What Are the Best Channels for New Patient Acquisition?
Charles Darwin once wrote, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” He may have been referring to evolution in nature, but with the rise of healthcare consumerism, hospitals, medical practices and other health systems need to evolve too — especially when it comes to patient acquisition.
A 2018 article on patient acquisition strategies notes, “To effectively drive patient acquisition, healthcare marketers must not only navigate quickly shifting marketing channels; they must also cater to an increasingly wired populace and a growing class of savvy, empowered consumers want more options, fairer prices, greater convenience and better interactions across the continuum of care.”
Expand your marketing reach with psychographic segmentation
It’s a tall order for an industry coming from behind on digital transformation. Healthcare providers must engage consumers more effectively to boost brand recognition, improve patient acquisition and nurture loyalty to retain patients in a highly competitive market. Where should you start?
Not with a one-size-fits-all healthcare marketing strategy.
Today’s healthcare consumers are accustomed to retail brands that go where they are and deliver very personalized experiences. Psychographic segmentation helps healthcare providers see what makes consumers tick beyond demographics or diagnoses.
The simple survey, developed by c2b solutions, classifies healthcare consumers into one of five distinct personality and lifestyle types: Self Achievers, Balance Seekers, Priority Jugglers, Direction Takers and Willful Endurers. Primary care practices and other healthcare providers can then use these insights to uncover consumers’ attitudes toward health and wellness as well as learn where they seek out health-related information and what channels they prefer.
Take the channels that different consumers prefer based on their psychographic segment, for example. When asked the preferred way of receiving marketing information about healthcare service providers, segments differ in these ways.
- Self Achievers are statistically more likely to prefer email than Priority Jugglers, Direction Takers and Willful Endurers.
- Self Achievers are also more open to automated phone calls, online video calls, text messages and smartphone apps than Balance Seekers, Priority Jugglers and Direction Takers.
- Willful Endurers are more inclined than Self Achievers, Balance Seekers, Priority Jugglers and Direction Takers to prefer a live phone call or an online video call.
When asked about the apps consumers regularly use on a smartphone or tablet, segments again show differences.
- Self Achievers are statistically more likely than all other segments to use fitness or health apps.
- Willful Endurers are less likely than all other segments to use search/reference apps.
- Priority Jugglers and Direction Takers, on the other hand, are most likely to report using no apps — not even social networking apps.
And when asked about social media use, two segments are more likely to engage with healthcare organizations via social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Both Self Achievers and Willful Endurers are more likely than the other three segments to:
- Follow a healthcare provider on a social network like Facebook or Twitter.
- Post positive or negative feedback on social networking sites — with Willful Endurers even more likely to post negative reviews than Self Achievers.
Self Achievers and Willful Endurers are also more likely to post positive or negative feedback on a specific healthcare provider's site — with Willful Endurers again ahead of Self Achievers when it comes to negative comments.
Knowing what channels consumers are using is essential to new patient acquisition, and can ensure you’re sending the right message at the right time.
Must-use tactics for patient acquisition
Identifying how you need to adapt your marketing messages to drive engagement among different psychographic segments ensures that your patient acquisition tactics hit their targets. But, what else do you need to understand? An article in Becker’s Hospital Review notes, “Convenience, ‘social proof’ and readily available information are key to the retail experience. Consumer expectations for healthcare are no different.”
Consider using some of these healthcare marketing strategies for effective patient acquisition.
- Strengthen your online presence — Healthcare consumers today start their journey online, not at the doctor’s office. According to a Doctors.com survey, 80 percent of respondents went online to make a healthcare-related search in the past year, and 81 percent reported that even with a referral, they did additional online research — on social media, review sites and provider websites — before making an appointment. In fact, the survey found that 66 percent of people will choose a different provider because of a strong online presence. That number climbs to 70 percent among a certain age demographic — and if you guessed Millennials, you’re incorrect. It’s actually adults age 60 and older that will jump ship for a better online experience. And make sure your website is mobile-friendly and you have a SEO strategy that includes ranking for local search since 46% of Google searches are for local information. Many prospective patients start their online journey with a search like ‘urgent cares near me.’
- Take a proactive approach to online reviews — A strong online presence is just the beginning. With a good percent of your prospective patients checking out provider review sites to help choose a hospital or doctor, you should monitor your reviews and respond to patient feedback to better understand concerns related to patient experiences and demonstrate your commitment to continuous improvement. How important is this? The Doctors.com survey found that 60 percent of patients would avoid booking with a provider if those reviews seemed inauthentic or sponsored. Consumers already expect providers to deliver quality care; they also want to know if a provider delivers quality customer experiences, with 86 percent admitting that a good customer experience is the driving force behind 5-start reviews.
- Personalize your email campaigns for maximum impact — We’re not talking about a ‘Dear <<first name>> type of personalization here. Self Achievers and Willful Endurers may value email more than other segments as a way of receiving healthcare information, but overall, email beats out other marketing channels among the remaining segments too. By customizing emails to speak to these different segments, you increase the relevance which will help boost patient acquisition. For example, an email to Priority Jugglers could focus on much-desired convenience, such as evening or weekend appointments or timely reminders of preventive care that can help them avoid illnesses that keep them from meeting their family or work obligations.
- Participate in Company Wellness Programs — As a potential patient acquisition strategy, getting involved in corporate wellness programs makes sense. You can connect with local businesses on issues that are important to them too; after all, healthy employees are more productive. Offering wellness workshops or lunch and learn sessions on relevant topics introduces you to healthcare consumers in a very approachable environment. Hand out brochures, emphasize the convenience of your location and hours and you have a good chance of bringing aboard new patients — even distance commuters who may be in the market for a convenient medical practice that fits into their schedule more easily.
Understanding the channels where consumers want to connect with their healthcare providers helps your hospital, medical practice or urgent care to align healthcare marketing strategies to target the types of patients you want to acquire. Likewise, knowing what certain consumers need to make a decision improves engagement over time which, in turn, helps retain your patients, motivate their behaviors and drive better health outcomes.
For more patient acquisition insights, download our whitepaper: "Psychographic Segmentation and the Healthcare Consumer."