Whether it was looking for a repairman or deciding which PCP to book with, the way we shopped for products and services was drastically different 10 years ago. Historically, many of us relied on family members and friends for recommendations and few, if any, comparison tools existed to validate those options. However, as the internet matured rapidly, consumer behavior started to change. We became less focused on brick-in-mortar experiences and more focused on digital ones. And today’s online patient behavior is no different. Patients want to weigh their options and they are looking to health systems to make information about their providers and services easily accessible online. Adapting to this shift and treating patients as savvy consumers will be imperative to maintaining relevance in an evolving–and increasingly competitive–digital landscape.
So, how should health systems respond? Start by leveraging any analytics tool, like Google Analytics, to understand how patients navigate and interact with your site to not only improve engagement, but also streamline conversion opportunities. Here are 4 key questions to ask yourself when digging into consumer behavior analytics:
1. Who are they?
Across our customer base, we’ve noticed that Millennials and females make up the majority of visitors to health system websites. However, using your data you can learn other specifics related to your audience, such as geographic location and the time-of-day they search, to develop a robust understanding of who is on your site. The more you know about your customer, the more targeted you can get with your marketing strategies (e.g. content development) to drive higher engagement.
2. Where are they coming from?
Google. On average 2/3 of traffic coming to our customers' Find-A-Provider page comes from organic search, nearly all of it from Google. And when they are in Google, 66% are using the phrase “near me” to find the most convenient option.1 To create new opportunities to capture your audience’s attention–even before they've recognized a problem–make sure your health system and providers appear in search engine results. For instance, for a search for symptoms, like a common cold or an injured knee, health systems can reach this patient by leveraging their Google My Business profile. This is becoming even more important as consumers use their mobile devices to search for care more often.
3. What do they do on your website?
Many of the organizations we work with are focused on enhancing their “digital front door” to improve acquisition and conversion. However, to do so, you must first understand how consumers and patients interact with your website. Depending on their objective, there are multiple reasons why a patient or consumer might engage with a health system website: pay a bill, learn more about breast cancer treatment options, schedule an appointment, etc. Tracking this will give you insight into what they are looking for to ensure the right resources and content are on your website.
4. Are your patients doing what you want them to do?
Analytics can also measure what steps patients follow throughout your website, such as if they convert and make a doctor’s appointment or sign up for a newsletter. They can also reveal where visitors dropped off. Having this information, your team can identify potential strategies for optimizing conversion. For example, from our data, we know that a highly-configured provider profile tends to receive a higher engagement rate but more importantly, a higher conversion rate. For example, patients are 6x as likely to book an appointment with a provider who has ratings and reviews than one that does not.
Don’t Wait to Be Chosen, Meet Patients Where They Are
With patient loyalty up for grabs, it’s important to be where patients are and capture them with the information they are seeking. However, before you start strategizing ways to improve engagement, you need to understand what your objectives are and how to measure success. From there, you can start developing target audiences or specific personas. You may even choose to supplement insights from Google Analytics with survey data and focus group work to deepen your understanding of who your customer is. By maximizing the alignment of your capabilities, reflected in targeted and engaging content on your website, with the needs of the demographics around you, it’s possible to dramatically influence your community while simultaneously acquiring, engaging and retaining a new stream of patients.
1 Kyruus. Patient Access Journey Report, 2018.