Imaging consumerism: How do patients choose services?

2021 05 18 18 24 0040 Nurse Doctor Patient Black Woman 400

Do you understand the effects patient consumerism is having on your imaging department? If you don't, it's time to investigate and apply what you learn to your department's operations.

Stefanie Manack.Stefanie Manack.

Over the last several years, healthcare marketing departments have worked hard to educate patients about the imaging's latest technological advances, its "best-in-class" equipment, and new and emerging therapies -- often emphasizing cost, convenience, and quality -- especially since patients have more access than ever to information on pricing, copays, and out-of-pocket expenses.

Cost, quality, and convenience are the known factors in a patient's decision process regarding where to seek imaging services, and they're important. Yet patients don't make consumer choices solely based on these, and healthcare organizations may be so focused on them that they miss addressing other drivers that are important to their potential patient population.

Judy Zakutny.Judy Zakutny.

It's important to consider that if your organization's competitors satisfy a potential consumer's requirements in a manner equal to yours, why should they choose your services? What other factors influence a potential consumer's choice?

The good news is that even though other factors that affect patients' imaging service choices may seem hidden, with a bit of effort your imaging department can uncover these, work with them, and attract more patients. After all, physicians engage in targeted outreach to garner business, and the same kinds of efforts can be directed toward imaging patients. What are you doing to cater to your market of informed consumers? What are some "unknowns" that might matter to your target audience? Here are some things to consider as you analyze your patients' concerns and needs:

  • Determine the patient's understanding of what's most important to them when shopping for imaging care. Is your imaging department focusing on patient priorities based on their perspective?
  • Peruse reviews on public websites such as Yelp and Google to learn what factors outside of cost, quality, and convenience influence patients' imaging service choices. This feedback can shed light on what consumers are saying, both positive and negative, and to help uncover what "unknowns" are important to them. Patient satisfaction surveys are important, but there is no substitute for direct patient feedback that surfaces in reviews, especially feedback that is not limited to measuring what you think matters to them -- or what matters to you.
  • Consider the specific motivations and values different demographic groups hold. One size does not fit all, and surveying a wide swath of consumers is a critical and simple first step. Create department-specific online surveys that go beyond the standard questions and conduct focus groups.

Imaging is a service industry. Patients understand that, and imaging departments need to have that same understanding. Do consumers have a perception of value and trust of your department as they define it? Learn the "unknown unknowns" that influence potential patients' consumer habits to become their imaging provider of choice.

Stefanie Manack is a radiologic technologist with more than 18 years of experience in the imaging industry. She currently serves as the Director of Operational Excellence at radiology image-processing firm 3DR Labs.

Judy Zakutny is a radiologic technologist with more than 35 years of experience in the imaging and healthcare information technology industries. She currently serves as the Director of Imaging Excellence at 3DR Labs.

The comments and observations expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of

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