Healthcare practices are being forced to adopt digital tools by a new generation of patients.
Finances Online reports that nearly half of America’s population is made up of Gen Z and millennial. Their expectations for a better healthcare experience are driving many practices to modernize.
For this growing group of patients, repetitive paper forms, mailed billing statements, and long wait times at check in and checkout are not only a pain point; they also affect new patient acquisition and loyalty. NRC Health found that 80% of patients would change providers based on convenience alone.
Loyalty is built on providing a better experience and quality of care. Organizations must adapt to the healthcare consumerism trends by focusing on elements that make it easier to connect with patients, find them, and interact with them. Good news for practices that want to cater to a younger audience: Your staff will be able to take on less of the work required by digital solutions.
Let’s take a look at how practices can modernize to meet the needs of today’s patients.
Practices no longer attract patients by word-of-mouth. A recent Press Ganey study found that ratings and reviews are top factors when patients search for a doctor. This is another sign of consumerism. You can learn a lot about retailers. Patients are doing the exact same thing for their healthcare as they would for restaurant reservations on Yelp and hotel bookings on Tripadvisor.
Patients are shopping around for healthcare, so practices must prioritize their digital presence and demonstrate to potential patients how they will use modern tools in their healthcare journey. According to the study, Google is the most popular online resource for patients (78.1%) and 47.2% do their research by typing “near me”, the type of specialist or doctor they are looking for in the search box. Google even integrates appointment scheduling into its search results to help healthcare practitioners.
By making sure that their websites are current and search engine optimized, practices can attract new patients. You can keep patients happy once they are onboard.
Be responsible for the environment
Generation Z and millennials are concerned about the environment and consider it a top priority. A Deloitte study found that 60% of respondents are concerned that businesses will not prioritize climate change mitigation in the wake of the pandemic. Ending paper billing is one way practices can reduce their environmental footprint. This is a win-win situation as it improves patient experience and reduces waste, cost, and burden associated with mailing individual statements.
In 2021, the price of paper rose nearly 10% and many paper mills found a more profitable business than making paper reams. They started creating cardboard boxes for online retailers such as Amazon. Some practices were forced to move into the digital world because of the economics behind paper.
The U.S. Bank Healthcare Payments Insight Report 2021 shows that mailed billing statements have decreased by 16% compared to 2020. In 2021, new patient communication tools such as automated phone calls (10%) and online portals (9%) increased in popularity, along with text message notifications (8%) et mobile app notifications (6%)
Accept digital payments.
Patients prefer digital bills, just as they prefer digital payment options. According to U.S. Bank, 48% want their providers offer and support contactless payment for credit and debit cards. 31% want online money transfer services such as Zelle, PayPal, or Venmo. 26% want to use mobile wallets.
This trend extends far beyond healthcare. According to the Federal Reserve System‘s study, cash only accounts for 20% of all transactions. Credit (29%), and debit (29%) are the most popular methods of payment. According to the report, cash preference has declined from 27% in 2016 to 19% since 2016.
Digital money management is a popular choice for Gen Z and millennial patients. This is how they want to pay their care. Moreover, it reduces the stress on overburdened staff.
For healthcare professionals just starting out, the idea of going digital can seem daunting. However, there are good reasons to keep using those tools. As they continue to grow into the big proportion of patients.