Nearly 60% of RealSelf consumers told us in a late-March survey that they’re interested in virtual appointments, and that’s just so far.
And during our recent RealSelf University webinar, where we shared strategies for how to market during a crisis, providers in attendance told us they were swiftly ramping up their adoption of virtual appointments. A mere sliver of those attendees (6%) were regularly conducting virtual appointments before the virus, but that proportion swelled to a supermajority (74%) who are now offering to meet virtually with current and potential patients.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, our team fast tracked the ability for doctors to let consumers know, directly on their profiles, that they’re taking virtual appointments. Now we’re quickly following up with a new profile feature and more ways for consumers to find and identify doctors who are making themselves available for virtual appointments during this time of physical distancing.
Here’s what you should know about how these new features and experiences work and what they entail.
1. The Fact That You Offer Virtual Appointments is One of the First Things Consumers Will See On Your Profile
Just how far consumers will be able to get with your practice during this crisis will be top-of-mind for those who are considering eventually having a procedure.
That’s why our team ensured that the fact that you offer virtual appointments, and more specific details about how your practice is operating during this time, are both positioned top-of-page. Both the “Virtual consultations accepted” callout and “COVID-19 update” banner arm consumers with crucial information about your current scope of service right at the outset.
2. Your Operating Plans Will Be Specific to Your Practice. That’s Why the New COVID-19 Banner Is Flexible.
Doctors are adapting their services in ways that are highly individualized to their practices. And given the fast-moving nature of these circumstances, many of your responses will likely change over time.
That’s why we decided to create a flexible “COVID-19 update” banner that gives you the space to enunciate your COVID-19 plans, change them on the fly, and even opt in and out of showcasing the new banner on a self-service basis. You’ll have 500 characters to spell out how your practice will interact with patients and consumers during the crisis.
3. And We’re Giving Consumers a Short-And-Sweet Overview of What to Expect
Our editorial team is creating helpful content that demystifies virtual appointments for consumers who aren’t familiar with how they work.
But we also wanted to provide consumers with an idea of what to expect directly from your profile page, so we added a tooltip to the virtual appointments callout to spell out the 1-2-3’s of how consumers will get from their RealSelf doctor search to a virtual appointment conversation with your office.
4. Consumers Can Soon Find and Identify Doctors Who Accept Virtual Appointments Before They Get to Your Profile
First we made it obvious to consumers that you offer virtual appointments, and easy for them to hear from you about what your COVID-19 operations will look like.
Next, we’re going to make it easy for consumers who are interested in virtual appointments to proactively search for doctors who are offering them, and/or easily identify those who do from a list of search results. We’re effecting this capability via a virtual appointments filter soon to come to our doctor finder page, and a virtual appointments doctor search module prominently placed right on our homepage.
5. We’re Making it Clear That Virtual Appointments Are Available at a Growing Scale
It’s important for potential patients to know that right now, virtual appointments are a new status quo.
In addition to the virtual appointments-driven homepage doctor search noted in the previous section, we’re going to make another simple-but-bold change to our homepage: updating one of the two primary homepage navigation options from “Book Your Doctor” to “Book a Virtual Consultation.”
We’ll also soon begin running ads throughout the RealSelf site experience promoting the availability of virtual appointments from members of our doctor community.
If you’re a RealSelf Network Member and are interested in letting consumers know that you’re offering virtual appointments, fill out this form to opt in, then visit your dashboard to add and modify your COVID-19 updates module. In the weeks to come, we’ll be rolling out the experiences above to promote virtual appointments overall and make doctors that are actively offering them easy to find.
How are you responding?
We’re in this together. Tell us how your practice is adapting in the wake of COVID-19 so that we can share best practices with everyone.