Google: healthcare’s travel agent?

The rise of internet use means that dentists need to be top of their game when it comes to online searches. Doctify explain how they can help.

Growing up there were five magic words that elicited a uniquely explosive reaction from me and my sister: ‘Kids, we’re going on holiday!’

What followed was a whirlwind of packing, arguing, repacking, driving, flying, landing and sighing – but, before any of that could happen, we had an important task to perform: speak to a travel agent.

Nowadays, travel agents are going the way of the bowling alley pinsetter (seriously, it was a thing), but as recently as the turn of the new millennium consulting a travel agent was a normal, even ritualistic part of going abroad.

All change

Fast-forward to 2018 and technology has changed the way we do everything, including travel, with the likes of Tripadvisor, Lonely Planet and Skyscanner meaning your average holidaymaker can put together a nifty itinerary of their own with ease.

Much the same as the travel industry, years of established practice in the healthcare sector are under assault by disruptive technology, raging socio-economic change and a resulting shift in patient behaviour. Last year, GK Group released a report entitled, A private choice: the changing face of the UK health market, in which GK Group’s CEO, Robin Grainger, said: ‘Private payment for healthcare services in the UK has quietly been on the rise.’ In the following paragraph Grainger’s colleague, and chairman of GK Group, Justin Ash, asserts that ‘GK is able to read the digital voice of consumers and has found a growing desire for access to private care.’1

The key phrase in this last quote is the digital voice; the technological footprint we leave behind whenever we pull out our phone to search the name of that half-remembered song, what time the film starts or, say, who your most highly-recommended, local orthodontist is.

What research says

According to a report published by London Research this year, ‘more than three-quarters of UK consumers (77%) regard customer reviews as ‘very important’ or ‘important’, while 74% attach the same level of importance to consumer ratings (ie scores or stars).’2

In January to March 2017, 2.2 million adults in the UK were asked about their views on NHS dentistry. Of the 808,000 respondents 125, 886, or 16%, cited private dentistry as a reason for not attempting to book an appointment with an NHS dentist in the previous two years.

‘Searches related [to] private pay on key specialities have increased by 63% since 2013, from 197,000 to 321,400, growing at a rate of 18%.’1 These statistics indicate a swift and significant upswing in the number of people turning to a search engine for answers, rather than a medical professional. This seems to be a concrete validation of both the increase in self-pay treatment searches and a migration to more immediately accessible care, as well as the notion that patients are becoming more tech-literate when it comes to managing their health. This is all without going into the very real, very immediate future in which patients will have more unfettered access to their medical records.

The internet has rapidly become the new word of mouth referee in healthcare, and I believe, especially as more millennials reach an age where seeking medical attention is more commonplace, this will only continue.

As a dentist, the key to keeping up with these new trends is ensuring when patients search your name on Google they are easily able to find relevant information and trusted patient reviews, all in one place – all online.

Hundreds of dental professionals have already partnered with Doctify to improve their online visibility and appearance, easily collect and publish patient testimonials and future-proof themselves against the evolving nature of healthcare, technology and patient behaviour.

If you would like to learn more, please get in touch: [email protected].




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