The Patient Journey Doesn’t Begin or End With a Warm Smile

patient journey onlineToday, as has been the case for several years, the typical patient journey begins online. Fortunately, however, the unflattering term “Doctor Google”—patients doing their own “diagnostic research” online—is a less popular label these days. It could be that Internet users are growing smarter.

A Google search is not the same as a medical degree. Sophisticated users know that finding symptom information is not a good opportunity to self-diagnose and/or avoid seeing a professional. Nevertheless, eight in 10 online health inquiries start with an online search (Google, Bing, Yahoo), the Pew Research Center says.

The patient experience and service continuum don’t begin or end with a friendly greeting and a warm smile in the provider’s reception area. And, not only is much of the patient journey carried online, it has become a personal, mobile and immediate experience.

Consumer expectations and satisfaction—and the ability of professionals to meet them—are accelerating. The dominant Millennial generation, which has grown up with the Internet, demands answers, solutions and information instantly. And millennial or not, frequent Internet users are learning the same expectation, particularly

Everyone wants nano-second patient journey service…

Google, the largest of the search engines, reports that brands, advertisers and service providers need to help consumers faster via everyone’s ever-present mobile device. Any expectation to achieve patient satisfaction, Google warns, must be right now. As much as “53 percent of people will abandon a mobile site if it takes more than three seconds to load.” The impatient and presumably less-than-satisfied prospective patient is already looking elsewhere.

Everyone wants personalized service…

Digital and technical advances now allow the online connectivity to be experienced as nearly one-to-one. That’s virtually the definition of patient experience. Google advises that “personalized and relevant experiences are key to connecting with consumers, and they have a positive impact on the bottom line. consumer-behavior-mobileEighty-nine percent of US marketers reported that personalization on their websites or apps resulted in an increase in revenue.”

Everyone wants “wow” service…

As today’s consumer becomes increasingly sophisticated as a mobile user, Think with Google predicts that user experience needs to fit together “across media, channels and devices.” Service standards and expectations need to be consistent, especially for Millennials, the largest cohort with largest spending power. These patients, for example, demand greater connectivity, using the Internet for text, email, bill paying, appointment confirmation, lab results, etc.

The measure of patient experience is primarily in healthcare delivery—between provider and patient at or in the facility. Nevertheless, it has become a process that begins online and, to a great degree, includes the interaction of the patient and the provider online. And satisfaction and a positive patient experience are increasingly mobile, local and immediate.

About Kathy Roy Gaughran

Senior Marketing Strategist Kathy Roy Gaughran [] has helped thousands of clients throughout North America achieve their growth goals. An award-winning strategic marketing planner, Kathy is an accomplished writer and speaker, frequently presenting to national, local and state professional associations.

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