Digital Patients Are Different and Disruptive — and They’re Defining the Future

As a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, Brian Solis is an expert on the disruptive power of technology and how companies that embrace that change can excel in reaching today’s connected consumer. When he speaks — or more accurately writes about the subject as he recently did in “The State of Digital Transformation” — it’s definitely worth “listening” in.

Although digital transformation means different things to different people, the gist of it, says Solis, is that people’s digital behaviors differ from those of the customers who came before them. Their decision journeys begin long before they make contact with specific companies as they gather facts and generate impressions of brands via search, branded websites and social media. Companies that hope to engage with them must also embrace this digitally driven transformation, which Solis refers to as:

The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.

The only way to do that, of course, is to understand where those touchpoints are and how consumers connect the dots to create their own personal decision journeys. Mapping that journey — for example, by asking yourself, ‘what would my digital customer do?’ — is the first step toward accomplishing that goal.

The benefits to (healthcare) consumers are obvious: Doctors who recognize where their potential patients are and engage accordingly provide the information that a) addresses their concerns and b) gives them confidence that they’re making informed decisions. But the benefits work both ways. When asked to share the top 5 benefits they saw or anticipated as a result of formal digital transformation efforts, company responses included:

  • 75% said a lift in engagement
  • 63% said improved customer satisfaction (e.g., Net Promoter Score)
  • 53% said higher traffic
  • 49% said increased lead generation/sales
  • 46% said greater conversions

Unfortunately, too many companies still haven’t made the effort to map their potential customers’ personal journeys. According to the Altimeter report, just 25% of survey respondents said they had done so within the last year and had a clear understanding of new digital touch-points. Another 42% had updated digital touchpoints via social and mobile but hadn’t officially researched the digital customer journey. The rest were either talking about the need to do so, actively researching and waiting for results or operating under the belief that they don’t need to.

At RealSelf, we’d call that last one a major miscalculation. The decision journey aesthetic consumers take is often a long one, easily reset by new inputs and typically fraught with emotion. Doctors who don’t see the value of engaging with those potential patients along the way are far less likely to see them as real patients down the road.

The idea of customer experience is… evolving. The gift of empathy that results from recognizing and appreciating the digital customer leads to innovation in every touchpoint and also every “moment of truth.” Thus, digital transformation becomes a catalyst for re-imagining the overall customer experience.

Doctor Takeaway

The patient decision journey provides a great roadmap for doctors

Understanding the path aesthetic consumers follow when considering procedures and providers offers two key benefits to doctors: In addition to providing insights into patients’ mindsets, mapping their journeys will also help you plan your marketing efforts to determine which platforms and channels will deliver the best results.Ultimately, it all boils down to tweaking the question referenced above to read: What would my digital patient do and what am I going to do to help her?

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including, and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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