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Why Content Is the Key to Opening Healthcare’s Digital Front Door – Part 1: Providers

Key and keyhole with light

The digital front door — namely, the technologies and strategies you use to engage with consumers at every stage of their journeys — had started to catch on with healthcare consumers even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, digital-focused consumers have come to expect the convenience and speed the concept promises. And they’ll go to other providers or healthcare disruptors if you don’t offer it.

But any door is only good for one thing: going through it . And your content strategy is the key consumers need to open your digital front door and take the next step with your healthcare organization.

In this series, my colleague Marlana Voerster and I will be talking about the critical role your content strategy plays in helping ensure a cohesive, conversion-focused experience for healthcare consumers:

  • This article, Part 1, focuses on the provider experience
  • Part 2 will focus on the payer (insurance) experience
  • Part 3 will focus on the experience for medical-device organizations

In each article, we’ll look at three reasons for having a cohesive content strategy in place as part of your digital front door efforts. These reasons are: emotional factors, rational factors and motivational factors.

Emotional: Your content lets you overcome consumers’ fear

Content for a healthcare provider organization must both inform and persuade the consumer. We’ll get into those below. But the very first thing you need to do with your content across all your platforms is overcome the consumer’s objections. For provider organizations, one of the main objections often is fear.

I’ve written about fear in healthcare content before. But it’s worth noting here too: A large segment of your consumer base is afraid of what you offer. Whether they’re afraid of a bad diagnosis, afraid of a difficult treatment or simply afraid of the doctor in general, virtually no other service category has to overcome a basic fear of the service with the consumer. It would be like telling someone with severe arachnophobia, “We’re the best provider of spiders that crawl all over your body, and here’s why.” You know what would happen: The consumer would close the browser window or app and run, not walk, away. (And maybe set the device on fire for good measure.)

But for people with fear of the doctor or fear of the healthcare process, that’s exactly what you have to do. So you need to take the time to understand and address the consumer’s concerns. You can counter their fear to some degree by leveraging consumers’ inherent trust in healthcare providers. A warm, supportive quote from a provider can go a long way toward alleviating consumers’ fears and setting expectations for the kind of care experience they can expect.

And, wherever logical, include information on your organization’s support systems. Let the consumer know how your team will be there for them throughout the process. Tell them how your team will work with them to achieve the best possible outcome.

It’s important to not overpromise here. You must be realistic, especially when you’re writing about life-threatening or other dangerous conditions. But take the time to understand what your consumers are afraid of. And let them know they don’t have to face those fears alone.

Rational: Your content is crucial for speaking to your value proposition

Many healthcare organizations, pressured by providers and department heads, flood their content with dense information about the conditions they treat and the treatments they offer. The thought is that they’re speaking to consumers who are motivated by rational, logical factors and are gathering information before deciding.

That’s the right idea but the wrong approach. Facts about what conditions are, their symptoms, what can treat them, etc., are not what healthcare consumers are gathering by the time they interact with your organization. By the time consumers get to you, they’ve already done preliminary research at WebMD, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, MedlinePlus or other informative outlets. The rational, logical consumer already has this information. If you present it again, you’re wasting their time and yours. And you’re lowering your chances of conversion by making the consumer slog through it all to get to what they want.

You’ll never beat these resources for informative content. And you shouldn’t try. But they’ve done you a great service. Because now you can focus on what the rational consumer really wants to know: why your organization is the right choice for this kind of care. Do you:

  • Get patients in to see you faster?
  • Have more providers or providers with more experience? (Strong provider profiles with easy-to-understand credentials can help you make this point.)
  • Have newer or better technology?
  • Have strong patient stories or case studies that showcase your good outcomes?
  • Offer this care in more locations or more convenient locations?
  • See more cases of this condition in your locations each year?

Your differentiators are what comprise your true value proposition as a healthcare provider organization. Yes, you should provide some basic definitions and explanations of unfamiliar medical terms. But those are table stakes. The real rational argument is what makes your organization better. And that’s what you should prioritize across your technologies and interactions.

Motivational: Your content must encourage the consumer to act

In most cases, consumers are not consuming your content for the sake of consuming it. No one’s going to your website or firing up your app for fun. They want to do something. Your content should use a strong call-to-action (CTA) strategy to help them do whatever they want to do and whatever you want them to do. And, ideally, those should be the same action.

Make sure you’ve aligned your content with your personas and journey maps at every step. Understand what the persona you’re targeting should want to do now that they’ve consumed this content. Can you offer them that action?

There may be organizational challenges related to conversion that you’ll need to address. For example, consumers often prefer direct appointment scheduling and other direct conversion paths over appointment-request forms and other indirect conversion options. You may not have the technology, bandwidth or political will in your organization to offer exactly what the consumer wants. That’s OK! Do the best you can with what you have now.

Conversion optimization is an iterative process. Always have an eye on your CTAs and how they’re performing across all your platforms. Do some A/B testing to see what works and what doesn’t. Make adjustments if you see conversions lagging in a particular area or platform. And continually work toward a better state in the future.

Unlock the power of your digital front door

We’ve helped healthcare provider organizations nationwide supercharge their content to align with their digital front door strategies. Our dedicated, experienced strategists know what it takes to create content that resonates, persuades and converts. Contact us to learn more.

And don’t miss Part 2 of this series. We’ll discuss the challenges and essential tasks involved with unlocking the digital front door for healthcare payers. See you then!

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Michael Adkins, Senior Content Strategist, Digital Health Strategy

As part of Perficient's Digital Health Strategy team, Michael partners with healthcare organizations to create informative, conversion-centered content for a variety of applications, including websites and blogs. Michael writes content that highlights clients’ service-line offerings, expertise in unique treatments, differentiators in competitive markets and additional factors that are important to patients.

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