Patient acquisition via word of mouth or walk-ins are nearly as antiquated as the midnight house call from the neighborhood pediatrician. Personalized outreach, search engine optimization, a regular cadence of new content and a focus on a holistic patient journey from pre-care to post-care are among the modern acquisition initiatives that are taking on greater importance. In the realm of patient acquisition today, it’s imperative to recognize that every single encounter holds immense importance, especially with the rise of competition spurred by the growing healthcare consumerism trend.
Why Explore Patient Acquisition?
The need for healthcare marketers to consider shifting their patient acquisition strategy is evidenced by a 44% decline in the usage of provider referrals and a 70% drop in insurance referrals since 2018, according to a doctor.com survey, “Customer Experience Trends in Healthcare.” Still, patient acquisition remains a top priority, with 90% of respondents in a State of Healthcare Marketing survey reporting that increasing patient volumes is a top goal.
Where Do We Fall Short?
Historically, providers prioritized creating loyalists over acquisition, often with the rationale that acquisition was 5X more expensive than retention, citing a well-known statistic. Cost aside, creating loyalists was also easier to accomplish for the simple fact that providers were dealing with known patients, and often in face-to-face encounters. And that gets to the heart of what makes acquisition challenging in the era of the dynamic healthcare consumer journey; how do we find and target an audience for a preventative screening, elective procedure or new movers campaign when the audience is exposed to so many more channels and options for care? Today’s continuously connected, always-on healthcare consumer has expectations for convenience and a personalized experience with every engagement, online or in-person. From the consumer’s perspective, the expectation for personalization exists even if it’s the first time they’re visiting a provider’s website.
The challenge for providers is to market to an audience of known and unknown patients to include first-touch personalization, recognizing that an addressable market exists outside of existing patient data in an EHR. What does this mean? Consider what happens when an unknown patient makes a first-time visit to the website. Does this person see static content, or based on the ongoing browsing session is content dynamically updated in real-time to personalize the experience based on the website behavior? Is the device ID saved to a unique master profile, and then attached to a name on the next visit, when the person fills out a form seeking education for a chronic condition or inquiring about an elective procedure?
What is the Sustainable Approach to Patient Acquisition?
- Using all available data sources is an important step for learning all there is to know about an addressable market. When a unique patient profile is continually updated, using persistent keys to construct a longitudinal view of the patient (or prospect’s) actions and behaviors over time, marketers begin to understand a patient as an individual. Marketers can then create and activate granular segments without any guesswork, patients and prospects dynamically move in and out of segments based on what the real-time profile indicates is important at the precise moment of engagement.
Is the patient seeking education about a chronic condition? A consultation with a specialist? Does the patient wish to do a lab test or to understand how to improve their overall wellbeing? By knowing everything there is to know about a patient, healthcare marketers will always be ready to deliver personalized content in the context of the individual patient journey.
- With high-value content at the ready, another key step is to deliver that content wherever a patient might possibly engage. The website and the provider office, yes, but engaging with a dynamic healthcare consumer requires engaging in the right channel at the right time. A mobile app, a self-service kiosk or electronic check-in, email or direct mail, pharmacy, an outpatient phone consult – all are opportunities to present a patient or prospect with a next-best action that will further acquisition objectives.
- An important distinction between delivering a multichannel vs. omnichannel experience is to recognize that the latter is what aligns with consumer expectations for a holistic healthcare experience. It’s possible, in other words, to deliver static content simply wherever a patient or prospect appears and still check the box for delivering a multichannel experience, but that experience often fails to account for a patient’s real-time healthcare journey. If a blast email is queued up to notify a segment that they are eligible for a preventative screening, is that email removed – up to the point it’s opened – if a new patient has just scheduled an appointment using the mobile app?
A hyper-personalized healthcare experience means engaging with a healthcare consumer not just in the right channel at the right time, but also engaging with a next-best action optimized for the channel of engagement, and optimized via a real-time decisioning engine for that specific moment of the healthcare journey.
- Accurate assessment of acquisition efforts enables optimization and increases value over time. When results of an acquisition campaign are fed back into segmentation models, marketers can test and learn, create new segments or dynamically update segments in real time based on the most up-to-date data and real time unified profile. A closed loop feedback cycle ensures continual optimization of a patient healthcare journey, both for a segment of one and at scale.
Patient Acquisition is a Balancing Act
When marketers are continuously primed to deliver a next-best action that aims to increase and optimize patient encounters, the line between patient acquisition and retention becomes blurred. That is, the definition of a new patient vs. an existing patient isn’t determined by how long it’s been since a patient has sought care, nor does it dictate the type or cadence of content you’re delivering (i.e. every patient we haven’t seen in 12 months receives an email to schedule an appointment). Rather, an updated patient profile with a longitudinal view of a patient’s behaviors, actions and preferences makes a new vs. existing category almost superfluous. The distinction does not matter to the patient; what’s important is that the patient receives the message, content or action that is perfectly timed to where they are in the healthcare journey.
Patient Acquisition with Redpoint rg1
The Redpoint rg1 customer data platform (CDP) powers patient acquisition initiatives by helping healthcare organizations transition from a doctor or clinic-centric model to a consumer/patient-centric model.
At its core, patient acquisition is about understanding an individual patient’s needs, and leveraging a deep understanding to guide a patient on the right care path. To match a new patient with the right provider, for example, it helps to know as much as you can about the patient. What language does the patient speak? Does the patient have a preferred gender for their doctor? What is the patient’s health condition? Social determinants of health?
rg1 drives a patient-centric approach by bringing all the data about the patient into the platform, including consumer data. This broadens the target pool for providers, allowing them to reach new patients while also staying relevant to the patient journey. Advanced identity resolution steps then create a real-time, unified view of the patient. By eliminating disparate siloes of patient and consumer data, providers know everything there is to know about a patient, and are empowered to guide a patient along the appropriate care path, tuned to an individual patient’s healthcare journey.
With a unified patient view, providers can better predict the likelihood of care for a specific diagnostic use case, for example, and can personalize the patient experience accordingly. rg1 helps connect the right patient with the right message at the right time – targeted, relevant, personalized and at scale, and all HIPAA compliant.