Healthcare marketing is undergoing a wide-scale transformation. It will continue to evolve to become more customer-centric and insight-driven to deliver measurable performance. From the traditional word-of-mouth marketing approach, the dynamics are now shifting toward digital marketing.
The pressure on hospitals, physicians and healthcare providers has never been greater. Healthcare consumers, i.e. the patients, have now found new channels for information that are easily available at their fingertips. Gathering information via the Internet and social media has become embedded in our culture. Informed consumers, including payers and patients, garner information on the Internet to research potential providers. The various search engines employ user-created content on social media platforms, review sites, testimonials and blogs. Patients rely on the information they gather from these platforms and form opinions about visiting or not visiting a physician.
It’s said that in any business, reputation is everything, and the digital influences have become very powerful. For physicians, this can be a boon for their reputation if the words are positive. On the other hand, incorrect, fraudulent and biased views expressed on the Internet could have detrimental effects on your reputation and may affect your practice negatively.
Manage your online reputation
Your online reputation, practice website, social media and other digital channels are your brand advocates that provide a complete picture of your practice as a brand. When patients/potential patients search about you on various online platforms, they should have a crystal clear idea about the services offered, get a transparent picture about your practice and how your brand can help patients. Digital helps reach out to a potentially much larger audience that you may not be able to target by sitting at your desk.
The key to success involves flipping the traditional model by focusing on optimizing the digital platforms to develop an online visibility and a positive online reputation. To make the leap, you can follow the three-stage action plan:
Discover: Take stock of your current approach to marketing
To create a roadmap for the future, you first must know where you are today. In an insight-driven marketing world, this measure can help you identify opportunities for growth. Evaluate your present situation in light of new technology and other advancements.
Step 1: The foremost step in reputation management is to Google and figure out what is being said about you. The search results will provide a general view of your reputation and how you are perceived in the digital world. Once you navigate through the ranking pages, it will give a clear picture of your online reputation. Set up an email alert using some specific keywords like your name, your hospital’s name, your specialization, etc., so that you stay updated whenever someone posts about you.
Step 2: Moving forward, you should evaluate some of the top physician-review websites like yelp.com, vitals.com, healthgrades.com and social media channels (like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). A thorough analysis will help you identify what patients are saying about you.
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Step 1: Maintain an active online presence
Even if you are not active on the Internet, your reputation is. Physician-rating websites such as HealthGrades, RateMyMD, etc. are gaining popularity at an alarming rate. Create your profile on the major rating websites so that you are aware of what is being said about you on these platforms.
Step 2: Be “proactive,” not “reactive,” for negative reviews
The magnitude of impact these reviews have on customers is huge and can affect the overall success rating for any physician. Doctors need to realize the inevitable fact that there will always be some negative or critical reviews written about them. Dealing with the reviews optimistically opens up the lines of communication between the physician and the patients. Don’t fear a professional online interaction and figure out the “right way” to fight with negative online reviews.
Step 3: Reply instantaneously
Whenever there is any review/feedback, reply instantaneously. Active social engagement is a positive sign of building a good online reputation. You can flag negative reviews by signing up on Google, Facebook, Yelp etc. You’ll get an email each time someone writes a negative review. Address the comment publicly so that others can see that you are taking the issues and complaints seriously.
Physicians should take a positive approach when responding to these reviews and use them as building blocks to improve the patient experience and satisfaction. Some of the common online complaints may relate to issues like staff friendliness, availability of appointments, ease of scheduling, punctuality, attentiveness, listening skills of the physician, explanation of medical care/treatment, office cleanliness, lab services, follow-ups and bedside manner. Physicians can enhance the patient experience by taking appropriate steps to resolve these complaints.
Dealing with these cynical reviews and feedback optimistically will serve a better purpose in building a positive reputation.
Physicians who still haven’t embraced digital marketing will not only lag in their journey to growth and success but will face significant risks as they may lose out to the competition. Forward-thinking digital marketing approaches will provide tremendous opportunity to increase their online visibility, create brand equity, develop a positive online reputation – the key essentials to outperform competition and sustain consistent growth.