The COVID-19 crisis is changing how patients receive medical care. With the coronavirus straining resources and lowering in-person visits, medical practices and hospitals are looking for alternative ways to diagnose and treat patients.
Telehealth, or delivering care to patients remotely via video, is gaining traction, as it complies with social distancing measures. In addition, it allocates resources more effectively, allowing underleveraged doctors in less affected areas to service patients from across the country. The largest telehealth services in the US are reporting a 60-80% increase in telemedicine appointments since the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Most Successful Healthcare Marketers Optimize the End-to-End Patient Journey — and that Includes Telemedicine
As a marketer, the patient appointment, acquisition, and retention experience falls under your jurisdiction, and this now includes helping your practice or business deliver a frictionless telehealth experience, end-to-end. The stakes are high — providing a smooth experience during this crisis will help you build stronger relationships with your patients and earn their loyalty. If you don’t adjust your services during this time, you can lose your patients to other networks. A recent study found that over half of healthcare patients will change their provider to get better service.
Inbound calls play a critical role in the telemedicine journey, as patients often call to inquire about telemedicine services or arrange virtual appointments. In fact, our research found that since the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a 53% increase in calls to telehealth providers.
In the post below, we’ll break down how marketers are using HIPAA-compliant call tracking and analytics solutions like DialogTech to increase awareness of their telemedicine services, better allocate ad spend for digital promotion of these services, and provide frictionless experiences that drive patient loyalty.
1. Market Planning: Understand What Telehealth Questions Callers Are Asking Over the Phone
Telehealth during the COVID-19 crisis represents uncharted territory for many healthcare providers. Many have not set up telemedicine or have small, fledgling programs. And even those with more robust telemedicine programs are feeling the strain from an influx of new patients and appointment requests.
No matter the maturity of your telehealth offerings, gaining additional insights about your patients and their demand for your telemedicine services can help you shape your strategy. To capture these insights, some healthcare marketers are using the first-party conversation intelligence available from inbound phone calls. They are running searches through the calls to their practices or call center to find those where terms like “telehealth,” “telemedicine,” and “virtual visit” were discussed and to understand the increase in interest. They are then diving into the recordings and transcriptions of those calls to see the questions callers are asking about telehealth services and the reasons why they want it. If you’re considering expanding your offerings, you can use these insights to inform your pivot.
DialogTech identifies conversations where telehealth phrases are used
You can use recordings and transcriptions to identify the specific areas of telemedicine your patients are the most interested in — for example, remote patient monitoring, online follow-ups, or medication refills. Not only can call tracking and analytics solutions flag when your patients mention these services, but they can also identify which of the mentions are from new patients, which result in an appointment being booked, and which fail to convert.
Another common use case for capturing these commonly used telehealth questions is to update your telehealth webpages and FAQs to answer them. This will help you ensure that your online presence is tailored to what your patients care about. This can help generate more online conversions, free up your phone lines — which, due to COVID-19, are likely overloaded — and even help SEO rankings. If people are voicing these queries over the phone, they’re likely typing them in search engines, too.
2. Marketing Attribution: Track Appointment Calls Driven by Telehealth Ads and Landing Pages
During the COVID-19 crisis, many healthcare marketers are pivoting quickly to build and deploy telehealth ads. For healthcare practices that have just launched a telehealth program, these digital ads are critical to inform patients of your new offering. For practices that have long had telehealth programs, these ads are still important — many patients haven’t used this service before, and it’s still new to them. However you’re investing budget in telemedicine ads, you need to be able to prove your ROI.
While marketers evaluate the online results of their digital advertising campaigns, call conversions are often a blind spot. To understand the full number of appointments driven by their digital ads both online and over the phone, marketers use call tracking.
DialogTech attributes calls to the marketing source that drove them, down to the keyword level
With call tracking and analytics, telehealth marketers can connect the dots between their channels, ads, keywords, campaigns, and landing pages and the calls they drive. They can then allocate their spend to the telemedicine digital ad campaigns that are driving the most appointments, new patients, and value.
In addition, marketers can gain visibility into how well their landing pages are driving telehealth appointments. If certain pages are performing well, they can drive more traffic to them. They can also measure the effectiveness of optimizations they make based on heat maps, customer journey mapping tools, and the caller questions and language identified by conversation intelligence.
3. Call Management: Have Telehealth Callers Self-Route with IVRs
Regardless of if telehealth is new for your practice or is a standard offering, it will be top-of-mind for many patients who are seeking care in the COVID-19 crisis. As a marketer, you should ensure their call experience is as seamless as possible. An easy way to do this is to put an IVR (interactive voice response) prompt about telemedicine front and center.
Traditionally, IVRs require IT assistance for implementation, making them cumbersome for marketers to rapidly deploy and adapt to the current business environment. This is why marketers are turning to self-serve IVR technology like DialogTech’s, which has a simple interface that anyone can use to easily create, customize, and deploy any number of IVRs in minutes without any assistance from IT.
Set up a telemedicine-specific prompt in your self-serve IVR
Once telehealth information is set up as the first prompt in your IVR, your patients will be able to easily follow the proper channels to schedule an appointment, rather than bogging down your other agents. The queue can be customized to your unique needs and telemedicine procedures — you can send them to a special hotline to schedule a telehealth appointment, you can ask them to make an appointment on a specific website page, or you can send them through a queue of subsequent questions that will narrow down their specific telehealth needs and route them accordingly.
Not only do IVRs free up your agents by allowing callers to self-route, they also allow you to track the number of times the queues are selected. You’ll be able to pull data about the number of virtual appointments callers are scheduling over the phone and, depending on the complexity of your IVR queues, the number of teams each type of telemedicine of service was requested.
4. Reduce No-Shows: Use Voice or SMS Broadcasting to Send Telehealth Appointment Reminders
To increase patient attendance at telehealth appointments, marketers are broadcasting voice reminders to their patients. DialogTech is the only call tracking and analytics provider that enables you to to easily create and schedule your own automated voice notifications — uploading your voice message and setting up your desired audience with no assistance from IT.
Set up voice broadcasts for telehealth appointment reminders
In addition, you can use voice broadcasting to provide on-the-fly updates to your patients about their appointments. If one of your locations becomes overcrowded or needs to close for any reason, you can send a voice broadcast to notify patients of the issue and ask them to schedule a telemedicine appointment instead.
We’re Here to Support You
As the COVID-19 crisis keeps evolving, we’ll continue to share these trends, findings, and any other resources to help you adapt to this new business landscape. Learn more about how we’re supporting our customers during this challenging time.
To learn marketing strategies that can help you navigate these uncertain times, download our Healthcare Marketing Playbook for Inbound Calls During COVID-19.
To learn marketing strategies that can help you navigate these uncertain times, download our Healthcare Marketing Playbook for Inbound Calls During COVID-19.Download My eBook