Digital channels present new opportunities for physicians and patients. The healthcare industry has been slow in adapting to the change. There is a lot that can be learned from other industries about digital marketing strategies to spread online visibility, nurture a positive digital reputation, improve patient retention, increase your brand awareness and engage patients to improve satisfaction.
The widespread distribution of digital technology has proliferated in all industries across the globe and transformed the nature of healthcare marketing, as well. Healthcare services have undergone a paradigm shift through mobile apps, Internet consulting, social media, emails, custom websites and so on. Patients now extensively refer to social media and other digital platforms to manage health and make their health decisions after thorough analysis. For physicians, these channels are new prospects for patient engagement and communication.
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 such a change in scenarios, physicians are left with no option but to embrace this change.
Digital channels present new opportunities for physicians and patients. 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. 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.
Learning lessons: Analyze how other industries market themselves online
Many physicians find it difficult to cope with the change in marketing practices. They belong to a business segment where word-of-mouth referrals were enough to keep their practices running at an upswing. The fast-paced transformation of the healthcare industry to an online decision-making platform for patients has taken aback many physicians. Though they are adapting and channeling their efforts to tap the power of Internet marketing, the competition is at an all-time high. Tracking, analyzing and learning online marketing practices of other industries can be a good idea to begin.
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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 analyze 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 is high time you strategically plan the course of your online marketing plan if you want to succeed. Staying competitive in your marketplace is the key to attract 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 welcome invitation.