What will the new normal look like? How will patient behaviour change after Covid-19?
Apr 10, 2020
What is our new world going to look like? Will we go back to our “old normal”? If not, how will patient’s behaviour have changed and how will it affect your practice?
It’s a question I’ve been asked many times by practice owners in the past week and while I sit here in voluntary isolation, and crave the old normal, I can’t help but feel that our old normal will stay in the past because of the fundamental shifts that are happening.
While the optimist in me hopes that once these isolation restrictions are over that people will once again fill the restaurants and cafes, shop without hoarding, get back to the gym, cheer on the sidelines of kids sport, enjoy the wonders of travelling and rebook their appointments. Unfortunately, I think this is a naive view. The realist in me sees things differently.
We have two major crises working in parallel the health crisis and the economic crisis. Both of which will have a dramatic impact on your patients’ behaviours and internal pain points that drive their decision making.
So here are my predictions on patient behaviour post Covid-19 isolation.
I’ll start with the obvious:
- Patients will likely be far more price sensitive than what they’ve been in the recent past. It will range from extremely price sensitive for those who have lost jobs and livelihoods. But even those who are still employed will be more conservative and will likely hold back on spending.
- They’ve reassessed what’s important. Nothing like being forced to stay home indefinitely with plenty of time to contemplate things. This may translate to treatment plans that were previously accepted perhaps being rethought. Priorities will move up and down the list at a time like this. So be prepared for patients to change their mind.
- They’ll be more inclined support local small businesses. The bushfires situation certainly started this trend but the COVID crisis has cemented it as strong movement. If you ingrain your practice into the fabric of the local community and communicate this, you will gain their support and loyalty.
- They’ve had a lot of time to research. The internet has buckled under the surge in usage for a whole raft of reasons but one of which is that people have more time on their hands to research, shop around and reassess their options. This presents both a risk and an opportunity for your practice. The risk being that patient who may have felt some doubts about your practice, will be more inclined to find alternatives. The opportunity is for your practice to capture new patients who may be feeling those doubts about your competitors. But you’ll need to put marketing strategies in place to attract them.
- They’ve been forced to switch and try different things some of which, they’ll like and adopt as their new norm. A great example is Telehealth. When it’s so convenient and fulfils their need why go back to physical appointments for certain services. I would be looking to see how this would fit within your practice business model in the future.
- They’ll be more diligent with hygiene and will likely have higher expectations with regards to infection control procedures in practices. Whereas patients may not have questioned this in the past, they will likely question it in future and I would recommend addressing infection control in some of your communications with patients.
- The use of social media has increased with the 60+ age group particularly showing high rates of adoption to keep in touch with people during isolation. Having a social media strategy for your practice has been important for some time now, and it will be an even more important given this demographic of people are now using it more.
- Working from home will be more prevalent. Up until now, society has been adopting working from home arrangements in small positive increments, however with the forced social distancing, working from home has made a big leap ahead. Whilst workplaces will open up again and people will return to their city office blocks. Working from home will be more prevalent in the future. This is particularly good news for practices located in suburban areas where local residents often commute to city centres. There will be an opportunity to attract new patents from the local community who would have otherwise visited a practice in the city centres closer to their workplace.
So, while I hope that when these restrictions are lifted that you can switch the sign on your practice from closed to open and the patients will flock back. The reality of the situation is that you’ll likely need to work a lot harder from a marketing perspective to make that happen.