When you want to book a service—car ride, dinner reservation or movie screening—where do you go? The answer is easy, online. Technology has become so commonplace that people don’t think twice about buying goods and services online. The powerful disruption of e-commerce on traditional retail, known as the ‘Amazon Effect’, has made online presence in healthcare more vital than ever. Increasingly, people expect a unified omnichannel retail experience—comprising both offline and online interaction—when purchasing goods and services. No industry is immune to digital disruption, including healthcare. According to a study by doctor.com, 63% of 1,700 patients surveyed said would choose one healthcare provider over another based on a stronger online presence¹. A study by global business and IT service provider NTT DATA also found that 59% of 1,102 consumers expect their digital healthcare experience to resemble that of retail. So what services should clinics take online to improve the patient experience and how can they do so?
Let patients book appointments online
Make your health services accessible to patients or clients 24/7 via online booking. Patients of all ages increasingly prefer healthcare providers who let them book appointments online, reports Accenture’s Digital Health Consumer Survey. Clinics that use Plato can set up their online appointment booking calendar in five minutes. Patients or clients can secure their visit anytime, anywhere and receive instant appointment confirmation. Reduce no-shows by scheduling appointment reminders in Plato. Pairing up online booking with Plato’s recalls also lets you build a powerful tool for continuous care.
Create an online store
Taking your practice online isn’t solely about promoting services. You can use it to help move inventory off your shelves. If you’re a chiropractic clinic that sells pillows specially designed to relieve neck pain, why limit your buyers to brick-and-mortar? Perhaps a patient is looking for a pillow just like this, but your clinic is far from their home. With an online store, the patient can find this pillow online, purchase digitally, and receive it at their doorstep. An online presence expands your clinic’s reach. Dentists and dermatologists are examples of some practices that have widened their market through online stores.
A doctor’s time is precious. The opportunity cost from spending one hour setting up an e-store is revenue that could’ve been earned from one hour of seeing patients. Set up an online shop in minutes using cloud-based e-commerce platform Shopify. Shopify is a publicly listed company that supports over 800,000 businesses in 175 countries, including healthcare companies. Clinics that use Plato can integrate the clinic software with Shopify to centralise revenue, inventory and payment management.
Though acquiring new patients or clients is important, don’t forget about your existing customer base. Generally, it costs five times more to attract a new patient or client than retain an existing one. According to research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, a 5% increase in customer retention generates more than 25% increase in profits. Loyal customers tend to buy more from a company over time. Clinics can engage existing patients or clients by using recalls for continuous care or staying at the top of their minds through email marketing.
Use recalls for continuous care
Do you want to improve patient or client outcomes, but find it a challenge when they don’t follow their care plans? Recalls serve as a powerful tool for continuous care. Recalls are reminder messages to make an appointment. They are emailed or texted to patients or clients who are due for a visit or medicine refill. For example, a dental practice can send a recall to their patient who’s due for their routine six-month check-up. When a recall message is tailored to suit a patient’s or client’s needs, it makes them feel especially cared for, even though they aren’t physically at your clinic. Multiple studies conclude recall effectiveness across different patient types in both appointment and medication adherence (Schwebel et al., 2018). In Plato, clinics can automate different types of recalls so scheduling becomes routine and easy for healthcare teams. Include your clinic’s online appointment booking link inside the reminder message to Make Recalls Great Again.
Engage using email marketing
Depending on your speciality, email may or may not be a suitable marketing channel. Dental, allied health, dermatology and aesthetic practices that see returning patients or clients at a higher frequency will find email marketing to be more applicable. Email marketing content can be educational, informational or promotional². For example, clinics can use email marketing to inform their existing patients or clients about safe distancing protocols at their practice. Clinics that use Plato can integrate the software with email marketing platform Mailchimp to automate emails to patients or clients.
Want to learn how Plato can help you take your clinic’s services online? We’d love to show you how: book a demo today.
¹Doctor.com defines strong online presence as the “availability of relevant, accurate and compelling information online.”
²For Singapore clinics, please refer to the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act for advertising regulations. For non-Singapore clinics, please refer to your country’s specific advertising regulations.
Schwebel FJ, Larimer ME. Using text message reminders in health care services: A narrative literature review. Internet Interv. 2018 Jun 21;13:82-104. doi: 10.1016/j.invent.2018.06.002. PMID: 30206523; PMCID: PMC6112101.