The last 12 months have been excruciatingly difficult for companies in every professional sector, but few, if any, have had to endure the one-two punch that hit health care. On the one hand, hospitals and urgent care centers across the country have been struggling with capacity to meet the needs of patients with COVID-19 and forced to juggle a lack of basic supplies, not enough treatment space, and supporting the unprecedented mental health needs of employees experiencing significant increases in stress and burnout. On the other hand, non-urgent care providers like GPs, pediatricians, dentists, and even cancer care providers, have found themselves with an unsurprising dearth of patients, what with people putting off their physicals, checkups, cleanings, and treatments in response to new protocols and concerns around contracting COVID-19.
We could use “flattening the curve” to describe both situations as health care providers are looking for better, easier, and healthier ways to move forward. While there is no magic remedy, health care companies that lean into these rapidly evolving consumer needs with an openness to responsively scaling innovation in operations and smart marketing that engages consumers’ new behaviors, will find success. To that end, here are five key things that will help health care companies not just survive, but thrive in 2021:
Make it easier for patients to find you.
Thanks in large part to spending most of the last year at home, patients are allocating a greater percentage of their health care journey to online resources. In addition to the usual reasons people avoid doctors, the pandemic has changed consumer behaviors around looking for and researching physicians, providers, and facilities. Consider these statistics from a January 2021 DialogueTech article:
- 5% of all Google searches are health-related
- Search drives 3x more visitors to hospital sites compared to non-search
- Patients who booked health care appointments ran 3x more searches than those who didn’t
- A high percentage of consumers researching everything from physical therapists and nursing homes, to hospitals and clinics, are going online before scheduling an appointment:
- Physical Therapist 84%
- Nursing Homes 79%
- Optometrists 74%
- Physicians & Surgery 71%
- Dentists 71%
- Hospitals 69%
- Clinics 67%
- Chiropractors 61%