The Human Side of Medicine: Healthcare Communications
Patients Want to Know More About their Doctor
What can you do to make sure your patients are comfortable with the care they receive?
In a small study conducted by Vanderbilt University Medical Center and published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma, they found that patients who knew more about their doctor correlated with higher overall patient satisfaction ratings.
You can’t ignore the human side to medicine, which applies to face-to-face interactions as well as other patient touch-points such as your website and healthcare communications like email messages and social media posts.
Healthcare communications begin before patients even schedule an appointment. Where can your patients find more information about you and your medical practice before they schedule an appointment?
"Whether we like it or not the reality of the world is that we are seeing more of an emphasis on not just outcomes, but the satisfaction of the care we deliver. So, while we should always strive for excellent outcomes and excellent care, we also can't forget that there is a human side of medicine and we need to do what we can to make sure that our patients are comfortable with the care that we are giving them. I believe it is important for us as physicians to really lead this charge of improving our patient's experience."
– Alex Jahangis, M.D., associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation (source)
Doctors Need to Be Online
Patients have more power and choices when it comes to healthcare. In order to get in front of patients during their initial Google search, doctors need to take a proactive approach.
As vain as it may seem, your online presence and online reputation matter.
We know that your goal as a doctor is to provide exemplary patient care in a professional and compassionate environment. But if you aren’t communicating your approach, expertise or medical background on platforms that your prospective patients are visiting then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
A telephone survey, conducted in 2010 from a pool of 3,001 US adults, found that of the 74% of adults who use the Internet:
- 80% of Internet users, or 59% of all adults, have looked online for information about any of 15 health topics such as a specific disease or treatment.
- 34% of internet users, or 25% of adults, have read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group, website, or blog.
- 25% of Internet users, or 19% of adults, have watched an online video about health or medical issues.
- 24% of Internet users, or 18% of adults, have consulted online reviews of particular drugs or medical treatments.
- 18% of Internet users, or 13% of adults, have gone online to find others who might have health concerns similar to theirs.
- 16% of Internet users, or 12% of adults, have consulted online rankings or reviews of doctors or other providers.
- 15% of Internet users, or 11% of adults, have consulted online rankings or reviews of hospitals or other medical facilities.
Just to reiterate, those results were documented in 2010. Since then, healthcare communications have become increasingly important, especially given the proliferation of mobile devices.
Evaluate Your Online Presence and Online Reputation
Consider your healthcare communications from all angles. Does your medical practice and its doctors….
- Have a modern, easy-to-find medical website?
- Actively publish original, patient-focused content?
- Use LinkedIn?
- Engage with prospective patients on Facebook?
- Invest in Google Adwords campaigns or SEO so patients can find you?
People trust people, and doctors are no exception. Our advice when it comes to online patient engagement and satisfaction is to be useful, authentic and caring.