There’s a lot of talk in health care these days about patient satisfaction and patient engagement. And certainly, any successful medical practice needs to keep the people it serves front and center in its minds and marketing efforts. In a recent post, we discussed how service and satisfaction are “the new selling.” But before you can engage and satisfy patients, you need to get them in the door.
Attracting new patients is no longer a matter of placing an ad here and getting a referral there. The Internet has changed everything about how people research their health and find doctors. Reaching this new, tech-savvy patient population requires a multi-pronged approach that incorporates online efforts, positions you as an expert, and personalizes your practice. Read on to find out more about new ways to attract patients.
Become an expert source
The first step to attracting new patients is to be aware of what they want. A new survey reveals that many patients feel like they don’t have enough time with their doctors — in fact, the average patient visit lasts less than ten minutes. Patients counter that limited time in the exam room by seeking information outside the doctor’s office to feel more engaged in their own health. The survey found that 39 percent of patients have checked WebMD or another online source in advance of their appointment, and 68 percent of patients bring a list of questions for their doctor.
It makes sense, then, that if you are a source of quality online health information, you will attract patients seeking that info. You can do this in many ways: by offering patient education articles or videos on your web site and social media pages, by writing a blog, and by positioning yourself as an expert in your area of practice.
If you can find a timely, news-oriented angle — say, about how to protect your eyes in the summer — you can approach your local newspaper or TV station and volunteer to be a physician expert. They might publish an article you’ve written or offer to interview you for a related story or TV segment. Here’s an example of a cataract surgeon who has parlayed his expertise into several TV news appearances. Bonus: you can then use those video clips on your web site or play them in your waiting room to get even more reach from your efforts.
A personal approach puts patients at ease
You may have heard, “People do business with people they like.” This is also true for patients. Adding a personal touch and taking a storytelling approach to marketing your services can make a big difference in connecting with prospective patients.
An article in Modern Healthcare discusses how video is increasingly being used in place of traditional forms of advertising to open the doors of healthcare facilities and invite patients in. Dr. Howard Luks, an orthopedic surgeon in New York state, uses his website and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to reach both current and potential patients. He shares educational tweets and health advice, articles he’s written about topics in orthopedics, and videos of himself discussing common orthopedic injuries.
“A web presence humanizes your existence,” Luks told Modern Healthcare. “For patients, it eliminates those first few minutes of anxiety. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear from my patients, ‘You’re exactly like you were in your videos.’”
Here’s an example of an eye care practice that has incorporated that more human, personal aspect into their patient education by customizing informational videos with introductions and narration from their doctors. Not only does this provide free, high-quality information to prospective patients, but it also familiarizes them with the practice and the doctors before they make an appointment.
Give back to get more patients
There’s another, often-overlooked way for doctors to attract new patients while also giving back to their community: volunteer. “Target your volunteer efforts to attract the most relevant patients. If you’re a primary-care doctor, volunteer for a sports team at a local high school; if you’re an orthopedic surgeon, conduct safe exercise seminars at your local YMCA; if you’re an oncologist, attend nearby cancer walks,” suggests this article in Physicians Practice.
Eye care professionals might consider getting involved with New Eyes, a charitable organization that supplies glasses to the needy in the U.S. and abroad. Even being a sponsor for a relevant charity event or fundraiser is a way to get your name out there and show your community your willingness to help. And you may just attract some new patients in the process.
To find out more about boosting your practice’s patient engagement and education efforts through technology and video, contact us today.