Digital technology has changed the economics of the healthcare industry. People who used to seek opinions and rely on friends and family for word-of-mouth physician recommendations now read online reviews, compare healthcare services and prices on the Internet and discuss various treatment options via social-networking sites.
In today’s scenarios, the modus operandi in healthcare is no different than other businesses that operate in the digital world. Healthcare consumers are empowered by the Internet and make well-researched decisions for their health problems. The consumers go through a multi-stage journey while making up their mind to book an appointment with a physician. For physicians it’s a challenging task to market their practice in the vast and increasingly competitive digital world.
To attract new patients, to build a brand equity for your practice and to stand out among the competition, physicians have to be willing to move away from traditional medical marketing tactics and adopt a strategy for Internet marketing. Here are some reasons that physicians should consider while contemplating online marketing as an effective marketing solution to reach out to potential patients:
The Internet is where patients search for healthcare providers
A recent report by the National Research Corporation states, “Americans are ‘always on’: nearly nine in ten consumers (87 percent) access the Internet regularly (PEW American Life, 2014). Within the context of healthcare, two in five consumers (39 percent) (Market Insights consumer study, 2015) visited WebMD.com in the past year and one in five consumers (22 percent) stopped at a local hospital or health system website.” A recent study published in JAMA states, “One-third of consumers in the United States who consulted physician website ratings reported selecting and/or avoiding physicians because of these ratings.”
To cater to the needs of the “digitally empowered” healthcare consumers, physicians need to actively manage their digital footprints. Their online reputation is the governing factor for patient conversions, and it can mean the difference of a waiting room full or empty. A positive online reputation can be managed by having an active presence on physician-review websites and social media and maintaining a responsive mobile website that facilitates the user experience on mobile screens. An effective SEO strategy and other content marketing strategies are equally important to rank higher on local search engines and help get better online visibility.
Digital media is influential beyond doubt
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
The best part about putting efforts into Internet marketing is that it can help physicians target multiple demographics at the same time. For instance, a blog advising people to lead a healthy lifestyle by making general diet and lifestyle modifications to keep diseases at bay will generate interest in people having minor ailments and the ones suffering from chronic conditions. Similarly, advice on calorie intake for obese patients can be a matter of interest for other patients who are likely at a risk of being obese.
With digital marketing, physicians and healthcare providers have a unique opportunity to shape the general online perception about their practice. While engaging and communicating with people on various social media channels provide a platform for real-time conversations, it also helps to know what exactly the patient insights about your practice are. Properly responding to negative comments on review websites opens up channels of communication, and things can be taken under control before the negative sentiments spread like wild-fire.
It’s highly cost effective
If your goal is to grow your patient volume, build a positive online reputation and brand equity in a cost-effective way, digital marketing is the method. Americans are turning to the Internet like never before to make their health decisions and to self-diagnose their medical conditions. Digital and social media are considered high-value interactive platforms by industry experts as physician-patient communication is faster and easier. A well-balanced Internet marketing strategy has now become primarily significant for building relationships with patients.
Physicians who have understood this evolution are now carefully moving digital interactivity toward the center of their marketing strategies. If you still haven’t considered this option, it’s high time for you to strategically plan the course of your online marketing if you want to succeed. Internet marketing will help you stay competitive in your marketplace – and this is the key to attracting new patients to your practice. 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 online marketing unlocks doors for many opportunities where you can give them a welcoming invitation.