get more patients

Medical marketing: 5 strategies to drive more patients in 2022

The five strategies we cover in this article can be used to simply get more patients… or to fine-tune your private practice and do more of the specific work that you are good at. Or the work that means more business. Or the work that helps you build a leadership status.
get more patients

Medical marketing: 5 strategies to drive more patients in 2022

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

December 23, 2021

#1 Assess the online patient experience

get more patients and create optimal user experience

What does your patient go through when they embark on a journey to find your services? Doctors who take a moment to inspect that question usually get more patients. Why? Because healthcare consumers and patients have more choice than ever before. Gone are the days when we just picked the medical practice next door. Your medical website is your shop window. How clear, professional, compelling and inviting is it? When you assess the user experience, bear in mind that this is a normal consumer. Patients are not restricted to being patients only! They have typical consumer expectations and are used to using many other websites.

So when you assess your medical marketing presence, these would be the things to look at:

  • Are your contact details up to date? Is it really clear for the patient what locations you work at? Do your essential primary services, treatments or surgeries really pop out?
  • Are your images up to date? With the evaluation in digital imagery, one can often distinguish a reasonable recent photo from one that was taken a decade ago. But more importantly, if patients find dozens of other images online and the one on your website is 10 years older…it suggests that the content is not current.
  • Are the opening hours displayed on your website current? Bear in mind that they should also be consistent with your Google Business data. Check out this article about local SEO for doctors to make sure you get that right.
  • How fast or slow is your website? Do the pages load fast? Or does it take seconds to get to a page? This is something Google looks at when it decides how to rank you, but equally important, impatient patients will be unhappy patients who go elsewhere.

#2 Become an authority in your niche

medical leadership

You may have had a busy practice until now, and yet you start feeling the importance of digital simply because your competitors are all putting much effort into their medical websites and social media profiles.

This is basic public relations for doctors: It’s about making sure that enough people remember you when a topic is raised. For example, if a patient talks about the need for a rotator cuff surgery to a friend, wouldn’t it be great if that friend magically brought up your name, took their smartphone, then Googled you and showed your magnificent website to the friend-in-need-of-rotator-cuff-repair?

Becoming an authority does not happen overnight, but it’s within reach and the keyword is strategy. Building that authority can be a combination of three highly effective success habits you can start nurturing as a specialist doctor, or as a family physician with a particular interest in a niche:

  • List the media outlets in your catchment area and connect with journalists. When you have something to share, an eye-catching story or research that you can translate into layman’s terms, reach out to them and make use of this type of free advertising.
  • Use LinkedIn to connect with other doctors in your area, family physicians and general practitioners. By being active on LinkedIn, you are actually building relationships and if you make them into a two-way conversation, you will see your authority increase steadily until more referrals start flowing your way.
  • Optimise your online presence. Reaching out is one thing, your inbound traffic is important and it includes website visits from the general public and those potential referrers. Optimise your website so it meets the latest standards, works flawlessly and makes you pop up as often as possible in relevant Google searches.

#3 Form strategic partnerships

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Strategic partnerships are great for your practice because they create lasting effects. Now when we use the word strategic partnerships, it does not necessarily have to be a written contract you sign in the presence of your lawyer. These partnerships with other healthcare professionals are best described as relationships of trust.

  • LinkedIn connections: Just the habit of engaging in authentic, respectful and professional conversations with peers and other industry stakeholders, helps you make the most of your online network. Remember that when you comment on a topic, LinkedIn’s unique merit is that you are doing this with complete transparency simply because it comes straight from your professional profile.
  • General practitioners and family doctors: The current digital tools allow you to take it further than attending educational events: you can carry cards with QR codes that bring the general practitioner straight to a section on your website with educational content for peers. You can build partnerships by sharing your mobile or WhatsApp, or a dedicated email inbox that you prioritise. The old saying ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ is generally not the most productive way to look at these GP partnerships, simply because you can’t always refer back. Building a network of people you respect and truly support with your specialised expertise, is a more effective way to benefit from this type of partnerships.
  • Allied health professionals: Depending on your specialty you may find that partnering with allied health colleagues can be really beneficial. Setting up a series of information sessions together for example, or webinars that both partners share with their network. Allied health professionals are often closer to the patient because in some cases they were the first point of contact. Building a wide network helps you amplify word-of-mouth and grow your leadership status.

As powerful as digital has become, face-to-face relationships are still invaluable and if you have an opportunity to attend events, use them to bring the two worlds together. Chances are that after a few digital interactions, comments on LinkedIn for example, you will start the conversation with your potential next referrer at a higher level of rapport compared to what would happen in a random conversation at a networking event.

#4 Ask for patient feedback and implement recommendations

patient feedback

You may have a blind spot for things and that is perfectly fine. Most of us have them. Asking for honest feedback and really taking the time to assess it, is an amazing success habit for you as a doctor.

Ask the patient how they have experienced the communication, the way they were welcomed at reception, the clarity of the emails, the challenges they may have had with forms and procedures. The way their questions were answered, the way they felt acknowledged and treated as a whole person during consultations, the way their anxiety was dealt with.

Successful doctors often turn out to be the ones who get a little bit obsessed by the patient experience and who remember what the feedback was. You can then finetune your business around that and aim for amazing ongoing improvements such as:

  • Improving the clarity of all emails, forms and phone calls.
  • Creating infographics on your website on What To
  • Expect, so your team spends less time answering the same questions.
  • Adding videos to your online profile so patients get to know your vision, your approach and the essential research behind the treatment or procedure they are about to book.
  • Better bedside manners, basic interhuman communication skills and ways to make the patient feel cared for at all times. This may include additional training for your front desk team, your practice management team and…yourself.
  • Higher levels of holistic care: Beyond arranging treatment or a procedure, including steps and conversations about how the patient feels going through all this – this may be an opportunity to partner with a counsellor or a psychologist – see partnership tips above.

#5 Telehealth is here to stay

telehealth marketing

An important aspect of your customer service will be the level of telehealth options your practice is able to offer. Consumer trends and habits often follow a slow evolutionary path and I believe we can now all agree that the pandemic has forced a habit or two on all of us without asking if we were ready for it.

Having said that, marketing your telehealth capacities is now a failproof way to ensure your practice is seen as contemporary and up to standards. According to McKinsey, telehealth usage has now stabilised at 38 times the level it was used before the pandemic. From a rare phenomenon to a completely integrated service, in other words. Your future patients and prospects have accepted telehealth and may prefer private practices that offer the convenience of telehealth appointments.

So what is the pitfall here? At the start of what we can safely call the shift of the last two years, it was quite common to hear doctors state that they profoundly hated Zoom. There’s an interesting article here on the digital transformation in healthcare and on why we recommend nurturing a more neutral relationship with video calls and other telehealth trends.

The Australian Government recently decided to permanently fund telehealth video consultations and when we spoke with co-founder Dr Silvia Pfeiffer of Coviu.com, we understood why the telehealth solutions of the future such as Coviu are not just a variation to a quick FaceTime call with your patient:

  • They are designed for medical content – built around the confidentiality that is expected in both directions when a doctor speaks to a patient via video link.
  • They are designed to go beyond the video chat – the patient/clinician relationship requires a virtual waiting room and specific healthcare-related payment gateways such as Medicare.
  • They offer additional options such as a translator, to assist with the consultation if required.

Our two cents? Stay ahead of the game and be on the side of the innovators. Innovation and leadership often go hand in hand and the market forces that are at play in the field of telehealth are here to stay.

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