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How to Adapt Your Patient Communication Strategies to a Modern Consumer

Peter Hauck

Whether you're a major medical system or a small, local clinic, all healthcare providers have a similar set of patient needs when it comes to communication. These needs tend to evolve over time, and it can be difficult for healthcare institutions to keep up with the changing expectations of their potential patients. With this in mind, let's take a closer look at what patients have come to expect from healthcare providers and the ways hospitals and clinics across the country might potentially be falling short.

Read on for tips and tricks for navigating today's patient communication expectations.

Digital Diversification

For a long time, the healthcare industry got by with simple websites that listed a phone number and email address at which their hospitals or clinics could be reached. While this may have done the trick in the early 2000s, it's no longer enough. In the eyes of modern consumers, appropriate uses for email are few and far between. Odds are good that potential patients born in the last few decades are hesitant to reach out over the phone or through email unless they absolutely have to. So, what does that leave us with? There are a few options that will allow you to engage with your patients well before you ever see them face to face. The three saviors of healthcare communication in the modern age are texting, chatbots and online appointment schedulers. At the end of the day, young people don't want to have to talk to a person in order to set up their appointments. They want solutions that will allow them to book over the phone, through your website or through an app. In order to make sure that you are properly equipped to handle all potential patients, it's best to make sure that you have one or all of these options in place. By doing so, you'll see younger and younger patients signing up for appointments—which will help sustain your hospital or clinic's long-term growth.

READ: 5 Media Channels Your Hospital or Clinic Should Budget For

Ready & Responsive

Instant gratification. If you've been paying attention, you've likely heard these words thrown around a lot in the past few years. One of the major benefits of the internet is how seamlessly it allows us to connect with one another. For generations born with a remote in each hand, setting up an appointment and not receiving any sort of confirmation in return is a surefire way for a clinic to lose business. As a healthcare institution, you can embrace these attitudes by adopting in-app, over-the-phone and online appointments. These efforts can be reinforced by ensuring that there is always someone on your end of the line waiting to answer the phone if your patients do decide to call with questions. If you allow patients to set a time that works for them without needing to speak to an actual person, you're more likely to get their business and have them show up for their appointments.

READ: Top Healthcare Marketing Trends for Clinics

Culture of Communication

Some hospitals and clinics can be a bit standoffish when it comes to communicating with their patients. A patient's health is generally the most important thing in their world, and being slow to respond can make them feel uncared for. With this in mind, it's important to embrace communication with your patients in whatever way works for them. If your response to an email is upbeat and chipper, then a patient is more likely to have positive associations with your hospital or clinic. On the flip side, if the person on the other line is short with your potential patients and is actively trying to redirect them to your website (or any other place where they no longer have to "deal" with them), it can paint a bad image of your medical practice. After all, if someone doesn't care enough to answer your questions on the phone, how are you supposed to trust them with your crucial medical procedures? Ultimately what this means is that—no matter how hectic your hospital gets—your email and phone lines should never go unanswered.

READ: 3 Effective Swag Ideas for Healthcare Marketers
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