The widespread distribution of digital technology has revamped the healthcare industry. Healthcare services have undergone a paradigm shift through mobile apps, Internet consulting, social media, emails, custom websites and so on. These channels are new prospects for nurturing relationship with patients and nudging new leads.
The economics of healthcare has been transformed by changed pattern of demand by consumers. With the Affordable Care Act, the focus of healthcare services has shifted to provide patient-centric services. The demand for medical practitioners is growing due to many factors such as innovative insurance solutions, an aging population and increased awareness about health conditions. On the other hand, the competition among healthcare providers is intensifying with no let-up in sight. Physicians, dentists and hospitals are increasingly adapting to this seismic shift and are now moving away from relying on the traditional mode of marketing, i.e. word-of-mouth referrals, to carefully strategized digital marketing strategies.
This “tech-tonic” shift is offering new opportunities for physicians and patients. Patients no longer accept blindly what a physician tells them. Recent findings from Pew Internet and Google Think provide statistical evidence of the increased consumption and dependence of healthcare-related digital information. Per Pew research, about one in three American adults have gone online to figure out a medical condition and 72 percent of Internet users have looked online for health information within the past year. A Google Think key study states about 77 percent of patients used search prior to booking an appointment. These soaring numbers clearly demonstrate that patients have taken responsibility for their health and the decisions that affect it.
With these shifts, digital outreach is advancing to the position of becoming the most effective and economic way for physicians and hospitals to market their practice to healthcare consumers. There are more than 10 million newly insured Americans, who now refer to the Internet to make their health decisions. The situation clearly fosters a significant opportunity for physicians and hospitals to grow their business and loyal customer base. Tapping and targeting patients/potential patients through the Internet and social media requires strategic online marketing planning.
So, why should you market your practice?
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Today’s healthcare consumers are more informed than ever before. Through the Internet, they have better access to information and they leverage it to thoroughly analyse their options before zeroing in on one. It’s rather fair to say that patients are interested to book an appointment with a physician who has a positive online reputation and scores high on the 5-star ratings on physician-review websites. In today’s competitive waters, in order to swim to shore, physicians need to carefully strategize their online marketing plans. In the process, if the need arises, healthcare providers shouldn’t be afraid to embrace the marketing methods and online marketing strategies of other industries.
For physicians, dentists and other healthcare practitioners, social media marketing is now an essential “must-have” in their marketing strategy. It plays an indispensible role in connecting with patients and potential patients and helps develop a relationship of trust and credibility. To cater to healthcare’s digital decision-makers, physicians should focus on developing a strategy with an umbrella approach, i.e. to have a versatile digital presence through a website, blogs and social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on. The info-hungry consumers also check out patient reviews on various physician-review websites such as Yelp, RateMyMd, Healthgrades, Vitals, etc., so having an active profile on these will help build good relationships with patients and will also keep you aware of what is being said about you online.
By reaching out to the healthcare consumers online, physicians can create impactful communication channels that can drive patient decisions in their favor. Physicians now need to think like marketers to better understand and participate in digital conversations as these can directly impact their online brand perception and reputation.
It’s high time for you to strategically plan the course of your online marketing if you want to succeed. Staying competitive in your marketplace is the key to attracting new patients. Connecting with healthcare consumers means letting patients know that you are willing and able to care for them. Your positive online presence does make an impact on your digital reputation, the main prism through which patients see you. Patients are eager to find a true healthcare advocate for their healthcare needs, and healthcare marketing unlocks doors for many opportunities where you can give them a welcoming invitation.