5 Healthcare Trends for 2021 — and How Marketers Can Capitalize With Call Tracking

Derek Andersen Copywriter, DialogTech

COVID-19 is causing radical shifts in the way patients engage with healthcare providers. To thrive in 2021, healthcare marketers need to anticipate future trends and adapt their strategies accordingly.

Below, I list some of the most important trends healthcare marketers will see in 2021, as well as how a call tracking solution can help you capitalize on them.

1. Healthcare Digital Ad Spending Will Increase

The healthcare industry makes up a significant portion of total US digital ad spend, and it has been steadily climbing over the past three years. In 2021, healthcare digital ad spending is projected to increase by 18%, reaching $11.25 billion. This will represent 6.9% of all US ad spending.

In addition, healthcare providers are allocating 57.5% of their total ad spend to mobile devices. This move comes in response to more patients engaging with healthcare providers on mobile devices (more on this later).

As the digital advertising landscape continues to become more competitive — and cost per lead continue to rise — healthcare marketers will face increasing pressure to prove their digital marketing ROI and optimize their spend to acquire more patients at a lower cost.

2. Healthcare Providers Will Receive Higher Call Volumes

Inbound phone calls to health systems are up 55% year-over-year and calls to healthcare providers are up 20% year-over-year in 2020. With in-person interactions limited by shelter-in-place orders, patients rely on the call channel to ask about COVID-19 safeguards, make inquiries about procedures, and schedule appointments.

Though lockdown restrictions have eased, many patients still restrict their in-person interactions due to safety concerns. Therefore, call volume will remain higher than it was during previous years, as patients will use this channel to get information and make appointments.

3. Telehealth Appointments Will Increase

Telehealth appointments have been increasing over the past few years. The COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated patient adoption. Some of the largest telehealth providers in the US reported a 60-80% increase in telemedicine appointments since the COVID-19 outbreak.

To adapt to this shift, healthcare marketers need to create seamless telehealth experiences for patients. You need to ensure the entire process of scheduling a telehealth appointment is frictionless, from finding information about telehealth on your website or IVR, to calling to schedule an appointment, to following up post-appointment. And you need to commit to these best practices in the long term, since 80% of patients are likely to have another virtual visit, even post COVID-19.

4. More Patients Will Engage With Healthcare Providers on Mobile Devices

For many years, patients have increased their mobile device usage to contact healthcare providers, download healthcare apps, and attend telehealth appointments. There has been an even more dramatic increase in mobile usage in 2020, as patients limit their in-person interactions with healthcare providers.

58% of smartphone users have downloaded a health app and 62% have used a smartphone to research a health condition. In addition, 85% of patients use their smartphones to contact their healthcare provider. As this channel continues to grow in popularity, healthcare marketers have shifted the majority of the advertising budget to target mobile device users.

Providing a seamless mobile experience — online and over the phone — will be critical for 2021.

5. Patients Will Demand Seamless Omnichannel Experiences

Going hand-in-hand with the last trend, healthcare patients will demand seamless omnichannel experiences across their entire journey. To earn their business, you’ll need to ensure they feel valued and known every step of the way.

83% of consumers say they require a positive experience to remain loyal to a brand — regardless of the channel they’re engaging on. If healthcare marketers fail to provide seamless experiences for patients, the stakes are high. 82% of consumers would switch providers as a result of a bad experience.

To get an edge over the competition in 2021, healthcare providers need to embrace personalization across channels. This means providing a seamless experience as patients transition from online research to phone calls to in-person interactions. For example, serving patients with web ads targeted to the service they researched on your site, or automatically routing their call to their nearest clinic location.

How Marketers Can Use Call Tracking to Capitalize on These Healthcare Trends

The trends above paint a bigger picture of how healthcare patient behavior is changing. In 2021, in-person interactions with healthcare providers will continue to be limited due to COVID-19, placing increased importance on the call channel.

With more patients researching online first and calling agents and locations to ask questions and make appointments, healthcare marketers need to have a strategy in place to ensure that they’re providing a seamless experience over the phone. As I mentioned above, expectations for the patient journey are at an all-time high — and this includes the call channel. Failing to deliver frictionless call experiences will cost you patients.

Understand the Marketing Sources Driving Your Most Valuable Phone Calls

HIPAA- and PCI-compliant call tracking and analytics solutions like DialogTech allow you to understand the webpages, marketing campaigns, and keywords driving not only the most calls — but the highest quality calls to your agents and locations. This allows you to optimize your marketing spend for the programs that are truly driving the most patients.

For instance, a certain elective surgery may be driving a high volume of calls to your locations. However, once you use a call tracking solution, you may discover many of these calls are not appointment-related — they’re billing issues. You could then decrease spend on this campaign, and instead allocate it to one that’s driving more appointment-related calls. This increases the overall revenue potential and quality of the calls coming into your phone lines.

Sample Report: See which marketing sources are driving the most appointment opportunity phone calls

Detect Issues Impacting Your Call Conversion Rates

Call tracking and analytics solutions like DialogTech help you create seamless call experiences that increase patient acquisition. They provide detailed reports on answer inbound call rates and call handling performance at each location or call center that you can use to detect patient experience issues.

Sample Report: See how your locations are handling the calls driven by your marketing

For example, you can see if your calls are going unanswered at specific locations and what days and times those unanswered calls occur. You can then diagnose if your marketing is sending calls to locations when they are closed or understaffed, and make adjustments.

View Transcriptions and Recordings to Understand What’s Happening on Calls

Call tracking and analytics platforms like DialogTech give you a searchable database of call recordings and transcriptions that you can tap into. This allows you to see what’s occurring on the inbound calls your marketing is driving to call centers and locations and use these insights to make optimizations that drive more appointment conversions.

If unconverted calls are an issue, you can analyze your recordings and transcriptions to see if your locations, call centers, and remote agents are saying the right things when patients call. You can then pinpoint any issues. For instance, are they accurately describing the safety precautions you’re enacting at your clinics? Are they failing to mention telehealth appointment options? You can then take steps to remedy them. In addition, you can share these recordings and transcriptions with your locations and/or call centers to use as coaching tools to improve performance.

Sample DialogTech call transcript

You can also use transcriptions to discover common caller questions and concerns — such as FAQs on telehealth appointments — and add them to your website and product pages to get more SEO visits and improve conversion rates.

Use IVRs and Dynamic Routing to Manage High Call Volumes

If you’re experiencing unmanageably high call volumes, you can also consider using your call tracking solution to set up an IVR (interactive voice response). You can configure an IVR to ask callers why they’re calling, route them to the best destination based on their responses, provide answers to common questions (such as FAQs about your COVID-19 precautions and telehealth appointments), and more.

You can also set up dynamic routing rules, in tandem with or independent of your IVRs. Below are several call routing configurations that can improve conversion rates for healthcare providers:

  • Route by time of call: Have calls forwarded to specific agents, locations, or IVRs based on your location hours.
  • Route by geographic location: Send callers to the best agents or provider locations based on where they’re calling from.
  • Route by service they’re interested in: Send callers to specific call center agents or locations based on the service they’re interested in.
  • Route by where they are in the patient journey: Send callers to a particular call center or provider location based on where they are in the funnel. For instance, are they looking to book an appointment over the phone or are they asking post-appointment questions like checking on test results?
  • Prioritize high-intent callers: For example, send callers who called from inside your appointment portal to the top of the queue so they’re answered right away.

Set up rules in DialogTech to route more calls to your highest-performing locations

To learn additional marketing strategies to drive more healthcare appointments, download our ebook, The Healthcare Marketing Handbook for New Patient Calls.

Want to learn more of the latest healthcare marketing trends and strategies? Check out our ebook, The New Patient Trends Impacting Healthcare Marketing Now.

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