Marketing Automation and the Patient Journey

By: Hileman Group  | 04/30/2022

A patient’s journey through the healthcare system can be filled with stress and anxiety.

Finding the right diagnostic tools and solutions to ease concerns and treat illnesses or other physical and mental health problems is not always easy. But there is a way to simplify the process and provide the right information to the right people when and where they need it most… and it’s called marketing automation.

By incorporating marketing automation into your healthcare practice, you not only give patients added confidence in their care, but you also create a stronger ongoing connection with them. Marketing automation helps keep the lines of communication open and constantly flowing. Plus, it keeps your patients up to date on what’s happening with their care and any additional offerings your practice has that may benefit them. This in turn can help increase overall patient retention, growth and satisfaction.

The Importance of the Patient Journey

In considering how automation is important to your patients, it’s first important to understand the patient journey that occurs within the healthcare system.

Silverline describes the patient journey as something that “represents the entire sequence of events that a patient experiences within a given healthcare system or across providers, from scheduling an appointment for a regular checkup to receiving treatment for an illness or injury.”

Every patient interaction, no matter how small, is a critical part of their patient journey. Automation can help drive personalized engagement and interaction by scaling and delivering the right information at the right time and to the right people.

By checking these boxes, trust is established between patient and provider. Your patients feel they can depend on you for timely, educational information that’s relevant to their specific needs and health. This growth in trust and acceptance benefits providers by solidifying patient-provider relationships and reinforcing their positions as  dedicated, patient-first resources.

The Connection Between Patient Journey and Marketing Automation

The patient journey is key when implementing marketing automation. It helps lay out various experiences a patient will encounter throughout their treatment journey.

By looking at this journey holistically, providers can better understand what information a patient may be looking for, what questions they will ask, and what communication tactic(s) would be best to use to connect with them. By remaining proactive rather than reactive, a 

provider can deliver relevant content to keep patients informed and put their minds at ease throughout their journey.

One way of accomplishing this is through trigger-based communications.

Trigger-based communications allow you to use patient behavior to create personalized messages that resonate with them. Trigger-based communications take into account patient web page searches and browser inquiries to help you create and send the right message to the right person at the right time.

Another way to establish this communication is through automatic post-diagnostic notes and suggestions.

A patient may feel overwhelmed and have a lot on their mind before and during doctor visits. Even after they leave, they might not always be focused on the visit or what was discussed. LeadSquared suggests, “After the diagnosis, or after their first appointment, automatically send all the information to the patient via email, text message or through the patient portal.” These automated notes can be reviewed at a patient’s own speed and in their own time. Plus, they can be revisited multiple times. This helps instill confidence not only in you as a provider but in their health journey (without the worry of forgetting something from an appointment).

The Importance of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is important not only for the patient journey, but to the provider(s) that are involved in the journey. From delivering the right ads, ebooks and whitepapers, to email marketing and text/SMS delivery, marketing automation can place (and keep) you in front of patients.

Providing relevant information regarding treatment and care helps solidify your position as a trusted, dedicated resource for all their healthcare needs. It also prevents gaps in patient care, increases preventative measures instead of reactive treatments and helps patient stay healthy.

Silverline agrees such practices encourage engagement and trust between healthcare professionals and patients. Plus, according to the Beryl Institute, 70% of patients are more likely to share a positive experience with others—increasing a practice’s reach and reputation.

However, the Beryl Institute also says 76% of patients are likely to share a negative experience; 43% won’t return to that provider; and 37% will find a different doctor entirely.

Patients Expect Personalization

From treatment plans to clinical protocols, personalization is a requirement in the healthcare field—and something your patients have come to expect.

To improve your engagement, personalization techniques need to extend beyond clinical data. You need to get a better understanding of the unique personal needs of your clients—like preferred communication styles, transportation problems patients may encounter, etc.

By getting to know patient preferences and “pain points” you can find better ways to connect with them and get the information they want in front of them sooner and in a form that they’re more likely to open and read.

Automating marketing campaigns based on your specific target audiences can better expand your reach and help grow your practice at a faster rate.

In a Forbes article on automation in healthcare marketing, Dr. Ajay Prasad described how this kind of marketing helped his company. He says, “My company, RepuGen, created an automated platform for healthcare reputation management and patient engagement, and I have seen healthcare practices retain more than 80% of unhappy patients and earn about 10 new patients a week from referrals. So it's not surprising to me that Forrester has predicted that global spending on marketing automation tools will exceed $25 billion by 2023.”

There are many strategies to help improve patient engagement through marketing automation while also building strong and lasting relationships. Forbes lists some of these, including automating patient referrals, physician referrals, online listings management, and email and text messaging.

Forbes went on to recommend include automating verified testimonials pages as well as sending birthday and holiday e-cards. This kind of automation keeps your practice connected to your patients whether they’re coming in consistently for treatment or have visits spread out with general checkups. Sending e-cards can also help bridge the gap between visits—especially when there may be less ongoing healthcare communication.

Marketing Automation Benefits Recap

Marketing automation gives you the ability to put patients minds at ease by delivering what your patients need in the format they need it. Trigger-based communications or automatic post-diagnostic notes via text, email, or patient portal help reach patients in ways that are most attractive/convenient to them.

Without marketing automation, there’s no way to keep up with the sheer number of patients and where they are in the journey.

It’s a great way to support patient journeys, reinforce relationships, and continue building trust. In the end, marketing automation allows you to be exactly what your patients need you to be.

If you’re ready to take the next step in creating a better patient experience, Hileman can help. Give us a call or drop us a line and find out how easy it is to implement marketing automation into your business stream.

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