If everything else about health care is changing, it makes sense that the way doctors market their practices should change as well. Gone are the days that an ad in the Yellow Pages was enough to bring patients through the door and keep them there.
Today’s practices are employing a wide range of marketing strategies, both online and offline, to differentiate themselves, increase value, attract new patients, and educate existing patients. Here’s a look at what successful practices are doing that others aren’t.
Patient satisfaction is the new selling
As health care becomes increasingly patient-centered and value-based, setting your practice apart from the competition can make the difference between success and failure. And often, the differentiator comes down to patient satisfaction and experience. As this post on 10 Habits of Marketing-Savvy Physicians puts it, “service and satisfaction are the new selling.”
While doctors must be careful to strike the right service-care balance, there is plenty your practice can do to improve or enhance your patients’ experience. You can start with the most basic (and free) steps like making eye contact and being respectful of patients’ time. From there, you will need to determine what patients want and give it to them: online appointment scheduling? iPads in the waiting room? Information they can take home and share with their families? To find out, you can simply ask patients, or you can conduct a survey. Be sure to check your online reviews, too.
For more information, see Secrets of Patient Engagement and Loyalty
Many practices have gotten great results with cloud-based software that enables them to meet many needs — from patient education to practice marketing — at the same time. These products also allow the practice to capitalize on the benefits of video, an increasingly important way to boost visibility online as well as educate and engage patients.
Your staff can be your best marketing tool
As the above-mentioned post on marketing-savvy physicians reminds us, no doctor can achieve a successful practice alone. Your success depends on the success of others, which is why it is so important to communicate with, recognize, and reward your staff. “When staff is engaged with — and understands — strategies and goals, they can contribute to achieving the vision,” writes post author Kathy Roy Gaughran.
It starts with hiring the right people, and extends to making sure your employees are trained to use your technology properly. That may include patient education videos, your practice’s website and social media pages, and your patient portal. After all, as this post points out, doctors aren’t always the best people to market their practices: “Convinced that they’ll mar their reputation as a scientist and medical professional, physicians can be notoriously wary about marketing their services. However, if a staffer or nurse simply frames the online services in the right way, patients will likely appreciate the information and use the services.”
And remember that even in the Internet Age, word-of-mouth is important. So knowledgeable, satisfied employees may be your best marketing tool.
Digital marketing is on the rise
Digital technology is becoming increasingly important in health care marketing. Studies have shown that 76 percent of consumers now use search engines to find local businesses. There are many medical practices, including this eye care practice, that report seeing significant results from online marketing and advertising versus traditional methods. Others have found that having a presence on social media has lucrative results for their practice.
This trend toward digital marketing means, among other things, that your website matters. It’s often prospective patients’ first impression of your practice. Make sure your contact info is featured prominently on every page, and don’t forget to optimize your website design for mobile users. Many practices don’t, and that mistake may be costing them countless patients who are searching for doctors on their iPads, tablets, and smartphones.
For more on this topic, see Are These Website Mistakes Costing You New Patients?
Another thing to consider is whether you are providing valuable educational content on your site. Could you provide a page of patients’ frequently asked questions? Could you offer a downloadable glossary of common eye conditions? Giving something away for free — like high-quality health information — can translate into marketing leads for your practice. Hey, if it worked for uber-successful rap artist Jay-Z, it can work for doctors.
“Innovate or die” is the mantra marketing-savvy doctors live by. Fortunately, technology makes it easier and more affordable than ever to keep up with the times. For quick tips on becoming a tech-savvy practice, download our checklist, “Six Ways to Build Your Tech-Savvy Practice.”
To find out how our interactive patient education can help your practice’s patient education efforts, get in touch with us today.