As more consumers search for health advice online, here are four proven ways to connect with your cardiology prospects during the patient journey.
According to the Pew Research Center, over 70 percent of internet users in America have searched the web for health information—and nearly 9 in 10 of them are seeking information on a diagnosis or condition. Heart-related issues account for a significant percentage of these searches; in fact, in 2017 at least three of the top 10 health-related searches were related to cardiac conditions—including queries on blood pressure and cholesterol.
This search volume reflects the demand for heart-related information—and lack of familiarity with this critical issue. According to the 2017 Cleveland Clinic Heart Health Survey, about half (49%) of the population know nothing at all or only a little about their personal heart health. With so much health information available to digital-savvy consumers, it’s important for your organization to offer more than in-person educational opportunities for local patients with healthcare questions.
Connecting Beyond Community Events
Market leaders are engaging consumers online with relevant content and resources that are easily accessible, helpful and tailored to the audience in ways that other organizations simply can’t offer—especially during special events such as Heart Month.
“As technology increases on the patient side of health care, information needs to be both relevant and purposeful,” says Sarah Fredriksson, managing editor at True North Custom. “People aren't searching for broad terms like ‘heart disease’ or ‘lung cancer.‘ They're searching for their everyday problems. Taking that information and using it in a way that propels people toward seeking professional advice is key.”
For example, while consumers can easily find a wealth of health information regarding cholesterol and blood pressure guidelines online, it may be difficult for them to parse through data and understand what concrete steps they can take to better their heart health.
Consider the following suggestions to help guide consumers to the resources they need before they wind up in a downward spiral of self-diagnoses and health scares that may turn them away from much-needed care.
Health Risk Assessments
A simple online heart health risk assessment can help your audience understand if they’re at risk for conditions such as heart disease or stroke. Gathering recommendations from physicians or including them in the creation of assessments can help ensure you’re asking the right questions. Assessments can also provide recommendations to consumers based on their answers, including lifestyle changes they can make to improve their heart health or ways to set up appointments with physicians.
These health assessments can live on your organization’s website and can also be featured in emails, online advertisements and social media. If consumers are willing to take short quizzes to determine their spirit animal on Facebook, they might also be willing to spend a few minutes to determine where their heart health stands and what they can do about it.
“People want to interact with relevant information,” Fredriksson says. “They want some sort of autonomy in the beginning of their healthcare journey, and creating content that allows people to assess themselves from the start helps to establish a trusting relationship between patient and provider.”
Health Hubs and Patient Guides
Patients who are already aware of their heart health risks may benefit from a central information hub that provides up-to-date recommendations and guidelines from institutions such as the American Heart Association or American College of Cardiology. In just the past year, these institutions have updated guidelines for diagnosing and treating both high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Rather than depending on news reports and press releases, your consumers can find the information they need on your organization’s website. Social media accounts, email notifications and newsletters can also keep them informed whenever the hub is updated.
In addition, results from online health risk assessments or in-person doctors’ visits can allow you to provide personalized patient guides for certain heart conditions in both physical and digital formats. Digital versions can include clickable links, videos and other interactive additions that can help set them apart from paper brochures and handouts.
Community seminars that cover topics such as heart-healthy lifestyle tips or heart attack prevention are perfect for some members of your audience, but they may not be convenient for every consumer that you’re trying to reach.
Rather than rely on these one-time events to spread your message, you might consider filming and broadcasting these informational sessions as online webinars that can be accessed live or after the event is over through your organization’s health hub. These recordings can also be shared via social media and email newsletters.
“Not all facilities are easily accessible to everyone, especially in rural areas,” Fredriksson says. “Making seminars and healthcare information in general available digitally can reach more people—perhaps those who need it most—and encourage them to take the next step. Having a library of content also helps to position you as an authority on any particular subject.”
While email may be one of the oldest forms of communication on the internet, it is still one of the most effective ways to ensure your audience is receiving updates regarding your hospital or healthcare system. Crafting emails that provide useful information and links based on your consumers’ needs can help improve your outreach and click-through rates.
For example, you could offer multiple newsletter series that your audience can opt in or out of, depending on their preferences. A healthy living series may be appropriate for heart attack survivors who are interested in preventing a second attack or for consumers with a family history of heart disease.
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