Providing medical care in one way or another, from ancient incantations to current telehealth and advanced imaging, is among mankind’s oldest occupations. So it’s little wonder that medical facilities and physician practices tend to lag behind other industries when it comes to digital marketing, social media, and other ways of engaging patients and potential patients online. Referrals and satisfied patients spreading information about your practice, clinic, or facility are still among the best and most effective ways of gaining new patients and retaining current ones. But more and more of those conversations are happening online: in forums, in reviews, in lists, and on social media. If you are a doctor, practice, or healthcare facility of any kind, it’s imperative to be part of that dialogue. It can be daunting: the range of the digital landscape is impossible to even quantify. Consider that an opportunity, and remember that potential patients searching for information about healthcare providers online are still limited by geography and proximity.
Your Competitors and Peers Are Likely Already Online
There are more physicians, clinics, practices, and medical facilities near you than ever before. From 2008 to 2018, the reach of retail medical clinics grew by 14%. And many if not most of those businesses have an online presence and a social media presence. A simple Google search for practices comparable to yours and within a few miles of you will bear this out. The physicians who see their practice higher in search returns than others are likely working with professional social media managers and other digital marketing experts. They are outranking other practices and facilities in search results, and they are outranking other practices and facilities in new patients fielded from online results. To compete, you will need an effective and bold online marketing strategy to engage potential patients on social media, gain trackable click-throughs to your web presence, and drive your business to the top of search results.
Reach the Ideal Target Audience
The good news is that while traditional advertising — broadcast, print, and others — are just as frequently seen by those who don’t necessarily need or seek service as those who do, digital marketing is able to put advertising directly in front of almost exclusively those who are looking for it. The versatility, reach, and flexibility of digital and social media marketing lends itself most readily to the positioning of very specific answers to very specific questions, and in healthcare that can be a significant advantage. Example: it is highly likely that during cold and flu season, potential patients will search for information about the flu, the vaccination for it, and its potential severity. Craftily marketed medical facilities will post information about the flu on their blogs, in their social media posts, and elsewhere. When a concerned and diligent parent needs to know whether the flu is more dangerous to children under the age of 5 and adults over the age of 65, it can be your practice’s blog, social media post, or website that Google drives them to with high ranking answers. Traditional advertising can’t do that. But your competitors can, and you should too.
Provide Accurate Data and Research
Another important advantage of using digital marketing is to shape healthcare dialogues. Using the flu season for example again: how accurate is the information yielded by high ranking search results? It can be your online presence that establishes itself as a trusted resource. Using resources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you can provide reliable statistics to concerned potential patients. And these statistics can be motivating, and can include calls to action: According to the CDC, since 2010 there have been as many as 710,000 patients hospitalized with the flu. Accurate, relevant, and responsible: your presence on the web and on social media can serve an important purpose in online dialogues about healthcare.
Another thing to consider regarding research and accuracy is that your practice or facility will likely have information about it online whether you wish for it to or not. And once something is online it tends to be intractable. A purposeful and practical plan for digital marketing can help you make sure that online searches for your practice or medical facility yield the best and most accurate information.
Track the Changing Landscape
The preferences and needs of potential patients are changing more rapidly than ever before. Not only do those needs change rapidly, but the avenues to patients have also never been more mutable: the internet and its associated technologies, culture, and even the healthcare industry seem to be constantly evolving. But now those equivocations are trackable. An effective digital marketing strategy will include accurate and measurable results and information about your business and market via dynamic and powerful metrics.
Find New Patients Where They Are
Forty-four percent of internet users in the U.S. search for information related to their health, health insurance, or practices and facilities, making health information one of the top five most common search topics, ahead of even social media and the most popular video services. An effective digital marketing campaign can be a powerful way to reach new patients.
Reaching potential patients via their mobile device means eradicating all walls between you and your target audience: they no longer have to be in front of a television, reading a newspaper, listening to the radio, or leaned over a desktop or laptop: digital marketing can reach them on buses, in bed, in rideshare vehicles, on planes, nearly anywhere. And more than 50% of all internet users today is done on mobile devices: wireless phones, tablets, even watches, and smart devices. Reach your new patients anytime, anywhere.
More Information About How Your Practice Can Benefit from a Digital Marketing Strategy
Nearly 70% of emergency visits by patients with private health insurance are for non-emergent illnesses and injuries. Having an effective digital presence means directing those potential patients to your practice or facility instead, either with commercial visits or virtually.
Few professions carry as much stress, as many hours, or find as much on the line as being a doctor. And the value of a good doctor is nearly impossible to place a value on. Serve yourself, your patients, and your community by doing what’s necessary to focus on the health and care of your patients and let a qualified and experienced digital marketing team drive new patients and new business to your practice or medical facility.