any time in the past, influence and authority for reaching important audience groups has moved online.

For hospitals and medical practices, online marketing plays an indispensible role in reaching and attracting healthcare’s digital decision makers.

A typical digital presence is more than a single website. To be found online, hospitals and medical practices need to have marketing visibility in one or more websites, an authoritative blog, perhaps a branded YouTube Channel, as well as being seen via social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others.

Numbers you probably know…

  • Nearly 90 percent of US adults use the Internet [PEW Research]
  • Over 70 percent of Internet users look online for health information [PEW Research]
  • Almost 80 percent of health information searches begin at a search engine [PEW Research]
  • Nearly 80 percent of patients use online search before setting an appointment [Google]
  • Over 80 percent of patients booked appointments after online hospital research [Google]
  • About 50 percent of patients search for a specific condition or disease [Google]

Smartphones and small screens…

  • Over 90 percent of adults keep their smartphones within arm’s reach [Morgan Stanley]
  • About one in five patients book appointments via computer or mobile device [Google]
  • One-third of patients researching health information on smartphones watch videos [Google]
  • Over 40 percent of people who researched hospitals on a mobile site scheduled an appointment

2015 Healthcare Consumer Trends…

So here’s the big picture: Americans are nearly always connected, frequently by way of an ever-present smartphone or mobile device. And, with an anywhere-anytime research capability, health, healthcare, hospitals and doctors are one of the most frequently searched categories.

A comprehensive report about consumer trends by Nation Research Corporation, presents an even more expansive view about patients and digital decision makers in healthcare today. You just might find this to be an eye-opening profile:

“Consumers are always online, and the vast majority rely on ratings and reviews for decisions both small and large.

“Digital sources of information often mark the first stop for healthcare consumers seeking everything from a physician recommendation to quality and outcomes information.

“Consumers are prepared to reward transparent healthcare providers with not only their business but their advocacy—recommending providers to family, friends, neighbors, and anyone with an Internet connection.”

Decision-ready consumers view doctor ratings…

Consumers data for selecting healthcare provider infographic

National Research Corporation

“Consumers seek transparency across industries but especially in the opaque world of healthcare,” the National Research Corporation study concludes.

“They are most willing to reward a healthcare provider who shares authentic, trustworthy information on their performance. Consumers of all ages and incomes value the easy-to-access information provided by digital means, but it’s the growing swath of forty-somethings and affluent consumer households who most are willing to reward transparent providers with their business and their loyalty.

“The transformation of healthcare will be led by a paper-to-pixel, digital transition of information that leaves no refuge for poor performance.”

This White Paper, titled: 2015 Healthcare Consumer Trends: Emergence of Ratings, Reviews and the Digital Decision Maker, is available from the National Research Corporation.

And for related reading, see:Why Online Marketing is More People-Intensive Than Ever and Why There’s No Second Place in Online Healthcare Marketing.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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