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The patient journey in digital healthcare

The pharmacy and healthcare industries are being transformed with increasing energy as part of the process of digitalization. Good connections with patients are more important than ever for keeping pace with the digital business models of competing companies, regardless of whether companies are in the pharmacy industry, are manufacturers of medical accessories or produce products for aesthetic surgeries.

The following article will present tools selected for the establishment of a patient journey based on the specific example of a manufacturer of breast implants.

Transparency, information and presence

Like the term “customer journey” that comes from the digital marketing and lead generation jargon, the words “patient journey” in the healthcare industry describes the experiences of the patient’s contact with a doctor or with pharmaceutical products. In our example, a patient should have the best possible experiences from the initial sensation of a desire for an aesthetic modification and the beginning of their self-information process, through consultation with the surgical specialist, the surgery itself and the follow-up treatment.

In addition to a professional, high-quality, personalized consultation, a smooth surgery without health concerns and an aesthetic result, the issues of transparency and patient information are extremely important. The patient first decides to research the potential surgery on the Internet. From that point, the patient gathers extensive information about products, options and risks on her own. Stories about personal experiences are also compared in order to find the most experienced surgical specialist and the most promising treatment for the patient. Even at this early stage, one company has especially had a positive influence on the patient's decision. The manufacturer of the implants provided the patient with a lot of additional information and tailored content through their website, which ultimately convinced the patient.

The manufacturer’s improved web presence made it possible for the patient to convince herself of the expertise of the clinic and the quality of the products before they contacted the clinic. Tip: Make it simple for the user to navigate the website. Describe your company, your products and services, and make sure that you make it possible for patients to quickly find important information, such as stories about personal experiences from patients that have already been treated or links to specialized practices that use your products.

Extend your reach to make it easy for patients to choose your company

You should also use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques so that the content of your pages will easily be found on search engines and you will reach the most possible users. By using “non-branded content”, you create added value for the patient without clearly using promotional content. This non-branded content should provide extensive explanations and detailed information about the entire topic. When the customer decides for a medical product, you will then have significant advantages since the user already trusts your company on the one hand, and, on the other hand, you have placed the focus on those characteristics that differentiate your product from your competitors during the information collection phase.

Beyond that, paid advertisement for these content pages (search engine advertising or SEA) is also a possibility, which can lead to noticeable customer growth although it must be tested in individual cases. Consideration should be given to the points in time of your patient’s journey when they should find a “conversion-optimized landing page” and the cases when they should find specialized content pages. Like this, potential patients could be presented with specific content by advertising that content.

Create real added value in digital healthcare

A regular newsletter creates added value using individualized tips, and people interested in the newsletter can sign up for it on the website. Doing this can extend the reach of your content while simultaneously strengthening the foundation of your expertise. Connections with manufacturers can also be strengthened by surveying satisfaction after contact with your product (in our example a follow up to the breast surgery). The patient’s positive feedback can then be shared as a quotation and as “user generated content” by the manufacturer’s social media channels.

Increased visibility, more satisfied patients and increased revenue

Often, patients have already read a number of pages of content before they contact you, which has created an impression of the doctor, the medication or the product. This advanced research will fundamentally modify the consultation. Potential customers no longer have to be introduced to the topic area, but simply need to be convinced with some honest facts. Any open questions the patient might have need only be answered comprehensively. For that reason, the consultative process must be reorganized and begin before the initial personal meeting, preferably beginning with online search results.

In summary, it can be stated that a good patient journey will be created by informative, medically valid content as a central component of contact with the patient. A recommend practice is to have topic-specific content that allows your expertise to speak for itself rather than tailoring content directly to your company or product. A good patient journey can ensure significantly increased numbers of patients on the one hand and strengthen loyalty to your products on the other hand. Increased visibility and public awareness, improved rankings on portals and revenues increased by a heightened word-of-mouth rate are the results and reasons why companies in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries cannot avoid considering patient journeys in this time of increased self-information through the internet.

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