How Technology Can Help Providers Better Understand Patients

April 4, 2017 by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME

Topics: Meaningful Use Stage 2, Practice Management, Medical Billing Company

For many of today’s top businesses, departmental functions such as marketing and sales have become highly data-driven and technologically savvy. With the help of sophisticated technology systems, those businesses can apply a laser focus on their customer base – understanding who their buyers and users are, what appeals to them, and how they interact with the brand or company.

Healthcare hasn’t been afforded the same opportunity, and there are many reasons why. For one, our space has never been as tech-powered as many other industries. For another, it’s not privy to the same kind of one-to-one marketing and sales relationships as other sectors. Why? Because aside from preventive measures, patients pursue care when they need it; they don’t ‘buy’ it as a commodity.

As our emerging era of “healthcare consumerism” continues, however, the relationship between providers and their patients is becoming more similar to that of traditional business-to-consumer companies. Patients are beginning to understand and access their healthcare options in a different manner than ever before – with a deeper awareness of costs, value, and availability than in previous eras of the U.S. healthcare industry.

In this shifting environment, medical practices are wise to seek out new ways to understand their patients as individuals and as shoppers, rather than solely as recipients of care and treatment. Technology is key to making that happen.

What kind of technology? The answer differs for every different kind of healthcare entity. For example, a very large practice or hospital may find it useful to leverage a customer relationship management (CRM) platform in order to track patient activity, spot trends, and monitor patient spending.

A smaller practice may not be ready for that kind of software investment (or that level of sophisticated analysis), yet can still cultivate patient-preference information into their approach by sending out digital surveys, reviewing insights from their appointment-reminder system, combing through the reports from their medical billing service, or assessing the analytics inside their EHR solution or practice management platform.

From there, a stronger focus on marketing the healthcare organization is key to reaching digitally savvy patient-consumers. It’s not just about your website, but that’s a highly important starting point: However you present your practice online, you should be able to understand how much traffic you receive, where it comes from, and what the visitors to your site are most drawn to.

Over time, that kind of information can even help your practice evolve its specialties to better meet the needs and interests of the patients that come to you. Regardless, with a sound website infrastructure in place, the opportunities to cultivate further insights (via social media, digital patient interaction, patient-to-patient referrals, and so on) grow substantially.

No matter your organization’s size, understanding your patients is key to your success in a new era of healthcare. Consider how incorporating new technologies and patient-savvy strategies can improve your ability to thrive.


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