A recent discovery in healthcare has turned traditional perspectives upside down, and no, it's not a leap forward in cancer research or a potential cure for diabetes.

For decades, perspectives on the healthcare consumer experience were mostly limited to what happened in clinical spaces. Then came the “patient financial experience" and people started to think about things differently. We finally understood that patients actually cared about what it was like to settle their bills, and also that clinical outcomes could be impacted by what went on during the financial portion of the patient journey. This revelation has meant an awakening period for the industry, and one that's moving toward the understanding that everything is connected in ways that have long gone ignored. That means, of course, that almost any aspect of the healthcare consumer experience can directly impact the world of healthcare finance. These three aspects in particular, however, are worth your immediate attention.

A Poor Online Reputation Leaves Money on the Table
In today’s healthcare economy, 80% of healthcare transactions begin with an online search. Considering 56% of the clicks resulting from those searches go to local listings with positive reviews, getting consumers to choose your organization vs. the hospital across town depends largely on reputation management.

A hospital's reputation is largely shaped at the physician practice level. Think of any time you've heard someone complain or even rave about a hospital experience — it's usually going to feature a comment about an individual practitioner. People love a great experience with a doctor and his or her staff, and that experience can be powerful fuel in getting the most out of your reputation management machine. Things like friendliness of staff, ease of booking an appointment, office wait times, and follow-up are just as meaningful to consumers as physician quality itself. To share these insights and consumer perspectives, marketers should not only have a seat at the patient experience table, but be given a voice to share feedback with physicians, physician liaisons, and practice leaders regarding the current state of your organization’s online reputation, areas for improvement, and progress against established goals.

There's a two-fold opportunity here too. The more well-known and well-respected clinicians you have working in your organization, the better your reputation as a place of work looks. That means easier recruiting efforts and a higher likelihood of attracting stellar staff—a virtuous cycle that easily results in positive earned media (something you should focus on as paid advertising becomes more challenging) both among your patients and the professional community.

Ultimately, reputation management is about fostering meaningful relationships with multiple stakeholders, all of which help contribute to healthy margins.

Cashing in with Healthcare CRM
Have you ever followed a drop of water through the planet's water cycle? It's an interesting concept and worth understanding, especially if you want to get a feel for how your investment in the healthcare consumer experience turns into increased revenues for your organization.

Every marketing dollar invested has big potential to come right back to you, so understanding how to maximize that circulation is a lot easier with the help of the right Healthcare CRM system.

Unlike horizontal CRM solutions, Healthcare CRMs integrate all of your organization’s valuable consumer data into a single source of truth and then leverage advanced techniques, like predictive modeling and artificial intelligence (AI), to identify patterns in the data that help you select the ideal audience for all of your campaigns and programs. They make it possible to engage individual consumers in the right channel, at the right time, with the right marketing message, to improve not just awareness, but response rates (lift) and downstream utilization. As a result, these systems have been proven, on the conservative end, to generate returns of $4 to $8 for every marketing dollar spent. That means marketing leaders focused on accurately measuring return on marketing investment (ROMI) have clear incentive to use Healthcare CRM data to power patient acquisition, service line, and population health campaigns and programs. They are, in fact, a foundational element for the marketing financial performance that's so critical in today's competitive healthcare environment.

Digital Consumer Experience is Key to Profitability
If there's any concept that marketers concerned with healthcare finance should understand, it's the lifetime value of a patient. The average lifetime value of a patient can push past $600,000 and into the $1 million range. Finding ways to not only acquire, but to continue to digitally engage, delight, and retain patients is a long-term strategy that's critical to the financial health of your facility or hospital system. So, what does that look like in practice?

Mostly, it's about relationship building with consumers, which happens across a variety of online touch points that unfold throughout the various stages of the healthcare consumer journey. Building personas, mapping consumer journeys, and implementing improvements throughout all phases are the key to becoming a consumer’s lifelong choice for healthcare. Strive to understand, and then improve, each individual consumer journey in a holistic way, from the first online search, through the phases of research, consideration, selection, treatment and loyalty.

Some of the things organizations can do? Earn consumer trust by introducing price transparency. Bolster satisfaction with convenience-centric features like self-scheduling and online bill pay. Build stronger relationships by personalizing consumers’ experience through contemporary techniques such as onsite personalization. Create a retail-like shopping experience by embedding star ratings, video, and “compare” features within physician directories. In other words, take the time to understand consumer intent at each stage, be honest about how well you’re meeting those needs currently, and find unique ways to further digitally empower consumers over time.

Making the mental shift to an experience-centric approach to healthcare questions can be challenging, but at the same time, breaking down yesterday's silos and applying new strategies and tactics is a simple way to help reach your organization's financial goals.

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