By Jared Jost, vice president of marketing, PatientPop.
Of all the changes we’ve seen in the last century, the digital revolution has an excellent claim on being the most profound. As businesses of every stripe discover just what can be done within the rapidly evolving digital world, ongoing changes continue to shake up the landscape. This affects and benefits medical practices just like any other company or business, and several significant points have emerged that best illustrate how medical practices can take advantage of the changes that have given patients increased access and decision-making power.
1. Acknowledge this is the current world of patient demand
It would be easy for physicians to ignore the details and intricacies of the digital landscape, simply because they have a full schedule and a loyal patient base. Why change? Because patients are expecting digital access, and healthcare providers’ opportunities for acquisition and retention exist online.
A 2019 PatientPop survey found that three out of four people have gone online to find out about a doctor, a dentist, or care. Fifty-seven percent of patients do this with some level of regularity. Being present and available online is simply a matter of going where the patients are.
2. Attract patients the way any business attracts customers
As practice owners will tell you, a healthcare
practice is a healthcare business. Your patients are your customers, and
potential patients in your market are looking for you or your services online.
If you’re not easily found, your business could get lost.
That’s why having a strong web presence is crucial to your success. Not only does it position your practice to be found more readily online, but it also delivers a great first impression for patients unfamiliar with your practice. What are the best steps to get started?
- Claim and optimize your professional profile listings on websites that patients are most likely to visit. Make sure your information is clear and updated, starting with Google, Facebook, Yelp, and WebMD. Then move onto other business sites, especially those that cater to your local market.
- Modify and improve your presence. Once you’ve updated all your online profiles (at minimum, get your “NAP” right — name, address, phone number), get more detailed. Include your specialty, photos of your practice and staff, and details about the care services you deliver.
- Consider expanding social media. Your Facebook page and presence is essential for local business, but if you have the resources to go further, give it a try. Maybe Instagram. Twitter. YouTube. Think about using video, not just across social media channels, but on your own website. Make your content informative, and show prospective patients that you and your practice are welcoming and deliver top-notch care.
3. Simplify scheduling for patients and staff
One thing that kills online shopping is an
overly complex cart. If it’s tough to get the customer to conclude the sale,
that can mean lost revenue — and a lost customer. In online retail,
this is called “cart abandonment.” Similarly, if you don’t make it easy for an
interested website visitor to make an appointment with your practice, you lose
the opportunity at a new patient.
To encourage that appointment, feature online scheduling on your own website and across any third-party websites that offer it. In ideal situations, requests can integrate directly into your EHR’s scheduling system, per your rules and parameters.
Additionally, set up your mobile presence to allow click-to-call functions, so that mobile users can call you directly with one click. This makes for a convenient process and helps you better “convert” website visitors—mobile or otherwise—into patients.
4. Pay close attention to online reviews, both positive and negative
The 2019 PatientPop survey previously
referenced noted that when patients decide on a healthcare provider, patient
reviews are their most influential online source. Online reviews are one of
your greatest tools in drawing in new potential patients.
Make sure you monitor reviews across the web and when you find negative reviews—and they do happen to everyone—be ready to respond promptly and concisely. Tell any dissatisfied patient that you appreciate their feedback, want to address their concerns, and can speak with them directly to remedy the situation. You’ll show that patient, and any others reading the interaction, that you’re the kind of doctor who listens and responds to your patients.
5. Keep it simple
It can be tempting to quickly add new software
or service to meet an immediate need or tackle a business problem. But that
often requires adding more along the way —
to cover website management, SEO, online reputation management, blog
development — burdening your practice with
multiple tools and extra costs. Instead, look for an all-in-one offering that
can connect all the points of your web presence and online reputation in one
practice growth solution. You’ll get unified
insight into how well your efforts are performing, and a single point of contact
for your ongoing needs.
As the digital age continues to produce new and exciting developments, making these fit into your current operations will help produce the best chances at success going forward.