Millennials are changing the nature of the patient and healthcare provider relationship. I can attest to this as I recently ran into an interesting situation relative to healthcare and local search. I could feel a nasty cold coming on and I just couldn’t kick it. After trying all the home remedies out there I finally decided that it was time to go see a doctor, however, I quickly realized that I didn’t have a doctor. This was the first time ever having to find my own doctor (yes, we… Millennials are spoiled!) and I’ll give you one guess as to where I started my search...that’s right, the Internet! I entered a simple search, “Doctors Near Me” and took to sites like Google, ZocDoc, Yelp! and Healthgrades to help me make my decision. I’m not the only millennial who has taken this approach, in fact, as a whole, my generation is starting their healthcare search online.
Healthcare Providers Losing Patients by Not Adapting to Millennial Needs
Last year health care expenditures reached $3.35 trillion working out to about $10,345 per person; wouldn’t you want to be bringing in a larger chunk of that? As millennials continue to leave the house (that’s after 30, right?), they are making more decisions on which healthcare providers they want to see and becoming the next big patient base. Many of them are finding themselves in situations where they either need to find their own dentist, doctor, chiropractor, etc. for the first time or they need a new one. For healthcare providers, this means catering to the changing needs of a new generation in order to drive these new patients into their facilities.
Of the millennials who are seeking out primary care physicians (PCP), "32% say that if they did not like their experience, they will find a new doctor". Doctors only have one shot at keeping their patients, making it vital that healthcare providers are listening to their patients and considering what they are really looking for.
Why is it that 34% of millennials prefer a retail care clinic and 25% prefer acute care clinics to primary care physicians (PCP)? With the integration of technology into our daily lives, we have become a society that thrives on instant gratification and that idea has begun to spill over into what millennials are seeking from their healthcare providers. When millennials decide to seek out help from a professional, they want to avoid making an appointment and they want wait times to be held to a minimum.
“Millennials are looking for convenience and customer service, and they’re not necessarily looking for a long-term, in-depth relationship” - Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright, CEO of the Medical Group Management Association
Millennials are asking a lot from their healthcare providers-fast service, low cost, great patient experience-if healthcare providers invest the resources needed to meet their demands, how can they be sure it is going to pay off? How will they know if their patients are satisfied and how will new patients hear about the awesome changes they are making?
Local SEO & Online Reputation Will Drive More Patients into your Practice
Healthcare providers without an effective Local SEO and online reputation strategy will lose out on prospective patients that are instead turning to those providers who have implemented such strategies. For example, consider Chatmeter’s current partner, Medical Facilities of America:
“…Our search rankings increased nearly 3,600%. We started with only having about 60 keywords on page 1 of the different search engines, to nearly 1,000.” Erika Lovegreen, Communications Manager for MFA.
By helping Medical Facilities of America implement a successful local SEO and online reputation strategy, Chatmeter increased their visibility driving more patients into their facilities.
Nearly 50% of millennials and Gen-Xers are using online reviews when shopping around for healthcare providers. The majority of a healthcare provider’s online reputation is based off of reviews previous patients have left about them and their services. They trust these reviews and opinions they find online much more than the generations that preceded them. Millennials are using reviews as their guide when deciding which health care provider to choose because it lets them know what the service and experience will be like without having to test it out for themselves.
Patients are quick to change doctors after just one unpleasant experience, therefore it is highly unlikely that a practitioner with negative reviews littered throughout their listing will win the vetting war. Moreover, if you don’t have any reviews at all, millennials won’t even consider you as an option. With all of the sites like Healthgrades, Google and Yelp!, it is easy for patients to compare your reviews directly with all of your competitors making competition for new patients more competitive than ever. Review Generation is a great tool that healthcare providers should consider as a way of diluting the number of negative reviews and increasing their positive reviews around the web.
The practice of local SEO and reputation management is still relatively young in the medical field, there is a lot of opportunity to become a leader in the industry and outshine your competitors. As the new generations become more tech savvy and rely more heavily on technology, the trend towards using local search and online reviews when making decisions on healthcare providers will only continue to grow. The time to take your online reputation into your own hands is now! Get ahead of the curve and make sure your reputation is where it needs to be by scheduling a demo with one of Chatmeter’s Reputation Management Experts!
P.S. For more information on how Local SEO can benefit healthcare providers and in depth tips on creating an effective local seo and reputation management strategy, keep an eye out for our Best Practices: Healthcare and Local SEO post coming soon!