By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
We might be singing to the choir here, but you’ll definitely like the chorus anyway.
Most hospitals and physician providers recognize the importance of Internet marketing. (Better than eight out of 10 patients use both online and offline sources for health research before making an appointment.) But what you may not appreciate is that a hospital’s “digital front door” might be bigger (and more important) than you realize.
But when it comes to hospital selection, the majority of patients (61 percent) visited two or more hospital sites before converting and making an appointment. The voice of authority for these numbers is no less than search giant Google, and their comprehensive research project: The Digital Journey to Wellness: Hospital Selection. [GOOGLE THINK INSIGHTS RESEARCH STUDY]
Traditional channels that feed into hospital admissions include referring physicians and surgeons, insurance lists, and the facility’s own Emergency Department. Although these continue to be a significant part of the mix, the process is not as “automatic” as it once was.
To nobody’s surprise, the Google study revealed that the prospective patient is a growing factor in physician and hospital selection.
Perhaps what is surprising is the size of the digital pathway. People research and shop online for just about everything, and “In this study, we found that searching for hospitals is no exception. Of those who research online, three times more end up on hospital sites as a result of [online] search. But they’re not just visiting sites. They’re also planning visits.”
The online hospital appointment process, according to this study, says:
- 48 percent of patients took over two weeks to research before booking an appointment with a physician; and
- 61 percent of patients visited two or more hospital sites before converting.
Mobile—everyone’s constant companion—plays a major role. “Patients who used mobile device to research are more likely to schedule an appointment:
- 44 percent of mobile device researchers scheduled appointment, (compared with)
- 34 percent computer only
“For those patients who converted and booked appointments, digital content is key to their decision-making. 83 percent of patients visited a hospital website before converting. What’s more, patients investigated the above content before making an appointment, with one in five patients booking appointments with their doctors through non-traditional means:
- 21 percent of patients are now booking via computer or mobile app
- 23 percent of patients are booking in person
- 56 percent of patients call on phone to make an appointment with their physician
You’ll want to read the complete report for additional and insightful details. Clearly, “digital matters,” and here are a few of the important take-away ideas to look for:
- Prospective patients are active partners in their medical journeys;
- Online search (and research) is indispensable to the process;
- Most patients (77 percent) used search prior to booking an appointment;
- Mobile devices (and thus having a mobile strategy) are key elements;
- Online video informs, connects and fuels conversions;
- Patients look for video reviews and testimonials;
- One in eight patients watched online video (hospital, insurance and health info sites);
For more on this topic, read: 4 Data-Driven Factoids for Smarter Marketing; The Day of Digital Dominance Has Dawned; and The Mobile Tipping Point: Optimize Your Healthcare Site or Vanish.