This year’s 24th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference, held on November 16-18, speakers gathered (virtually) to share their thoughts and opinions on how technology is changing the patient and physician relationship, how to grow digital engagement, and how patient experiences are shifting with telemedicine during COVID-19.

Here are 3 key sessions from the conference:

How Technology is Changing the Patient-Physician Relationship

Technology is currently evolving faster than ever before, and it is changing the way physicians interact with their patients. These technologies include telemedicine, health/fitness apps, and diagnostic tests powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

COVID-19 has certainly influenced current trends between the patient and physician relationship, with 50% of patients now getting treatment at home instead of going to their healthcare provider’s office. When it comes to communicating with healthcare providers, 60% of patients would rather use technology to communicate with healthcare providers and manage their conditions. Furthermore, over 44% of patients have started using new devices or apps to help manage their conditions.

“Patients are going to choose healthcare providers and systems that fit their needs, and we have to address how technology is going to play into that…” – Chief Medical Officer of WebMD, John Whyte, MD

It is predicted that the future of physician visits will be held remotely through chat bots. With the use of AI, patients will be able to ask common questions and seek treatment through chat bots.

So what does this all mean for healthcare marketing? Consumer behavior has changed in many ways over the last few years. These changes include a 20% decrease in TV viewership, a 30% increase in ecommerce, and 82% say TV, radio and social are no longer appropriate areas to market healthcare.

Further research shows that 80% of patients go online to make healthcare decisions, causing over 50% of ad spending to move towards digital within the next few years.

The One Thing That Will Grow your Digital Engagement

When it comes to growing digital engagement, many brands struggle to find the best strategy. It is important to know what works best in digital marketing and to find that game-changing strategy that drives brand advocacy and growth.

The first steps in finding the best strategy is to understand your “why” and to go through the process of elimination. When building your brand, it is also important that everyone in your organization is aligned with the same goals and are working in the same direction.

During the session, Daniel Cobb went over results from a study that he conducted for Michigan Medicine on what drives consumer engagement. The research from the study showed that 50-75% of the consumer brain focuses on emotion. Daniel divided the consumer’s brain into three different components including rational, emotional, and trust. The left side of the brain (30%) is the consumer’s rationality, the right side of their brain (70%) is made up of emotion, and the center of their brain is trust.

Michigan Medicine showed their consumers multiple video campaigns and tracked their emotional responses. The video campaigns made their consumers feel amazed, pride, trust, or loyalty. After the study, Michigan Medicine was able to identify how their consumers think when it comes to viewing different types of marketing content and helped form decisions when driving engagement.

COVID-19, Telemedicine and Digital Patient Experience

When seeking care, healthcare consumers first research online reviews and ratings, making the internet a platform where trust can either be built or destroyed between the consumers and their healthcare providers. During this session, the speakers discussed the drivers of patient loyalty, how physicians build trust with patients, and a framework to identify and develop content that attracts consumers with the goal to convert them to new patients.

The way patients are seeking and obtaining healthcare has certainly changed over the past year due to COVID-19. While some patients are still seeing their healthcare providers in-person, most are visiting their doctors virtually through telehealth. Not only has COVID-19 changed the way patients interact with their healthcare providers, but it also impacts the patient’s trust.

With the virus and the treatments still not completely understood, neither patients nor caregivers are sure that healthcare organizations can keep them safe. These fears have been exacerbated by concerns that suppliers of personal protective equipment, ventilators and ICU beds might not be adequate.

Results from an Advise Vanderbilt Patient survey showed that the highest concerns from people were the risks of getting sick from other patients, the cleanliness of the facilities, the risk of getting sick from clinic providers and staff, and the availability of proper protective equipment.

Ways that healthcare organizations can make patients feel safe are making sure that waiting room precautions are in place, patients are provided with face masks, patients and staff are screened, and that locations follow proper infection control.

When it comes to rebuilding trust, it is important for healthcare organizations to communicate with their audience the steps they are taking in order to keep their patients healthy and safe. Healthcare organizations can communicate to their audience digitally either through their website, email, or even through social media.


Sessions from the 24th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference touched on many important topics including, how technology is changing the patient and physician relationship, strategies to grow your digital engagement, and how to strengthen the patient experience.

With the on-set of COVID-19, brands need to stay up to date on the many evolving technologies that help fit their patient’s needs. It is important that healthcare organizations are adapting to their consumers when it comes to doctor visits, telehealth, and safety precautions.

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