The Changing Landscape of Integrative Care
Benefits of a Digitized Practice
It is 2018. Digital connectivity underscores nearly all societal interactions. There are more than 3.74 billion internet users in the world, 5.5 billion Google searches every day, and 2 billion active participants on Facebook. Social media and video viewing are the most popular online activities, and more than two-thirds of all digital screen time is spent on mobile devices.
When it comes to consumer purchasing patterns, 95% of Americans make online purchases at least once a year; 86% of women turn to social networks before making a purchase; and of all the purchases that occur through online marketplaces, 80% occur on Amazon. According to a 2017 report in the Nutrition Business Journal, 86% of patients purchase products on their initial visit with an integrative clinician, but the majority then switch to an outside vendor. The primary reason these patients cite for taking their business elsewhere? Convenience.
It may have been—even just 15 short years ago—that the prototypical patient of integrative medicine was choosing a doctor based on conversations with friends. They were also driving miles to the next town to purchase herbal remedies. Today those same patients are choosing a doctor based on Google Reviews. And they are ordering their herbs with a single click.
You meet your patients in the exam room, helping them move from a lifestyle of sickness to a lifestyle of health. By getting your practice ONLINE, you can meet your patients where they are before they meet you, after they leave your office, and on the days in between. This is an effective way to streamline your connection to your patients.
Digital engagement and integrative medicine
Clinical practice is a personal and interpersonal endeavor. For some of you, the hands-on therapies of acupuncture, manipulation, or massage are an integral part of your interaction with patients. For all of you, the face-to-face communication with patients sets the stage for an ongoing relationship, patient compliance, and (most importantly) patient success.
Podcasts, YouTube videos, blog posts, and email reminders to reorder supplements will never take the place of good, old-fashioned, bedside interactions in your office. Still, these digital forms of communication can complement your face-to-face meetings and create a sense of continuity between visits.
When you create digitized systems for your practice, your patients can receive email reminders to reorder before they run out of vitamins; they can log into their own patient portal to view their personalized recommendations; they can even receive a series of educational videos or articles related to their condition.
You may not know how to get these digitized systems in place, and it is true that setting up systems for digital engagement takes some up-front work. But dozens of tools have been developed to bring digital systems within reach—even for the least tech-savvy business owners. ›
Simple ways to digitize your practice
If you don’t have a website for your practice, that is where you should start. You can hire a web designer to do the work, but be sure they use a platform that is easy for you to learn and manage. Your website will be the home base for all of your other digital systems. Once you have a website in place, the internet is a great resource for adding enhancements. Choose just one system to implement at a time. Here are some places to start:
Electronic Health Records (EHR). Many EHR and practice management systems include tools for online scheduling, HIPAA-compliant form submission, and patient portals. If you have a small practice, look for a system that is priced by the number of patient visits per month.
Online Dispensary. When you link an online dispensary to your site, your patients get the convenience of ordering their supplements 24 hours per day. You are less likely to lose them to other markets, and you see a better bottom line. Be sure to check out how easy it is to get started with Emerson Ecologics’ online dispensary: Wellevate.
Automated Emails. Email offers a way for you to connect personally with patients between visits. You can set up series of emails to automatically send to patients depending on their condition. You can send emails to follow-up on patient visits or even to wish a happy birthday. Email automation requires some up-front work, but the payoff is a better connection with patients and better continuity of care.
Most importantly, do not try to do everything at once. If you try to get all systems in place at once, it will be overwhelming. Focus on mastering one digital system at a time. Tech tools and software are here to stay, and they only keep getting better.
Benefits of a digitized practice
When you begin to implement digitized systems in your practice, both you and your patients reap the benefits. Patients feel more connected to your practice. They can enjoy the convenience of online scheduling or online ordering of supplements. They are more likely to achieve successful outcomes because it is easier for them to comply with your recommendations. If you have an online dispensary, they benefit from the assurance that they are receiving the high-quality products that you recommend.
With the help of technology, more consumers are taking their health into their own hands. Their search for convenience and competitive pricing are helping inspire new technologies. When you take steps to show up in the digital landscape, you might see more new patients coming to your practice, more patients coming in for follow-up appointments, or a steadier income from supplement sales. Technology can help us all innovate to meet the ever-changing needs in personalized healthcare.
100+ Must-See Digital Marketing Research Statistics for 2018. Smart Insights Website. https://www.smartinsights.com/digital-marketing-strategy/100-must-see-marketing-stats/. Accessed February 6, 2018.
Internet Statistics and Facts 2017. Hosting Facts Website. https://hostingfacts.com/internet-facts-stats-2016/. Accessed February 6, 2018.
Nutrition Business Journal. Practitioner Channel Deep Dive. 2017