google business messages for doctors

Is your practice ready for Google Business Messages?

With Google Business messages, your practice team can start chatting with a patient from the moment they find you on Google Maps or through your Google Business profile. As you will see, you can use this feature to drive more patients to your practice. 

google business messages for doctors

Is your practice ready for Google Business Messages?

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

January 13, 2022

What are Google Business messages?

best practices medical marketing

Google Business is the profile that represents your private practice with Google. It’s not your website, but an account with Google that you can claim and customise. Hold on, why do I have to claim it? Sometimes Google just lists your business because it knows you exist, and until you formally claim the Google Business account you have virtually no control over it. We have an excellent article here on making your Google business setup future-proof if you haven’t done it yet.

The messages function within Google Business is basically an option for your patients to start a conversation from Google Business or from Google Maps. Next to the other typical buttons on your Google Business profile, you will now find a chat option.

Patients who first see your Google Business profile, not your website, can now send a quick question to the chatbox. The chat option is also available when someone finds your practice via Google Maps.

If your reception team has the capacity to monitor these incoming messages and to guarantee prompt response times, it opens a new avenue to show that you offer great service.

Why would you allow patients to contact you more often?

customer service for doctors

Your first reaction might be to dismiss the idea of patients contacting you through even more channels. After all, you have your practice phone line, referrals are coming in through a good old fax machine in some cases, and you might think that the more you manage to shield off your practice from yet another way to contact you, the more peace of mind you and your team will have.

The ever-expanding use of digital by most consumers is a reason to reinspect this. We know that convenience is increasingly important for patients when they look around for healthcare services.

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

"In the phase when patients are shopping around searching for a specialist doctor or a surgeon, responsiveness is a critical factor. If you engage in a conversation you might convert more patient leads than your competitors."

The easier it is to ask a quick question, to get in touch and get a response, the higher the likelihood that a patient feels comfortable, heard and acknowledged. Of course the results you can expect from this tool depend on the way you configure it and the way your team handles the incoming conversations.

How to use this in your practice?

how to use google business messages

The messages live in your Google Business account and one way to monitor them is to have a smartphone at reception (in case your reception team has an ‘on-call’ mobile phone) with the Google Business app. You can then switch on the notifications and see whenever a patient or a prospect starts a conversation via Google Maps or Google Business. 

Now when someone sends a ‘chat’ message via Google Maps to your medical practice, chances are that they are looking for practical information about your clinic location, access, parking facilities or public transport. You don’t want these messages to stay in an inbox unanswered for hours. So the ‘smartphone’ option requires a solid internal system if you don’t want this to work against you.

An alternative usage scenario is to switch on the email notifications in your Google Business account so an email is sent to your reception inbox as soon as someone uses the chat function. This is potentially a more failproof method to make sure you never miss a message from a patient or a prospective patient.

If you expand the ways patients can contact you, through other platforms such as Facebook Messenger, online booking platforms and telehealth solutions, make sure your reception and practice management protocols include clear guidelines about who monitors what, how and when.

google business messages for doctors

Are these Google messages secure?

patient confidentiality

As we scanned the Google Business information, we found a reassuring note about the encryption that is being used to send these messages between the patient’s smartphone and your Google Business account.

“Messages sent between users and businesses are encrypted between a user’s device and Google’s servers and between Google’s servers and the CRM/CSP through the Google Business Messaging API.”
Business Messages from Google -Q&A relating to data & security-February 2021

Google Business Messages do not allow the patient to send images or other attachments, and it doesn’t even guarantee that you will get the patient’s email. The messages are secure, but they are only meant to provide basic guidance about the logistics of your practice, not to take the patient’s details or to discuss their health conditions or treatments, let alone their personal medical information. 

Understanding the importance of Google for doctors

Google tips for doctors

This is probably the right moment to remind your practice management and reception team that your Google assets become increasingly important. This particular feature is what it is and you can switch it on or leave it switched off.

Looking at the bigger picture, your Google Business profile is pivotal when we talk about local SEO for doctors. If you are unsure what it means to attract patients with organic SEO and the Google pack, check out our “Grow!” articles about local SEO for doctors and getting your practice to the top of Google.

Google owns YouTube so having a YouTube channel with properly tagged video items also adds to your Google visibility.

It starts with understanding the connection between these tools and products. Your specialised medical marketing agency would ideally manage this for you, and if they don’t, it’s probably good to scroll down and book an obligation-free chat with us so we can help you make the most of Google’s powerful opportunities for doctors.

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We can help you with your Google assets

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If you don’t have your assets configured yet, let’s have a conversation. We are interested in your practice, your business goals, your journey and the status of your current online presence. Let’s meet on Zoom and explore how we can help you obtain spectaculair return on investment from your online marketing, and the use of free tools such as Google Business Messages

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