Emerging technology system allows clinicians to increase connectivity with patients

July 19, 2014

As a medical professional in the field of dermatology and aesthetics your time is valuable and there are only so many hours in a day. So the million-dollar question is: Beyond providing quality care for your patients and relying on voluntary referral sources, how you can maximize the potential of your practice?

As a medical professional in the field of dermatology and cosmetic surgery your time is valuable and there are only so many hours in a day. So the million-dollar question is: Beyond providing quality care for your patients and relying on voluntary referral sources, how you can maximize the potential of your practice?

And by maximize, I am speaking in terms of patient satisfaction and practice revenue. Fortunately, there is an emerging technology ecosystem that offers dermatologists and aesthetic practitioners the opportunity to strengthen patient connectivity (satisfaction) while improving the financial performance of the practice.

What does this have to do with your practice? Everything.

Consider this:

  • 41 percent of patients would consider switching their doctor each year for a doctor with better technology (Website, communication, scheduling, etc.). Fifteen percent actually switch;

  • 87 percent of U.S. adults use the Internet (January 2014 survey. Pew Research);

  • 90 percent of U.S. adults own a cell phone;

  • 58 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone (January 2014 survey);

  • 72 percent of Internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year;

  • 77 percent of online health seekers say they began their last session at a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.

In many cases these patients are looking to be more actively engaged in their health, wellness and aesthetic plans. This poses a tremendous opportunity for creative patient focused practices to engage their patients more effectively and efficiently, increase calendar density and enhance overall patient satisfaction.

Digital communication plan

Modern medical practices will need to implement well executed digital communication plans focused on sending the right message at the right time in the way the patient wants to receive it with the ultimate goal of improving wellness, satisfaction and practice stability.

It’s all about understanding the current technology ecosystem and the application to your practice.

The ecosystem applies to each step in the patient engagement cycle. And one affects the other, from the time a new patient searches for you on Google or Facebook, to the check-in process including the paperwork, to the office visit, post-visit, treatment and beyond.

For those practices interested in increasing their patient populations, increasing calendar density, improving two-way communication through automation, increasing patient satisfaction and increasing visibility of all health and aesthetic related services offered, consider this:

Online visibility is an important part of the ecosystem. It not only affects a new patients ability to find you, but also reflects your brand, your place in the community, your accomplishments, first impression and a place for existing patients to share their experience. Online visibility includes search such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, directories, social media outlets, etc.

All roads lead to your site (or at least they should). This is your virtual medical office, likely the No. 1 medium for a first impression.

Crucial questions

When was the last time you reviewed your website and does it accurately reflect to the world your years of education, training and expertise? Are there well-designed video elements, a current blog? Who is responsible for this powerful branding/marketing tool and who is responsible to keep it current?

Are you using a patient management tool as a way to track and automate communication with your patients via text, email and voice? This communication could be related to a specific condition such as rosacea or as a way to promote aesthetic services to your traditional dermatology patients.

The new technology ecosystem for modern dermatology practices should include the following:

  • Mobile responsive Web technology that allows your practice’s website to be viewed on any device;

  • Professional on-page content providing the reader with practical information written in a way that does not require a medical background to understand;

  • A frequently updated blog promoting the practice as well as important treatments and procedures offered;

  • A strong professional social media presence to humanize the practice and increase connectivity with future, present and past patients;

  • A patient management tool beyond the traditional EHR/EMR to automate effective communication with future, present and past patients. This includes holiday greetings, practice promotion, recent trends in aesthetic treatments/procedures, health and wellness tips and quarterly newsletters;

  • Software and methodology to track performance across all marketing mediums.

Successful utilization of this technology ecosystem begins with the fundamental understanding that deficiency in any part of the system will result in a diminished capacity of the entire system. In other words, one part affects another and so on.

In a 24/7 connected world emerging technology ecosystems can help you:

  • Connect with patients (new, existing and previous);

  • Strengthen your connection (add value to them and your practice);

  • Stay connected longer and increase referral potential (through increased satisfaction and wellness).

As dermatology and cosmetic professionals look for sustainable ways to maintain their practice beyond quality care and voluntary referrals, the Internet offers an incredible opportunity to find, serve and keep more satisfied patients profitably. With only so many hours in the day to seek competitive advantages, dermatology and cosmetic professionals should give some thought and attention to these powerful emerging technology ecosystems.

Innovation has always been an important part of the healthcare landscape. For innovative dermatology and cosmetic professionals the Internet may feel a little like the Wild West. The biggest mistake they could make is trying to bring a knife to a gun fight.

Connectivity, loyalty and motivation are all important factors in sustaining patient populations and practice stability.