Navigating the way forward - How are your patients finding you Post Lockdown?
Updated: May 2
It has been just over a year since NHS England formed a partnership with the independent sector - a move made in a bid to alleviate pressure on NHS hospitals as they focused on managing the Covid-19 crisis.
Almost every sector has been impacted by the Pandemic. The independent healthcare sector's unique challenge will be to bring patient turnover back up to pre-covid levels and to maintain business targets - something that will require focus and strategy.
Despite the obstacles it has posed, the COVID-19 pandemic has also acted as a transformation catalyst to healthcare in general, speeding up the adoption of changes in diagnostics, consultation and the patient pathway. There is a new model of healthcare delivery emerging with more emphasis on preventive measures, remote care, technological advancement and efficiency.
Telehealth services have now been used in the large-scale screening of patients, home delivery testing kits and patient digital platforms have swiftly been implemented allowing direct patient access to results and x- rays. Such changes were predominantly geared towards reducing face to face contact in light of the risk of Covid infection but are now likely to become a permanent fixture in the future.
Patients are still being urged to practice caution in their daily lives, which has for the first time, extended into healthcare too. There have been approximately 725,000 fewer hospital admissions since Covid-19 and there are reports that it could take many years for the sector to get back to those pre-covid levels it is currently striving for. Now more than ever before, patients are concerned about their health and want to take a proactive approach to their needs. The ongoing Pandemic has only accelerated this stance.
Being visible as a brand will be one of the most fundamental ways to remind your existing patients about your services whilst also capturing a new audience. How do patients typically connect to their medical caregivers? Here are a few of the common ways you can capture your patient's attention.
Traditionally, a local GP would have developed a strong relationship with the local community. This is still the case today, so building third party referrals will be key to attracting a new patient base. This also typically happens with new patients who have been treated successfully by clinicians or surgeons - patients will also follow the same surgeon or clinician for many years, so learning how to retain your existing patients by reinforcing those key messages will be crucial in continuing those relationships. Your patients should be your biggest advocate. PR is not just about finding new audiences, but also about fostering loyalty in keeping your existing patient base. Creating a community where you can communicate any advancements or successful clinical outcomes, will, help drive your brand to the forefront of your client’s minds in times of need.
No doubt that healthcare has advanced its communication outreach through digital campaigns. Digital marketing allows hospitals and clinics to target local areas, lifestyle interests and age groups which make it easier to reach the right audience.
A recent study from Think with Google confirmed that over 75% of people who look up health-related issues online have undergone higher education. Around 50% of those are researching information about a specific healthcare practitioner. The advertising cost per patient acquisition via digital platforms can be as much as 60% lower compared to TV and print advertising, so this is hugely beneficial economically for a practice. Data driven campaigns are also much more efficient and less costly at taking down patient information. It also increases the brand's visibility on google search engines.
Earned media coverage - Whilst digital marketing has allowed for more visibility online, media campaigns add further credibility as healthcare patients still take assurance from natural third-party endorsement. Whilst paid advertising can create close proximity to your audience, earned media is of higher value to patients particularly within the independent sector where they can remain resistant to paid marketing outreach. Third-party endorsement closes the gap on paid-for campaigns, bringing in new customers who view earned media as a type of referral and recommendation and are likely to trust the source since the review is seen as independent.
If you would like to know more about how earned media can increase your visibility and attract patients, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org