Ajay Prasad is the CEO of GMR Web Team, a full-service healthcare digital marketing agency focused on patient acquisition and retention.
American healthcare consumers are increasingly considering cost and quality when choosing healthcare providers. The driving forces behind this include the Affordable Care Act, which saddled many patients with large health insurance deductibles, the advent of new communication technologies and transparency of healthcare costs. These factors allow patients to take control of their own well-being and healthcare decisions, resulting in the transfer of decision-making and economic purchasing power from healthcare providers to the hands of patients.
Patients now look for the right mix of affordability and quality care. This means healthcare facilities can no longer afford to sit still and expect patients to flock to their practice. Instead, healthcare providers need to employ proactive strategies to increase retention and understand the patient experience. One such technique is patient sentiment analysis—something we help clients with.
Sentiment Analysis In Healthcare: An Overview
Sentiment analysis essentially refers to the process of identifying and extracting relevant information in source materials—in this case, to determine how patients feel about a healthcare provider. It uses a combination of machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and statistics to analyze the overall sentiment (positive, negative or neutral) expressed by a particular word, phrase or text. It also considers other parameters including feelings and emotions (angry, happy, sad), urgency (urgent or not urgent) and even intentions (not interested vs. interested). Healthcare practices can use this process to understand what patients expect, conduct social media sentiment analysis and gauge brand popularity.
How Sentiment Analysis Can Help Healthcare Practices Grow
In this age of healthcare consumerism, sentiment analysis can help healthcare practices grow in the following ways:
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• Identify Areas of Improvement
Many patients possess strong emotions about the quality of healthcare they receive. Almost all interactions between patients and healthcare providers trigger a reaction, which could be either positive, negative or neutral. Because of this, sentiment analysis in the healthcare space is indispensable, particularly in today’s social media-dominated world. In the U.S., 8 in 10 internet users search for health information online, and 74% of these people use social media.
Apart from analyzing social media and online reviews, patient feedback surveys can be a treasure trove of valuable information and insights. Using AI-based sentiment analysis tools, healthcare providers can easily classify patients’ comments and sentiments received through these surveys into various categories related to staff behavior, process, wait time and practice environment. This makes it easier for healthcare providers to identify opportunities for improving overall patient satisfaction.
• Bridge Communication Gaps With Patients
High-quality patient-provider communication is vital in the healthcare industry. Patients generally want to, among other things, access relevant information regarding their healthcare needs, schedule and reschedule doctors’ appointments and ask questions. By leveraging sentiments analysis, caregivers can uncover the real reasons behind healthcare-related frustrations among patients. It gives healthcare providers an in-depth understanding of patients’ perspectives.
The insights and information obtained by analyzing patients’ emotions and feelings and other relevant metrics enable healthcare providers to implement effective communication strategies. Commuting effectively improves patient encounters, leading to better business outcomes.
• Develop Effective Marketing Strategies
To create an effective healthcare marketing campaign, you need to understand your target audience’s pain points. This is something you can easily achieve with sentiment analysis. Monitoring online conversations and satisfaction surveys to learn what people say and feel about your practice will help you tailor your marketing message to resonate with your ideal patients. An effective marketing campaign can help save marketing dollars, improve customer relations, improve brand reputation, attract new patients and develop customized service offerings.
• Gain a Competitive Advantage
As mentioned above, sentiment analysis can help healthcare facilities improve their systems, departments and overall customer experience. In other words, it gives healthcare providers an edge over their competitors, especially the ones that do not leverage this process. In the era of healthcare consumerism, sentiment analysis helps provide invaluable insights including the type of treatments required, the service patients expect and the type of healthcare facilities they choose.
Leveraging Sentiment Analysis To Grow Healthcare Practices
Healthcare practices can employ sentiment analysis to improve clinical outcomes as well as increase growth. By utilizing this process, healthcare providers can gain insights into healthcare frustrations and difficult patient interactions. This information is crucial for improving patient satisfaction and patient experience, and, as we know, patients are demanding a high standard of care.
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Author: Ajay Prasad, Forbes Councils Member