The Evolution of Search & Online Scheduling for Healthcare

June 23, 2022 | Stericycle Communication Solutions

Why Search is the New Digital Front Door for Healthcare Providers

As consumers, we’re accustomed to researching information and finding products and services online at our convenience. That same mindset is true for healthcare consumers in today’s evolving healthcare market. Surveys show that an increasing number of healthcare consumers are using online resources to find a doctor, view appointment availability, and book an appointment online at any time of the day or night.

Download the Definitive Guide to Marketing Online Scheduling & Check-In for detailed ways to maximize the promotion of your online scheduling  capability.

Taking online healthcare scheduling to a new level

Rather than first going to a hospital or clinic website, many healthcare consumers now seek the same convenience to make appointments that they’ve come to expect when finding all types of products and services online – starting with a search engine.

In fact, research conducted by Press Ganey in 2021 shows that search engines are the most used digital resource when patients are looking for a new provider, cited by 65% of respondents to their study. This trend has been growing over the past few years. According to data from Yext, an AI search company and Stericycle partner, in 2021, 71% of healthcare consumers used a search engine as their first stop for making a doctor appointment, an increase of 39% compared to 2016.

hospital website appointments

Only 7% of health consumers went first to a hospital website to make an appointment in 2021, compared to 44% in 2016.

(source: Press Ganey 2021)

Online Scheduling with Yext and Stericycle

Stericycle Communication Solutions has partnered with Yext to provide advanced natural language processing (NLP) to help patients:

Search for doctors

Locate specialists

Identify medical conditions

Patients receive personalized recommendations directly in the search results, with easy options to book an appointment through Stericycle’s online scheduling platform.

Yext’s search capabilities are available to Stericycle’s healthcare partners. This solution helps consumers find accurate answers to commonly asked healthcare queries. When they type a question in the website search function, the answers are drawn from the provider’s content and data.

Large hospital systems are seeing improvements in patient satisfaction by using these advanced technologies together to offer patients search and online scheduling functions.

Have online scheduling for healthcare? Don’t keep it a secret

Let everyone who visits your organization’s website via online search know that you offer online scheduling for appointments. You can do that on pages throughout your website, of course, with a link to the scheduling function. You can also promote it via your social media channels and as part of other patient outreach strategies such as email and SMS/text message campaigns.

Just as importantly, inform employees across your organization about the availability of online scheduling through all your internal communication channels. Your employees are among your best brand ambassadors; encourage them to tell their family and friends.

Furthermore, it’s just as crucial to leave a good impression with patients in person as it is online. This means that providers should prioritize reputation management by monitoring online activity and responding to reviews (both positive and negative in nature) to ensure they set themselves apart from other providers online.

By responding to an online review and offering a solution, a prospective patient will see the lengths a provider takes to ensure the patient has a positive healthcare experience under their care.

Engaging patients beyond the appointment

Patient engagement is crucial for hospitals and other medical providers, and engagement does not stop at the appointment. It continues with digital communication in the form of reminders and information patients need to know about their visit.  Follow-up messages are also key to keeping patients on their healthcare journey.

Meeting healthcare consumer preferences

Healthcare organizations that are responsive to trends in patients’ online searches and scheduling preferences will be a step ahead in fostering engagement and increasing patient satisfaction. Stericycle Communication Solutions is leading the way in helping our partner healthcare organizations attract and engage patients with a comprehensive array of capabilities that meet patients where they are.

Download our Definitive Guide to Marketing Online Scheduling & Check-In. Download Now.

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