ethics in healthcare marketing

The simple guide to ethical medical marketing

When you start practising medicine outside the realm of the public service, one of the key areas to get familiar with is the advertising and marketing regulations. They are different for each jurisdiction, but the core philosophy is about ethics in healthcare marketing. That is why we go over the essential aspects of ethical marketing for your private practice.
ethics in healthcare marketing

The simple guide to ethical medical marketing

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

December 4, 2021

Can marketing for doctors be ethical in the first place?

Does ethics in healthcare marketing exist?

When I mention the business I am in, friends often seem confused. So doctors spend money to attract more patients? The common belief is that when we need a doctor, we will go to the closest service provider and follow some guidance of the people around us, when it comes to making a choice.

With over 50% of patients/consumers doing online research even after they have received a referral, the landscape has changed. From your perspective as a specialist doctor, it means that the general practitioner or physician referral is not a guarantee.

In between the referral and the specialist consultation, there is a universe of digital content. That is the space where ethical medical marketing creates leaders…and leaves other surgeons and specialists with an impression that the market has changed. It has.

The concern you may have about keeping medical marketing ethical is genuine and real. So let’s go over ways to invest in quality marketing strategies without even coming anywhere near what is considered unethical.

The main reason to give yourself permission to engage in acts of marketing is that your information can make a big difference in your next patient’s life.

If your practice is a business, then ethics in healthcare marketing is a must

ethics in healthcare marketing for surgeons

If you operate a private practice (perhaps you call it an independent practice or a clinic), you will know for sure that you are running a business. Overhead costs, contracts, admin fees, tax returns…there are plenty of conversations to remind you of your business hat, even if you thought you could hide under your surgical cap and not pay too much attention to this business of yours.

Fear of medical marketing ethics has often stopped some of the most amazing doctors and surgeons from engaging in marketing activities at all. You would read a line about their unique profile on a hospital website and that would be it. No LinkedIn profile. No website. No blogs. No videos or Facebook pages.

The patient search behaviour analysis data we have been collecting and mapping in Australia since 2016 show us why being invisible is not effective. When it comes to choosing a specialist doctor, patients spend hours and hours online doing research. Brand awareness has become a reality and if you want more referrals and more patients coming in to cover the costs of your business, marketing may play an important role to reach that goal.

The power of content marketing is that it actually helps the patient.

Patients who do an online search for content in your area can start trusting you if they are able to check you out. You have a chance to provide accurate information that helps the patient make well-informed choices. That information is at the core of a content strategy for ethical medical marketing.

In the video, we go over examples of highly effective medical marketing.

Marketing in the early stage of a private practice

ethical healthcare marketing in the private practice

When you are about to prepare for your private practice, the complexities of the marketing restrictions might be a bit daunting. The reality is that there are more restrictions than in other industries and compliance is often directly linked to maintaining your license.

At Digital Practice, we add structure to your marketing journey by looking at the different components of a sustainable, cost-effective, safe and ethical marketing campaign:

  • Your website: The 24/7 channel that builds a bridge between your practice and the patient out there who is doing research or checking a referral. We tell every doctor we work with that the quality of your website is a first impression worth assessing. (By the way, if you want to get yours assessed sooner rather than later, make use of our free website audit).
  • Your strategy: The modern patient uses Google. Your marketing can be designed around the questions that patients type into Google. Not only is this a truly ethical way of marketing around the patient’s needs, it is also a way to make sure that your medical website ranks high on Google.
  • Analysis & optimisation: The leading private practice owner looks at the data on a regular basis, analysing the traffic and conversions and mapping them against patient numbers. Over time, you can build a predictable growth system that always works within the boundaries of ethical marketing standards, still creating spectacular growth and business results.

When you are just starting out or considering the start of your own private practice, there are a number of important foundational steps to include. Keep an eye on our Grow! online magazine for plenty of tips on the topic of effective content marketing.

Why ethical medical content marketing creates results

ethical content marketing

What type of outcomes can medical content marketing give you?

We all know that ranking high on Google is a good situation but many doctors have not fully implemented this knowledge. How do you know what you want to rank for, beyond the commodity of your specialty?

Content marketing in this mature online landscape is always based on patient search behaviour analysis. It has an entry point where you build the right content and publish it, and a regular, almost 24/7 follow-up component.

This is where most general marketing agencies struggle to help doctors with effective and ethical marketing because they work across industries and are not immersed in the realities of healthcare or the private health practice.

Digital Practice only works with healthcare professionals and has a deep understanding of the specific communication needs in your industry.

ethics in healthcare marketing
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Rest assured that all tactics and strategies we use and propose are ethical. We look at the specific local legislation and regulations before we propose your marketing strategy. Book a free consultation to discuss where you are at now and where you want to be 12 or 24 months from now.

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