Watch: What Healthcare Consumers Want in 2021 – Breakdown of Key Survey Results

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Aaron Clifford:
All right and we will go ahead and get started. Thank you everybody for joining and welcome. We have a full amount of content to share and to dialogue with you all on so we want to make sure that we jump right in. So my name is Aaron Clifford. I’m the senior vice president of marketing at Binary Fountain. I am dialing in from Nashville today and Binary Fountain, in case you don’t know. We’re a customer experience platform so we help manage your brand’s reputation, listings management. We have a number of digital tools that help enable your brand to connect to your customers and to your patients and provide the most optimal experience. So I’m excited that you all joined. I always enjoy doing these webinars and really appreciate it. So you might be thinking, “These are pretty normal times in the healthcare industry so what do we need to really talk about?” No, that’s not the case. All of the words that are used to describe the unprecedented, unusual and just whoa 2020 year can be used here, right? Fill in the blank.

Aaron Clifford:
But it’s interesting. We’ve been doing this survey, this consumer survey. We poll over a 1,000 individuals and we work with one poll and we’ve been doing this for four years and so it’s interesting to see the results and maybe even see how some of the results have been painted by the events of this year. So consumer behavior as you guys know and I’m sure you’re experiencing, it is changing. And so the survey is basically to reflect and the result of this is to reflect what exactly is changing and maybe put some words and verbiage and help you all to communicate to your senior leaders and of initiatives that you may need to do and provide some insights that might be useful in building justification for various programs and projects.

Aaron Clifford:
So we’re going to share a little bit in how patients and consumers are engaging with their healthcare providers and opportunities to improve the patient experience. So we’re going to walk through the findings of our survey about how consumers are finding doctors online, their main frustrations with booking appointments, where they leave reviews and all kinds of other data nuggets that might be helpful in building your case and you all might find interesting. To offer some of this wisdom along with the survey results is Stewart. I’m joined with Stewart, the CEO of the integrated marketing firm, Healthcare Success. Stewart, do you want to introduce yourself?

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah, I’d love to and thank you Aaron, it’s an honor to be here joining you and your team to put this on today. So for those of you who do not know me and haven’t seen me before, I’m CEO of Healthcare Success. We are as Aaron alluded to, an integrated agency but I would even really refer to it as a brand performance agency. So our goal really most of our engagements are designed beyond branding and driving results. So a lot of times we’re building service lines whether from multi location practices, health systems, hospitals, other kinds of healthcare entities but usually we’re driving results in some way, right? Very tangible results. So in that work then, I work with hospital executives and CEOs and doctors and patients. And so I feel like I’ve been doing this for over 20 years so I feel like I’ve got some context I’m hoping to bring today and maybe some insights to the data to help inform what the data means. So excited to do that.

Stewart Gandolf:
Before I get started, there is something I think is really important, to acknowledge that this data from a big picture before we dive into all the specifics. I think the first thing that I noted as I was going through the data is that it’s aptly named, right? So it talks about the healthcare consumer versus patients and I think that’s one of the biggest takeaways and I think as you listen to us go into the details here in a few minutes, think about how patients have really become self directed healthcare consumers. I think that’s really, really important because one of the things that it used to be that patients were very subservient like follow the advice of my doctor and family and that’s really the end of it. Now patients are saying, “I’m the decision maker here, thank you very much.” And you’ll see that as we get into this data. So it’s not just trying to talk about healthcare consumerism, it’s real.

Stewart Gandolf:
And for those of you that are working with your board or your executive team or leading doctors or whomever to help them understand this new mindset of it’s all about healthcare consumerism and it’s something I speak to a lot. And the other thing is as we get into this, the patient journey is incredibly complex and incredibly highly fragmented. So Aaron was referring to a joke about in dealing with COVID today and the challenges there, the other little challenge you might have to really figure out what do with is you need to be everywhere. So that’s not a problem. Fortunately there are ways of doing this and Binary Fountain is a great provider so there’s ways of helping you leverage your time because really it is a an omnipresent world out there. So yeah, excited to get into the details.

Aaron Clifford:
Well thank you. I enjoy presenting with you Stewart and if you guys are looking at the slide, there is a little pre-COVID hair for Stewart, obviously not me and a post-COVID beard. So you can’t always trust those profile pictures of what’s reality, right?

Stewart Gandolf:
No.

Aaron Clifford:
We know that from physician profiles on their pictures but could be true of these webinars. But again, thank you for joining. Before we get in, for you agenda folks because I know that there are. There’s folks that want to know what’s on the agenda and what are we going to talk about. So first we’re going to look at how consumers are looking for doctors and what matters to them during the search process and then we’re going to talk about the patient engagement channels and top frustrations with the online appointment booking process. Then we’ll dive into where patients are leaving physician reviews and what they’re saying in those reviews.

Aaron Clifford:
During Q&A where that’s the final section, we encourage you to post your questions as the webinar and as we’re presenting and we’ll get to those questions. We may dive into those before if we sneak over there to the Q&A little button in Zoom but please ask those questions and we’ll get to those and if we run out of time, feel free to reach out and they’ll be contact information there too. We’d love to talk to you more. So let’s get started with some of the major four year takeaways that we’ve uncovered this year. So the first question that we ask and this question has been on all four years. As time goes by, we’ve added some other questions and gotten some more insight but this one’s been on there all four years and it’s what sources do you use to look for a physician? No surprise here that word of mouth with your family and friends is still at the top of the list however, that has slowly been declining the last four years. People are turning to digital and online sources.

Aaron Clifford:
What I find really interesting and this will be a little bit of a theme that I’ll touch on is that 53% said their provider or hospital website and I know that there’s been so many initiatives that you all have done and then the industry that has been undertaken to really build the local hospital brand and even maybe a national brand and that is really reflective in the survey that, that’s paying off. The people are going to the hospital website and trusting. You’re a trusted source, I’m going to go look for a provider there. Of course and that is even above the insurance provider website and they may be looking for whether or not that provider takes the insurance of the consumer but still going to that hospital and provider is still trusted. Of course the insurance provider, people want to know, “Are you on my plan or are you not and where can I go? Who’s on, who’s off?”

Aaron Clifford:
And then the online search engine, of course Google. You guys know this I’m sure from your analytics on your own websites but that is still a major. And then you have social media sites and voice search. Voice search is an interesting one because we’ve seen a steady climb of that and what’s interesting is the efforts that you’ve put in your online search listings and those third party directories definitely help the voice search as far as from an accuracy standpoint. But I think people are becoming more comfortable with Siri and with Google Home and Alexa. All of those devices, I think we’re seeing reflected there. Stewart, what are your thoughts on this one?

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah. Excuse me. It’s really interesting. I think that first of all as you mentioned a moment ago, friends and family are still number one but if you see the ebook that Aaron and his team are putting together, it has more detail because we kept it big picture for the webinar today. What’s astonishing is the importance of everything else has grown so much over just a few years. So it’s really now neck and neck with those top five and we’ll expect to see that more and more overtime. So that’s really again, I mentioned earlier at the opening that this is an omnipresent world and it is. People are looking online from search engines, they’re reviewing rating sites and review sites, they’re looking at the hospital website. Healthcare is the ultimate high involvement purchase decision, right? It’s not like buying Special K at the grocery store or granola. That’s picking a low risk choice, right?

Stewart Gandolf:
When you’re talking about serious disease or surgery or those kinds of things, it’s high involvement so naturally people will tend to use the resources that are available to them. So as they become more and more accustomed to using these resources really for anything else, right? Online for everything. Shopping while they’re in Best Buy, they actually go online to research other options. So I think the trend is obvious where that’s going to go and I guess the other comment I’d make on this before I get a little deeper is that voice search is up a lot. That actually surprised me a little that it’s that high because again, when you have these high involvement decisions, a lot of people want a little bit more research available. However, our search team at our agency both from the paid and organic or like primarily care duty things like doctor near me. And so those kinds of searches do add up and so you can see all of it is important. Sorry, welcome to 2021. You have to be everywhere.

Aaron Clifford:
Right, right. Great, thank you. And the next question is, how many reviews are needed before you make a choice on a physician and that number came in at nine. So consumers read an average of nine reviews before choosing a doctor. What is interesting about this is back in 2010, 2011 when I started doing a lot more at my previous company with physicians and there were only a majority of providers did not have reviews and those that did had two to 10, anywhere in that. They didn’t have all that many but I think as time and adoption has come, there’s more options to share but then also becoming more comfortable with sharing online and providing a review. Those have climbed and so it’s interesting to have doing an inventory of looking, “Well what are the number of reviews that providers have on third party sites?” And having that metric down, understanding where you stand there and if you have a transparency program and where you’re listing the reviews and comments and ratings on your own site, seeing how many you have there.

Aaron Clifford:
For our customers that have a transparency solution, we typically recommend not posting any reviews until there’s 30 so there’s a wide range of variety there. But it’s really important to do that inventory and to realize that consumers are reading these reviews and if it’s an average of nine, you want to make sure that they are healthy and there’s a big number. Stewart, did you have any thoughts on this one?

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah, I’ve got a lot actually on this one. It’s funny you mentioned years ago, I think back when I first started our firm in 2006 and from the beginning with our agency, we really focused a lot on being online in terms of healthcare marketing and anything to do with marketing and healthcare. Still have a lot of SEO built into our site. So back then in particular, we were everywhere people looked and so a lot of journalists called me right when the doctor reviews began and right around that time period a year or two later. Because up until then, nobody reviewed doctors online and doctors in particular just hated this idea.

Stewart Gandolf:
And I remember an orthopedic surgeon once saying, “Look, I’ve been treating patients, 1000s of patients over the years and my entire career is summed up right here by one crappy review by somebody who doesn’t even know what I did for them?” So they really hated it and this was news back in the day and unfortunately my comment was, “Sorry guys but we’re going to have to get over it because number one, patients love reviews with anything else and that’s going to increase.” And by the way, Google loves reviews. So it’s funny, it took a long time. A number of years ago, I interviewed University of Utah Health on our podcast back when they started putting reviews on their website and again, I was admiring them. I was like, “Boy that must’ve been fun trying to convince the internal doctors to do that.” But now we’ve come to where we are today and so again while the providers have gotten better and the hospitals have gotten better at reviews and there are platforms like yours, Aaron to make this easier to scale. You can see nine reviews is a lot.

Stewart Gandolf:
Even today with all these options out there, there’s still a lot of hospitals and a lot of big groups and obviously solos that have not done a good job of maintaining their reviews and not done a good job of owning their reviews and doing what they can to create systems to get robust reviews and improve their patient experience and we’re going to do lots and lots of discussion on this. But I just want to illustrate that it is really important and again, this is not going away, it’s increasing. And then one final comment I want to make. There’s another question in the raw data I thought was really revealing and I’ve talked about this a number of times in podcast on other topics. But essentially this confirms the questions I’ve seen from Christine and others is that over two thirds of patients are checking out reviews even after they’ve been referred by a doctor. So think about that, that’s really important. I’m going to say that again. Over two thirds of people, even after they’ve been referred by their primary care doctor will check out reviews and their provider website. That’s huge.

Stewart Gandolf:
So again, it used to be in the day where a patient is a patient. They’re a ping pong ball bouncing around the healthcare system. I mentioned earlier, self directed and to me it’s a big, big takeaway of this little slide here.

Aaron Clifford:
Great insight and there was one question. I just want to address this one. Saw it in the comments. What’s more important? First party reviews or third party reviews or both? And so what I’ll say is in this survey, when going through it, it might be self revealing just in terms of how consumers are looking and where they’re looking to choose a doctor. And so I would say both right now but I think some of that will be put into place as we’re answering some of the questions and looking at the survey results. So most important factors for choosing a doctor is insurance coverage is still number one and this has been that way for a while in our results. So it’s definitely the cost of health care. People are looking at their deductibles and looking at how much certain providers are going to cost. Is it an urgent care? Is it less expensive than going to a primary care or going to a nurse practitioner? How are all those things and what will my insurance cover is still really important aspects in choosing a doctor.

Aaron Clifford:
Location. That convenience factor that consumer, the title of this webinar, Consumer or part of the consumer insights. The consumer, what’s convenient for me? What is going to work out? Maybe location near work, near your kid’s school, your house of course but location is still really important. You want to make sure it’s not… Consumers, You and I, we don’t want to go somewhere that’s way out of the way. It may inhibit our own health by not going there because it’s too inconvenient. And then family, friend’s recommendations. What’s wild is online ratings and reviews are not too far behind that from the family and friend recommendations and some demographics. I’d say the younger demographics. They actually trust the online reviews more and as far as in they’ll take their cues from the online reviews more than they will their families or their friends.

Aaron Clifford:
But again this hospital affiliation and this is going to be a theme. This is another one in that theme. That brand affiliation that our doctor has with the hospital. It matters a lot and that cannot be de-emphasized. So I just want to highlight a couple of those items. Stewart, I know you have few thoughts on this one as well.

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah and starting off, you just described because Aaron were talking offline about the importance of the hospital affiliation which translates really into their brand, right? How important is that brand and Janet and I have had lots of discussions on podcasts and webinars in the past but the hospital brands are number one. Don’t change very easily. A lot of times, the hospital is part of the community and it’s part of the fabric and hospitals have reputations. So it’s not going to change without really having a concerted branding effort to build that brand. And one of the things that I think about at this stage is as we think about that particular issue.

Stewart Gandolf:
One of our client’s, longest clients. We had them for years, love them. Are a safety net hospital with 500 beds-ish and they serve a lot of Medicaid. And we’ve worked with them on a very tactical basis over the years because they’re really focused on service lines and right now we’re working with them. It’s really time for a rebrand and hopefully they’ll take advantage of that because it’s like by improving a brand of a hospital, the tide that rises all ships. So yes you can do all these individual service line marketing efforts but the brand is really important. You can see how important that is. I can think of another hospital we worked with that doesn’t have a stellar reputation and actually hurts the results with the hospital name is management. So it’s a big impact, don’t underestimate that.

Stewart Gandolf:
Another couple things to think about. The insurance coverage as Aaron said is always critical and my point there is that for many, many people, it’s a binary option. The search begins. You can imagine two universes. Universe one, this is within my coverage. Universe two, is not. It’s really bizarre sitting playing with my insurance card for some reason while I’m talking about this. It’s a coincidence. But most people won’t even consider somebody outside of their insurance. So what that means then is you have to be very cognizant of the consumer experience when they go to your hospital website or your practice website. Make it easy for them to find that. For many of our clients, not all of our clients. We do this but for a lot of them. We want to make sure that insurance coverage is right there where people want to see it. And that’s a strategic decision in any event. Make it easy for them.

Stewart Gandolf:
Number two, location, likewise. Really, really, really important. And so again, the doctors in the hospital may be thinking about is my board certification, my fellowship training, my time at Yale, whatever. Insurance coverage location is the beginning of the discussion. Not diminishing the importance of the other stuff, it’s like they do the easy stuff first and then from there, they look into that universe of how we’re going to choose. So make that easy for them to be able to find. And then finally, that last one there, or that second one, location. For those of you that are involved at the strategic level of the hospital because a lot of hospitals are now building ambulatory clinics into the community so they can get patients. They want to be where the patients are even in these days of telehealth. Location really matters. So not just from a make it easy for people to find the website matters but from a much bigger perspective of where do you want to be? It’s where the patients are.

Aaron Clifford:
Great. And I’ll just say in the 35% online ratings and reviews and this is more in the ebook but that has doubled since 2017 which is pretty significant as well just seeing that move up. The other one has been pretty stable as well. All right so the next question that we ask is what platforms do you use to help you choose a doctor? Again touching on that theme. Hospital facility website. So important that you have and you’re investing your time and resources into your website and I know many of you are. From wanting to rank on certain procedures or certain conditions and that’s really good. Wanting to build tools like book an appointment.

Aaron Clifford:
They’re coming and looking at your directories and making sure that, that experience is amazing because your first party site, your hospital, your clinic site definitely needs to be on par with third party experiences and I know the last number of years, there’s been a big effort in that many of you on this call and many of you in the industry have been working towards that and it’s never where you’ll just arrive, it’s always an investment. It’s always looking and measuring and saying, “What can we do better and what experiences are consumers having elsewhere and how do we mimic that so they’re familiar and it feels comfortable and it’s delightful for them on our own site.” So that is pretty major and I think something that is if I’m in you guy’s shoes, I’m using that stat to get further investment into your own website. You can’t emphasize that enough. Also in looking at how are people responding to your portals and once they log in, that authenticated experience. Is that delightful, is that doing a good job?

Aaron Clifford:
Of course Google is right there close behind. So from this perspective and on the rest of the review sites and social media sites but making sure that it’s reflective of your brand and when you have… This goes a lot into content strategy so not just platforms that are used to help people choose a doctor, this goes a lot into the content plan and strategy that you have in terms of don’t forget about the third party sites. If there are new services, if there are questions that you can answer on those third party sites and they give you that opportunity, make sure that you’re updating those as well. I think that’s extremely important if you see and you’re investing all of these resources into your first party site which is important but not neglecting those third party because those are really close behind that 37% number. Stewart, I know we talked about this. Thoughts you have on this?

Stewart Gandolf:
Sure well first of all, what was intriguing and when you see the data in the ebook, it goes even deeper. So this stopped at Twitter but there’s a plethora of websites that people have used to find a doctor. So it’s not just these six, just for the sake of what’s the most important one are the top six here but there’s probably dozens. Certainly a lot. So that’s number one. Number two, it’s again a complex mix of you can own your website with the current social media points. There’s a pay to play and there’s a combination of all those things that matter. So our agency, Google up there is absolutely critical and our agency does a lot with certainly organic and paid search and do tons with paid social and programmatic and WebMD is a partner.

Stewart Gandolf:
We work with all these different folks and they’re all important so that’s the first thing. And just recognizes a lot with them. And then a couple other quick insights on this. Number one is that another question that was related to this in this tab. The raw data showed that 70% of patients said that online reviews are influential in their decision about doctors which is different, right? This was about finding them in the first place but 73% said that they matter. That’s really important so keep that in mind. So the things that Binary Fountain does or helps to do on that organic side really matter now.

Stewart Gandolf:
Just another couple quick commentaries too. Included in the data on this slide, I mentioned there were many different players. Others like Yelp and USnews Report were there. What’s interesting about Yelp is it seems to have a disproportionate share of attention from any doctors for sure. And maybe it’s because it was one of the first and certainly a lot of people have told me they’re not excited about the way Yelp handles reviews and they feel like it’s being difficult to balance out the reviews they feedback and for whatever reason, that happens a lot. A lot of people are talking about that.

Stewart Gandolf:
So the thing is, it’s interesting though. Yelp seems to be decreasing in importance to consumers. It was less important and I know a lot of hospital or practices care a lot about Yelp but it has decreased in importance. Also, USnews will report, it’s certainly important from a doctor to doctor standpoint. Hospitals are very proud of their reviews. From the consumer point, it was on the map, it wasn’t again, a critical factor. And finally, maybe the last comment on this is Facebook. The announcement of the death of Facebook is premature. Facebook is a very powerful entity out there and there’s a stereotype even among marketers who probably should know better who just assume Facebook has just become moms, older mothers and grandmothers and looking at it, it’s like, “Well actually it’s actually millennials are big Facebook users and Facebook is the one.” And Facebook and then it’s relative because it owns Instagram as well. That combination is really, really important for a whole bunch of reasons beyond the scope of this meeting and this webinar.

Stewart Gandolf:
So they’re all important and I think you really need to have strategies for each of these. Especially the major ones. What are you going to do?

Aaron Clifford:
Yeah good. There’s a question that came in and I just want to address it. There’s two of them related to the number of participants in the polls. We worked with OnePoll, a polling and survey organization. And they had reached out to a 1,000 individuals who had seen a physician and did search for in the last year. So there’s a number of criteria that they go through to prequalify those. So just to answer that one. And then someone made a comment and I meant to say it but Twitter was a surprise on here and it was for me as well. I was really like, “Wow, that’s interesting. Why Twitter?”

Aaron Clifford:
So there’s some hypothesis that I have. I don’t know the science of how are people using Twitter but I do think that there is a little bit tied into that hospital and facility brand and website and really, the facility and hospital brand that plays into it. I do think depending on the search, if you’re searching for the branded term of a physician and provider name, oftentimes depending on the specialty of that provider, they will show up on Twitter. So that’s my only deduction was trying to piece that together but really interesting. And there may be questions. People asking if they are active on twitter. If they’re asking their followers and their community online, who do you use and who do you recommend which would be somewhat of a family friend recommendation but also community but also going into Twitter. So that’s my best guess but thank you for pointing that out. It was a head scratcher for me too because it’s not like Twitter has a directory, right?

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah. I think it’s hard when people are answering a survey from what they were using to find a doctor, if it’s meaning that literally or it’s being influenced is probably part of that. And the other thing too is the big social networks, right? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn are the big four that people are interacting with. And the use cases are very different. Obviously I’ve been involved with all this because this is my job for one and I’m a consumer as well. But Facebook is a different environment than Instagram. Instagram is of course super visual and people use it in a certain way.

Stewart Gandolf:
And obviously there’s others too, right? Snapchat and lots of different things going on right now. But Facebook is more community feeling. Twitter can be either political or thought leadership. LinkedIn is very different as well. So people use these all differently as well and it’s funny. A lot of people, for example Twitter, they’re not on Twitter and so it’s hard to understand these platforms unless you use them. But it is a head scratcher but I think it may have been more to interpret than being influenced. We weren’t there to talk to them so-

Aaron Clifford:
All right, good point. All right. This next section is that we asked how to deal with communication with the provider, booking appointments and top frustrations. So questions around these topics. So the first one is from a preferred method of receiving information from your provider. What was interesting is phone call is still the top of the list. And we didn’t go into detail about appointment reminders and health diagnosis and some of those sub things. It’s just receiving information from your provider and phone is still the primary and rated the highest among those who responded. Email close behind there and then there’s text messages. So obviously there’s a number of different tools that you employ depending on what you’re wanting to communicate and to your current patient population and then also to consumers.

Aaron Clifford:
And so it’s really having a plan. I know most of you do of what you are communicating. I think the hospital and system level, this really comes in. And I know that there are discussions and many systems happening between the patient experience departments and the marketing as far as touchpoints and who’s communicating what and how often are we communicating. I think between the phone call and the email and even the text from the opt in, opt out. The details of that are very important to have a plan there but you’re still not neglecting and we have a customer who used text messages to communicate to their customers about that they had a vaccine. There was a pediatric group that was announcing that they had a particular vaccine available for pediatricians. I think it was MMR. “Have you had your child vaccinated?” And they sent out a text message and that was the way they communicated and they had a pretty good response rate as far as appointments being made and their children receiving a vaccine.

Aaron Clifford:
So that interesting use case there of course having these things and there’s more. In the survey, there are more options. Stewart, what was your take on this one?

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah, very interesting in a number of ways. First of all, phone calls being number one. From a systems provider, if you’ve got a large multi location practice or a hospital health system, phone calls are expensive, volume control is hard. You’ve got to figure out all these logistics and figure out it costs money to have all these people. We’d love to drive them to the website and just do it in there. However, it’s healthcare and certainly healthcare has a disproportionate number of seniors who are very comfortable on the phone. So it’s not surprising phone calls are very, very important still and that will change overtime and become less and less important but it’s going to be a while before that happens.

Stewart Gandolf:
A little bit of good news on that. In previous webinars this year, I’ve talked a lot about COVID and recovering from COVID. This is to show that patients not only prefer to receive information phone calls but you can use the phone and get people back in. So there’s a lot even still today. And of course with COVID, it’s up and down daily in different areas. Every market, if you know a hospital, you have to market for that hospital, right? There could be no COVID patients, they could be overwhelmed. But the fear of coming in for elective procedures is high. What’s interesting is patients have indicated that they’re willing to come in if the hospital provider called them. So just keep an eye on the line, the phone is super powerful and that of course requires logistics and training and time but if you’re struggling with your ancillary services or elective services, phone calls can help. It’s often widely underestimated.

Stewart Gandolf:
I think email is again, very different. In my experience at the hospital provider levels both, it’s underutilized. Some hospitals are really, really good at it and they have databases and they know what patients are interested in and they model and do all kinds of things to get really relevant emails. Others don’t have any patient email addresses, don’t know how to figure out HIPAA, or haven’t figured out the most basic stuff and do nothing. So you’re leaving a lot of opportunity on the table if you don’t have a really robust email program. That’s really it from email.

Stewart Gandolf:
Text is awesome for appointments. We talk all the about how it’s immediate and think about it’s also intrusive so you want to use text carefully but clearly for things like appointments, that makes sense. And finally the last point I’m going to say is that we talked a lot about the importance of social media but the facility website. I think people may underestimate the importance of that. It’s again, a big factor and interestingly enough, Aaron my last comment on this actually is we didn’t show it on this particular side but if you go even to the deeper source data, direct to mail was right behind social media. So nobody likes direct to mail if you haven’t been around very long in marketing, it’s like, “Oh, direct mail, what’s that?” A lot of people still like old fashion, expensive hard to scale direct to mail but there’s even a place for that.

Aaron Clifford:
Yeah. It’s been a while since I’ve received a direct mail from my provider but I’ll be looking for it.

Stewart Gandolf:
You know what’s funny about that, Aaron? I’ve got to say this since you brought that up. I’m the CEO of a company and on all kinds of lists. You would think I get direct mail every day and I get direct mail exceedingly rarely. That’s why it still works because it’s so intrusive, it’s so inexpensive if you’re going to directly at me whereas I get 100s of emails a day, 100s. And nobody talks to me, thank you very much. They all go through my assistant. I won’t take a call or meeting or anything without it going through my assistant or without an email interaction. It just doesn’t happen, I don’t have to go. But this direct mail comes in, it’s so uncommon, I’ll look at.

Aaron Clifford:
Yeah. Yeah, I had a colleague or a friend in another health system said that her CEO came up to her and handed her a little post card and it was about a conference and it said, “You should check out this conference.” That was last year.

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah exactly.

Aaron Clifford:
And I found it interesting because [crosstalk 00:36:09].

Stewart Gandolf:
We do a seminar a couple of times a year in Las Vegas and we invite hospitals and providers to come to that and for all the internet, for all the speaking, for all the emails and subscribers, 80% come from direct to mail. It’s just bizarre.

Aaron Clifford:
That’s a lot, yeah. So it still has a place. All right. Going to the next one, if we ask individuals, where are you booking the appointments? And here comes phone call, number one again and I think part of this is the online booking appointment whether the providers have one or they don’t. Often when they do have one, users and patients, consumers feel like it’s inflexible and they might be able to get something, a better appointment more somebody to work with them when calling. And so I think as we see the maturation and the advancement of online booking tools become better and I think each year I’m seeing improvements where there is more flexibility in options that we’ll see phone calls drop. This has dropped over the last four years so I think there’s a little bit of that happening.

Aaron Clifford:
Again, emphasizing the facility website in your tools that you have available. I would say there is great opportunity there whether you’re using a third party tool and it’s integrated into your own branded site. You definitely want that traffic. You don’t want to leave the booking of your appointments from the consumer to the third party sites. If it’s working for you and that’s a channel, that’s great but you definitely want to be able to facilitate that in the most efficient manner on your own site. So again, really interesting here from booking an in person appointment being a phone call still.

Stewart Gandolf:
Yup. So I would just add to that it’s interesting because that surprises me. Clearly the data shows the older the patient is, there more likely they really like the phone call and that’s broken down in some of the data. But keep in mind, don’t stereotype. So for example, for me I’m in the middle-ish there but to me the idea of getting on a phone to book an appointment drives me insane. I just don’t want to do it and I’m busy. I remember once with my optometrist, I emailed them and said, “Okay, you don’t have book online. Here’s your dates, can you please give me one and I’ll book that way.” And they emailed be back saying, “Can you please just call us?” And my answer is, “No.” So those that want to be able to book online really want to book online. I’m busy, I don’t even think about this stuff until after hours. I never think about booking appointments during the day.

Stewart Gandolf:
And so I think that even though phone calls are important, I would really strongly urge you to think about making that facility website as patient friendly. Embrace online scheduling, make it easy for the patient because this will change. If you look at some of the other data that’s changed predictably, the influence of social media and rating sites, this one I think is going to change over the next three years. We’ll see, we’ll talk over the next couple years.

Aaron Clifford:
Right. I’d love to measure for your thoughts.

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah.

Aaron Clifford:
Indeed. All right. The next question we asked was how do you usually book telehealth appointments? So obviously this year with telehealth getting a lot of coverage and people utilizing it a lot more, that we would ask. And so phone call, still the top of the list there. Not as many as an in person facility website and the patient insurance portal being 11%. So again, a lot of what we talked about in the previous slide and the points apply to this one as well but I did think it was interesting just in terms of that patient insurance portal. Insurance have been pushing telehealth appointments a lot more so no surprise that it’s there on the list and a little higher but Stewart, anything on telehealth appointments?

Stewart Gandolf:
I think on this one, it might be a lot of these phone calls might have been uninitiated to telehealth people that were calling for a COVID appointment and switched because it is ironic. Telehealth and then you want to go make a phone call to switch to telehealth. But I think it’s again, as consumers get more educated, more comfortable with telehealth, that number is going to explode. It’s absolutely predictable. So yeah, we’ll see more of that.

Aaron Clifford:
Yeah, all right. And then the next one. The biggest frustration when booking an appointment online. This is all over the map and you see similar percentages but incorrect and missing contact information being number one. Services not listed, number two and then not enough physician information, number three. I think there’s been initiatives of beefing up the provider profile and bio. I am really happy that just not enough information on the physician is not number one. So that means you guys are doing a lot of great work of profiling your physicians. Still more work to do there but there are a number of health systems investing in video and interviewing the physicians and content. It seems like that can never be enough for consumers and very important for them to have information to choose their physician.

Aaron Clifford:
But then the incorrect missing contact information, I think a lot of this has to do with whether it’s the phone calls or directions. Some of those things and challenges that come up with listings management here. It may be where they’re practicing and what offices they’re going to be at. So investing in that. That’s a first party platform problem and you have managed data, physician data know this. That’s a first party and a third party issue especially at the health system where you’re dealing with affiliates and employed docs and all of that data you have to manage. Really, really tough. I thought it was interesting that there not enough reviews being 10% of the same level as incorrect hours and no insurance information. So that’s another one that is within the theme of reading the nine reviews before choosing a doctor. Within that same theme. Stewart, any insights on this one?

Stewart Gandolf:
I have to say that comments broadly as people have higher expectations of healthcare today than they ever have at least they do on just about anything. It’s my doctor’s office, shrug. It’s not the case anymore. So anything that frustrates a patient is bad. Fix it.

Aaron Clifford:
That’s simple enough. All right, in the next section. Leaving reviews, where and why? So where are consumers leaving reviews. So going to the first one. What are they saying in these reviews? Some of the most frustrating aspects and we asked them, “What are the most frustrating factors when visiting a doctor?” Wait time, no surprise. We are in America, we want things fast, we want it now. We don’t want to wait, we don’t have time to wait. So 32%, leading the charge by far a margin than over cost, exam results, scheduling the appointment. So that wait time. It was interesting just in terms of the expectations that we have for being seen and this could vary. We didn’t go into details about is it between zero minutes and 10, 10 and 20. This is just wait time becomes the most frustrating factor when dealing.

Aaron Clifford:
So important and I know this has been an issue that health systems and physicians have tried to solve and provide and they started early on with providing magazines, right? And these old, outdated copies and luckily we have these phones now that we can pass time on but still a frustration pint.

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah and I would just add to that Aaron. The wait time data if you look back to 2017 has actually improved. So still it’s a frustration. I don’t know what the number was but it was something like closer to 50%. And so with that, I think the insight there is that some hospitals’ health systems and doctors have figured this out. This is important and worth looking from a patient experience consumer point of view and figuring out how they can build a system around the patient’s need versus building a system around their own needs. Very difficult way of thinking.

Stewart Gandolf:
And so the major point here is this is a frustration. So this to me is a big red sign saying opportunity because if you can resolve this big, big frustration, it’s a competitive advantage. So if you want to be more in tune with what consumers want today, clearly a lot of them just presume they’re going to have to wait. It’s like they’ve never experienced it so when you pleasantly surprise them that they don’t have waits, they will remember it, they’ll comment on it. It’s a huge opportunity to throw away. Instead of buying a new wing for the hospital, something simple like wait time can really help.

Aaron Clifford:
Yeah. And there’s earlier when I’m mentioning that 85% of consumers find online Physician reviews reliable. Some of these frustrations and themes may show up in your reviews. So looking at this may not be for everybody. You may have wait time dialed down but there’s some other frustrations that are revealed in the comments and or in patient surveys. So important for you to have your own KPIs around this. This was just from the 1,000 that were surveyed.

Stewart Gandolf:
And this is quick because I know we’re running a little bit close on time but a couple of years ago, I talked to the people over at Cleveland Clinic. This wait time is undefined, right? It could be wait time to get in, it could be wait time to once you get in on the phone or there’s a lot of different ways of wait time. But they had a system wide initiative saying their appointments were available and that’s just an amazing thing. Because that again, is consumer mindset of getting patients in across the board and it’s a long story. If you’re interested, send me an email, I’ll give you the link to the podcast. Just to think about a system like Cleveland Clinic. Saying the appointment is available is amazing but that’s that consumer mindset again, it’s a competitive advantage.

Aaron Clifford:
Absolutely. All right, the next one is factors when rating or evaluating a doctor and so these were when looking at what was most important from a standpoint of what’s important to you for your doctor and what are you evaluating him on. Friendly and caring attitude, number one. That has stuck there. And then thoroughness of exam. So that human connection, we are humans, we want to connect, we want to feel cared for. That’s still number one. And so important to share this with your physicians. They may know this I’m sure but it’s a good reminder just to have this. Maybe not just like, “Hey doctor Smith, friendly and caring attitude is important. Fix your attitude.” Nothing like that but in sharing some of these results, I think that it makes a little kindness in all the patient experience initiatives we probably have in place are pursuing. That friendly and caring attitude definitely pays off.

Stewart Gandolf:
And quickly here. The soft stuff really matters. It’s both men and women, a little bit more towards women. The guys that responded to this, favor it just by a little bit higher percentage on things like thoroughness of examination and reputation of provider which didn’t make the cutoff slide here. But soft stuff matters to everybody and the communication and human stuff. This is becoming an increasing awareness. Interestingly, I think that they lifted the data from the demographic side. Older patients cared even more about the soft stuff than younger folks. So it matters.

Aaron Clifford:
Yeah, no problem. All right then the last question we’re sharing here on the webinar is what online platforms did you use to share your patient experience? So in the survey, 82% of consumers said that they had shared some healthcare experience online. That could’ve been to their own Facebook friends, that could’ve been in a review. It could’ve been on Twitter, Instagram. But here’s the breakdown. So the 18 to 23 year olds shared on Twitter, Instagram and WebMD which was interesting. And also the 40 to 55 year old demographic shared on WebMD as well. See Twitter being the first in two age demographics and then the last one. Facebook, the 56 plus was the exclusive. That was the highest. They also shared on some other platforms. With that, that was the highest number percentage that had shared an experience online. So really important just to understand where your patients are sharing and being there and monitoring it, making sure that you have a pleasant sale. Stewart, was there any surprise to see this?

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah, not really. And what’s interesting is I alluded to earlier the importance of Facebook and again, the death of Facebook being greatly deminished. These numbers breakdown Gen-Z in there at the bottom are the youngest, rather millennials 24 to 39. Gen-X is 40 to 55 and baby boomers. And so if you look at it that way, not surprising to me at all that again, Facebook. Everyone is talking about the death of Facebook. Well yeah, Gen-Z hasn’t embraced it as much, right? Because they were really young when their parents were on Facebook so they never got there. They really just focus on Instagram. It’s number one there. But everybody else is on Facebook a lot so Facebook matters and for our clients who are floating with paid social Facebook and Instagram are the heart of it both. They’re all very, very important. Obviously Google is important too. That’s a huge one across the board. So it really matters.

Stewart Gandolf:
A lot of this slide because it’s such an easy encapsulation, we’re talking of a lot offline. That’s why I like this particular slide just because it encapsulates so much. I think I’ll borrow this slide for some of my own presentations, you guys. It’s a really easy way to communicate something. It’s relatively easy but people get lost. They forget how important these are and they make a lot of assumptions that are not necessarily accurate.

Aaron Clifford:
Yeah, good point. So going in to Q&A session. We have one that’s related to these online platforms. Someone saying they would love to see the national stats on Yelp. So I would agree that it’s falling off in importance but some of the individuals that still love Yelp and I think that there is a market by market in looking at some markets have a lot more activity in Yelp and so you can’t dismiss it and just like, “It’s not important.” Maybe on a national scale but locally, if you’re in Austin and you’re in some of the Southern states where Yelp had a foothold early on, where there is a lot of users and a lot of utilization. You can’t ignore Yelp. And so that is a location by location decision. So you can’t dismiss them all. This was just a national survey. So we’d like to see and maybe include and try to get some of that data to share more in the future on platforms specific in demographics or geographics I should say, areas.

Stewart Gandolf:
I’ll just add to that. It also depends on the specialty. The more consumer direct, the more people will think to use Yelp like dentists or something like that is probably more Yelp specific problem so it’s why not? Again, it is a case by case basis.

Aaron Clifford:
Yeah. So related to this on Yelp, there’s a question. This would be for you, Stewart. Yelp has been pressing for them to invest in an advertising package for a group of pediatric offices. What would you recommend there? Is it worth putting it in or is it a location by location basis?

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah. It’s really hard to say always on this kind of format because it depends on how you’re investing. So I always refer to the investment pyramid or the investment period for financial planning, right? So you want to make sure the very beginning of your lease cover, you have cash and then you’ve got some mutual funds and eventually stocks and then artworks at the top. You can take a risk there on a smaller amount. So assuming you have a broad mix.

Stewart Gandolf:
It’s funny, Yelp has been such a mixed bag and it’s really hard to separate the emotion with people dealing with Yelp from the business side of it. But Yelp can work and so if I have the other bases covered, I would look at it as a test, right? You can test things. That’s the beautiful thing about marketing is you try it for a year, see how it works and then if it’s successful, you do. Keep in mind with Yelp too, when you’re buying into Yelp, you’re buying into their rules. They have almost a religion on the rules of what you can do and can’t do. So keep that in mind as well but assuming you have the budget, it could be a test. Pediatrics is one where consumer directness of it. It could be worthwhile but I would track it and look at ROI.

Aaron Clifford:
Yeah, definitely. Good. Question is Google still considering suppressing star ratings on doctor reviews? And so this is related to first party sites and Transparency. So our customers that have been utilizing Transparency last year had a blip in that and it seems like some were not showing up. I’m talking about the rich snippet and the star ratings that was under our physician’s name. Some of those disappeared, some of them stayed. We’re seeing a lot of those come back and so you have to evaluate and make sure that you’re abiding by the rules that Google provides in their content guidelines and their rich snippet guidelines but we’re seeing a lot more of those come back so good question.

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah. You’re closer to that than I am, Aaron since this is what you guys do every day. But remember I mentioned earlier, consumers love reviews, Google loves reviews.

Aaron Clifford:
Yeah, definitely.

Stewart Gandolf:
That’s an overriding theme. They tend to favor responses to reviews and lots of reviews. So I don’t make those decisions for them but that’s an interesting observation.

Aaron Clifford:
A suggestion for managing negative reviews, online reviews. We have a number of resources on Binaryfountain.com. E-books and also a number of blogs so I won’t go into a lot of detail there but my overall, let’s make sure that you’re responding to all reviews as much as you can. Some reviews you don’t want to respond to. That’s a tickler to look at some of our content on Binary Fountain. All right, question for you Stewart. The data supports the need for omnichannel messaging strategy to ensure your patients are receiving communications via their preferred channel, not the hospital’s preferred channel. So what do you say in that regard with the omnichannel messaging.

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah. We often talk internally about the challenges of being in the hospital marketing department, right? It depends. Some hospitals, marketing is esteemed. It has a seat at the strategic table, it’s critical. In other hospitals, nobody understands it, nobody values it and it can be really, really frustrating in a world where the doctors are in charge and the marketing person is just not understood. So I would say in those cases whether it’s to do with doctors or CEOs that aren’t really understanding the marketing instinct. Data is the one thing that seems to work, right? This presentation in particular I think was really great for that. I found in working with hospitals, CEOs, with boardrooms and with doctors and executives and everybody else. It’s really the tie breaker at least a lot of times because then otherwise, if it’s doctor, their opinion matters more than yours. Sorry but it does.

Stewart Gandolf:
So in Google they have a joke, it’s like, “In God we trust, everybody else bring data.” And that’s what I would say here is bring data to the extent that you can. Recognize that this may be a long term battle internally. And then think about the 80/20 rule. So when we talk about these 25 different websites to consider. All right so lets look at the 80/20 rule. Which ones are the most important, which ones are the most relevant? So can we give you a lot of data here. So for example, in some of those slides, Twitter had high numbers but is it really impacting patient decisions as much? Probably not as much as Google and Facebook. So I would really think through where can we start but it is tough. I totally feel in the hospital marketing department. It’s just so political and oftentimes marketing is not understood but data will help. Presentations like this should help you and if you have more details or questions, email me. I’ll try to help because that can be complicated.

Aaron Clifford:
Yeah, definitely. Great response there. We had a question on how do you recommend generating reviews? Third party Google reviews for hospitals. So it’s a difference between providers because it’s a little easier to reach out and do some outreach to a provider specifically. Some of our clients have had a lot of success in doing emails and asking patients to share their experience at the hospital level online and had a number of responses and saw their response on our platform and were like, “Whoa, what happened?” And they had just run a campaign and they had generated a lot of reviews. So some more on that.

Aaron Clifford:
We’d love to followup and brainstorm with you James on that one but lets for sure. We have more questions but we are out of time but we’re going to followup with those outstanding questions. Stewart and I will tag team on those and get back to you but thank you so much for joining us. We’re going to be sending this out, the recording out to all of you who’ve joined and to all the registrants along with a link to the survey results. So we are really thrilled that you joined. Let us know if you have any questions on the results or on the survey. Stewart, thanks again for joining us. Always good, always fun.

Stewart Gandolf:
Thanks so much. Thank you for having me.

Aaron Clifford:
All right, thank you everybody. Have a great day


Stewart Gandolf
CEO
Healthcare Success

Aaron Clifford
Aaron Clifford
SVP of Marketing
Binary Foundation

The digital patient journey is changing at every touchpoint – from search to scheduling to surveys. Will today’s shifts in consumer behavior be an opportunity or obstacle for your healthcare brand in 2021?

Stewart Gandolf, CEO of Healthcare Success, joins Binary Fountain’s Aaron Clifford to unveil results from the 2020 Healthcare Consumer Insight & Digital Engagement survey, originally presented live on October 15, 2020. They offer data-driven tips and strategies that you can immediately use to improve your healthcare brand’s reputation, maximize your online presence, optimize the customer experience, and ultimately drive new patient revenue.

You will learn:

  • How patients are finding doctors online and using reviews to make care decisions
  • Which factors matter most to healthcare consumers throughout the patient journey
  • Where patients leave reviews and how to generate high-quality feedback on all your listings
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