direct-to-patient marketing

Put yourself in your patient's shoes, really!

If you can honestly state that you always care about how your patients are feeling…you may not need this article. If you have been looking for ways to give your practice that extra human touch and make it the preferred patient choice…this article will change your life! 

direct-to-patient marketing

Put yourself in your patient’s shoes, really!

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

July 13, 2022

What it’s really like to be on the ‘patient journey’

patient journey

Medical marketing professionals easily use that word. The patient journey. An infographic, a leaflet, a web page and a scripted conversation at reception. But how often do you take the time to really dig deeper and analyse what happens on that journey? 

The patient: Sometimes I go in for another appointment and I really don’t know what to expect. It makes me nervous. In the lead-up to my consultation, I notice that I keep going back to my surgeon’s web pages, their socials and the reviews.

  • What are the typical uncertainties and big questions your patients have at each stage?
  • Do some stages generate more questions for each answer you think you are providing?
  • Is everyone on your team really patient when answering these questions?
  • Does the atmosphere invite patients to ask extra questions or do they sometimes feel their consultation time is up? 

Many of my customers create mindmaps of their patient’s journeys, independent of the niche they are in. From initial symptoms and online searches to conversations with GPs, all the way through to the moment they are making a decision about their preferred clinic or specialist.

The smart way to map your FAQs

medical questions

Does your body language give you away when you answer that question everyone asks? I know. I have witnessed doctors unable to hide despair when embarking on an answer they must have been giving 1,000s of times. 

It’s human to start feeling uncomfortable about the F in FAQs. So what is the smartest way to use these Frequently Asked Questions to your benefit?

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"Some practice managers organise a brainstorming session with the reception team and the surgeons. They gamify the process of listing the widest variety of frequently asked medical questions. Why? Because it gives them a unique database of common medical questions to work with to create unique patient education content."

The trick is to classify your most common medical questions into categories. Some questions are linked to the very first stages of a patient journey, others are typically asked at a later stage. As the specialist or surgeon, you are best placed to guide this process and help your team come up with questions they get in phone calls or emails. 

The elephant in the room: the patient’s emotions

bedside manners

Bedside manners. This might be the paragraph you feel inclined to skip. Please don’t. 

Here at Digital Practice, we clearly see that the personal stories we co-produce with our customers, whether it’s an outstanding “About Page” or a video, are the items that patients are looking for.

People who need a doctor are humans in the first place and what we all look for when we check out a doctor is trust, rapport and reassurance.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"As you put yourself in your patient’s shoes and engage in direct-to-patient marketing content, always make sure you include the emotive content. The questions that are perhaps rhetorical, are the ones that are asked between the lines. The questions about the patient’s emotions."

It’s easy to rationalise a career that focuses on surgical excellence. After all, the emotive component of our human reaction to a health concern is not the focus of Medical School.

Bedside manners are relevant – whether you focus on them or not. And if you are in private practice, you will soon notice that the main topic of your reviews and patient comments in the digital space are not about your qualifications or experience as a doctor. 

The assessment is often about how it all felt for the patient.

That is why our leading strategies include this emotional component. One thing is positioning your practice around what you deliver at a medical or surgical level. Being clear about why patients would choose you for your qualities as a person is another thing. That is probably a more modern definition of bedside manners.

The thing about elective: patients have a choice!

elective surgery marketing

Elective treatments and surgeries all have one thing in common: the patient can make choices at any time:

  • To have treatment or not
  • To go public or private
  • To use your services or your competitor’s

Direct-to-patient marketing is often seen as a commodity. A quick box to tick.
With regulations in regards to medical advertising, increasing levels of digital competition and increasing awareness on the patient’s side about choice and options, you can’t stay behind.

For your patient, the information search will always be linked to that basic emotion: Something needs attention and I want the best help I can get.

Elective surgery marketing done well will always start with the patient.
Not talking down to them from a pedestal, built on qualifications and status. Addressing their concerns from their perspective. That is why putting yourself in your patient’s shoes is an absolutely valuable exercise that leading doctors do on a regular basis. Either mentally, just as an exercise in awareness, or as part of specific business strategy sessions with an external expert.

Killing two birds with one stone: the Google gain

patient information

Offering additional info points to your current and future patients is gold, and when you bring in that additional mission to also cover the patient’s feelings and emotions, you are set to take your FAQ sections and your patient information strategy to a whole new level. 

Did you know that patient education content can also be used to create better organic Google rankings for your medical website? As a medical marketing agency, we have developed a unique methodology to do just that: organising your valuable information for patients so it attracts website visitors.

Check out our extensive SEO for doctors articles here in our Grow magazine or book a free strategy session to see live demos. The secret is to present your patient information in a format that feels normal to a patient, and as medical content experts and journalists, that is exactly what we do.

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strategy for doctors

A marketing strategy for doctors, specialists and surgeons always starts with an assessment of your business goals for the practice. Soon after that, we turn our attention to what your patients want. Beyond treatment, they want clarity and trust. Our content strategies can deliver that and I look forward to showing you some of our live demo materials in a 1:1 session so you can develop your practice and focus on what matters most. 

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