The line between patient and payer has blurred. Patients find themselves acting more and more like general consumers when shopping for their healthcare. They research health topics and healthcare providers online, then base their care decisions on what they learn. Additionally, as patients bear more healthcare costs directly, they comparison shop for healthcare services, choosing what best fits their needs and their pocketbooks.
For healthcare providers, these new consumer behaviors present an opportunity to speak directly to patients through their online platforms.
Finding Healthcare Info Online is Now the Norm
More and more people look to the internet and social media for health and healthcare information.
In a series of reports called “The Social Life of Health Information,” Pew tracks and reports on how people seek and use the health information they find online. In 2014 Pew found that 72% of adult internet users had looked online for health information.
Health Union, in its own survey, found that 98% of respondents say they used resources they found online or in social media when experiencing a serious health condition. In this group, 73% say that the information they found online had some impact on their health decisions.
Patient Out-of-pocket Healthcare Spending is Massive
Patients have become directly responsible for more and more of the costs associated with healthcare.
McKinsey estimates that patients “now directly control $330 billion annually in out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, and the choices they make have the potential to affect 61% of all healthcare spending.”
In its 2017 Consumer Health Insights Survey McKinsey found that many people would like to be better healthcare consumers—able to make better decisions that meet their healthcare needs, including affordability—but they also doubted they could do that today.
Patients Seek Help to Become Better Healthcare Consumers
Through their online presence providers are well-positioned to help patients improve their ability to make better healthcare decisions. Here are three key strategies you can use to do this.
Patients look online for healthcare information. Engage with them by being online and being easy to find. Having a website and a social media presence are the most effective ways to reach patients searching for healthcare info.
Patients are concerned about the condition of their health and their cost of treatment. Inform them about both. While there may be a wealth of health information available online, information about costs and insurance coverage is harder to come by. Publishing information about how you help your patients understand and anticipate their out-of-pocket costs will differentiate you and your practice.
Patients want to understand the differences among both their treatment options and the providers available to them. Educate patients about the approach you take through your online presence and your practice will stand out.
You Can Help Patients Become Better Healthcare Consumers
You may feel hesitant to take on building and maintaining an active, informative online presence for your practice. After all, writing copy for a website or effectively using social media requires specialized skills that you or your staff may not have.
If this is the case, consider hiring an agency like Healthcare Marketing Network.
At Healthcare Marketing Network we offer customized healthcare-related content creation. Our team of subject matter experts is made up of professionals with clinical and health industry experience. We’re ready to produce the healthcare content you and your patients are looking for.
Corinna Cornejo, BA is a content writer who helps digital health and healthcare companies engage, inform and inspire patients and caregivers. Corinna brings an understanding of the patient’s experience, strong research skills and more than a decade of professional marketing experience to every project she works on. You can follow Corinna on Twitter @corinnacornejo.