The world is changing at a rapid pace, and the Internet is the catalyst. Progressive physicians are getting themselves acquainted with the online world and are more focused on customer experience and how they can differentiate themselves from other physicians. So, most of them are putting substantial efforts into marketing themselves online, not just from a clinical perspective but from the overall engagement perspective.
Until a few years ago, social media was nothing less than a mystery for physicians. For new patient inflow, the primary source was word-of-mouth referrals. But thanks to digitalization, there has been a 360-degree change in the way most businesses used to operate, the healthcare industry being no exception.
The world of the Internet and social media is teeming with competition. Physicians face a continuous challenge of distinguishing their online presence from the crowd of hundreds of others. The smart ones who understand the power of this influential medium have started using the Internet as a powerful marketing tool. It helps to identify your practice as a brand on the Internet, define what healthcare services you offer and market your communications more effectively to your patient/ potential patient base. Also, physicians can reach out to a targeted set of patients directly through the Internet and social media. Members of the medical community are increasingly tapping social media for sharing helpful medical information and providing patient care. Those who have embraced this change have experienced great help in keeping their appointment books full.
Let’s have a look at the reasons why physicians are reviving their marketing efforts
Ten years ago, it may have been a choice to market your products and services on the Internet. But now, it’s an absolute must in order to survive and thrive. The numbers are compelling and are just too large to be ignored. For the first quarter of 2015, Facebook users were about 1.44 billion, LinkedIn users were approximately 364 million and Twitter had about 236 million users. With these compelling numbers, do you really have a choice of not putting efforts into marketing your practice online?
Today’s healthcare consumers no longer accept blindly what a physician tells them. According a recent research by Pew Research Center, one in three American adults have gone online to figure out a medical condition. Patients have taken responsibility for their health and the decisions that affect it. Physicians are left with no option but to embrace this change and work out an effective Internet marketing strategy for their practice.
Increased online visibility
One of the most important reasons physicians need to have a strong online presence is that patients have too many choices these days. They need to be reminded constantly that your practice exists. The best way to reach your target patients is to reach them where they spend a good amount of their time, i.e. on the Internet.
Targeted exposure for your practice
Physicians can reach out to the segment of target patients via a strategically designed Internet marketing plan. For instance, a dermatologist can target the aging females for Botox surgery or face lifting packages through Facebook. You can use other Internet marketing tools such as organic SEO, forum marketing, social media marketing, group discussions, blogs, etc. to be visible to the target group of patients for your practice. Also, important information about any special consulting packages, discounts on lab tests, etc. can be communicated easily to the target population through Internet marketing.
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Digital content is key to the patient decision-making process
The Digital medium is a contemporary trend in the healthcare industry. And Internet searching will continue to play a significant role in the patient decision-making process.
According to Google Think, prior to booking an appointment:
- 77% of patients used search.
- 83% used hospital sites.
- 54% used health insurance company sites.
- 50% used health information sites.
- 26% used consumer-generated reviews.
Per Pew Internet
- 77% of online health seekers say they began their last session at a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.
- Another 13% say they began at a site that specializes in health information, like WebMD.
- The most commonly researched topics are specific diseases or conditions; treatments or procedures; and doctors or other health professionals.
These statistics imply that physicians need a strong website, a positive online reputation, robust social media and content strategy along with organic SEO to generate a competitive online presence.
Direct patient & potential patient communication
The Internet is the new channel for your brand’s voice. It enables you to market your practice to existing and prospective patients. When patients follow you on the Internet or social media, it is noticed by many other Internet users and helps develop a positive online reputation. Physicians can share their knowledge, expertise, breakthrough cases, new advancements in treatment of diseases and the latest technological developments in their area of specialization. It creates a sense of trust and credibility for physicians.
Internet marketing is therefore a great marketing opportunity, and the best part is that you can connect with people at a low cost. You just have to invest some time and the return on investment is definitely great!
Digital has become the new way we all connect and learn today. It’s imperative for physicians to understand that to have an influence on the patient decision-making process, they need to have a strong online presence, as it’s the place where perceptions and decisions are made. The healthcare industry is changing fast, so physicians just can’t afford to be complacent about traditional word-of-mouth referrals. If you don’t have a strong Internet marketing strategy, you’ll miss out on the opportunities the digital world provides.