All relationships begin with a single interaction. Whether that’s a late-night visit to the emergency room, a quick stop into an urgent care center for a flu shot, or even a brief encounter with an online advertisement, it all begins somewhere. However, the idea of turning these quick exchanges into strong patient-provider relationships can be overwhelming or downright confusing.
In reality, one-time interactions with patients have immense potential because they lay the foundation for a lasting, trusting relationship. In turn, this connection improves not only patient acquisition but also health outcomes. Studies show that continuity of care decreases mortality rates — making it quite literally a matter of life and death. Conversely, patients who switch doctors are at a higher risk of emergency hospitalizations than those who stayed with one physician.
The key to both forming and maintaining a relationship with a healthcare consumer is to engage and communicate with them as effectively as possible. Let’s take a look at a few ways to improve patient engagement using four common interactions.
Patient Engagement During 4 Types of Interactions
1. Emergency Room Visits
Even in non-emergency situations, emergency room visits have grown significantly in recent years. A 2017 study showed that one of the main reasons healthcare consumers choose to visit an emergency room instead of their primary care physician is because of limited access to or confidence in that provider. When developing your ER marketing strategy, identify and target those who prefer emergency medicine to increase patient acquisition.
2. Urgent Care
Like the emergency room, many patients choose to visit an urgent care rather than their primary care physician, especially for quick, basic services. Often PCPs are associated with long waits whereas urgent cares are thought to be more efficient. By communicating with those past patients and reminding them how convenient your urgent care is, you can build trust and become their go-to medical practice.
3. Banner Ads
Banner ads are the image-based advertisements you see on most web pages. Many marketers agree that consumers need to come into contact with a brand seven times before they take action on it. The same goes for healthcare. By repeatedly reaching out to consumers who have seen or engaged with your banner ads, you can move through that process more quickly and begin building a relationship.
4. Marketing Campaigns
Marketing campaigns should also live by the aforementioned “Rule of Seven” when identifying and communicating with healthcare consumers. However, the more targeted your strategy is, the more likely it will convert your audience. One of the best ways to better target patients is through psychographic segmentation.
Psychographic Segmentation Improves Patient Engagement
Psychographic segmentation can improve engagement and acquisition in all of the above situations—not just marketing campaigns. Psychographic segmentation is a way to understand patients based on their values, beliefs and lifestyle. The PatientBond psychographic model contains five segments: Self Achievers, Balance Seekers, Priority Jugglers, Direction Takers and Willful Endurers.
Each of these segments has different motivations and will respond to messaging differently. Whether you’re planning an entire marketing campaign or sending an email to someone who visited your ER last year, understanding psychographics will improve engagement.
Balance Seekers, for example, feel in control of their own health and consider healthcare providers to be a resource—rather than the end-all fount of knowledge. When messaging to a Balance Seeker, it’s important to remember their perspective. Give them multiple options and include reasoning, facts and studies that back up your information.
Direction Takers, on the other hand, completely trust their physician and will follow their advice if it suits their routine. To appeal to a Direction Taker, be specific about what they need to do and give tips on how to fit healthcare into their everyday life.
With the help of psychographic segmentation, you can more easily engage your audience and turn one-time visitors into repeat patients. Click here to take the 12-question survey and see which group you fall under. For more on how segmentation improves patient acquisition, you can also download our case study.