There is a lot that healthcare can learn from other industries about using digital marketing strategies to spread online visibility, nurture a positive digital reputation, improve patient retention, increase your brand awareness, and engage patients to improve satisfaction.
The widespread distribution of digital technology has proliferated in all industries and transformed the nature of healthcare marketing, as well. Healthcare services have undergone a paradigm shift through mobile apps, social media, emails, custom websites and so on. Patients now extensively use social media and other digital platforms to manage their health and make decisions after thorough analysis. For physicians, these channels are new prospects for patient engagement and communication.
Patients no longer blindly accept what a physician tells them. Recent findings from Pew Internet and Google Think provide statistical evidence of the increased consumption and dependence of healthcare-related digital information. Per Pew research, about one in three American adults have gone online to figure out a medical condition and 72 percent of Internet users have looked online for health information within the past year. A Google Think key study states about 77 percent of patients used search prior to booking an appointment. These soaring numbers clearly demonstrate that patients have taken responsibility for their health. Physicians are left with no option but to embrace this change.
Digital channels present new opportunities for physicians and patients. Physicians, dentists, and hospitals are increasingly adapting to this seismic shift and are now moving away from relying on the traditional mode of marketing, i.e. word-of-mouth, to digital strategies. Digital outreach is becoming the most effective and economic way for physicians and hospitals to market their practice to healthcare consumers.
Many physicians find it difficult to cope with change in marketing. They come from a place where word-of-mouth referrals were enough to keep their practices running at an upswing. Though they are adapting and channeling their efforts to tap the power of Internet marketing, the competition is at an all-time high. It’s a good idea for them to learn the online marketing practices of other industries.
The marketing game has empowered patients, who are increasingly more interested in booking an appointment with a physician who has a positive online reputation and scores high on the 5-star ratings on physician-review websites than someone they hear through word of mouth.
For healthcare practitioners, social media marketing is now an essential “must have” in their marketing strategy. It plays an indispensible role in connecting with patients and helps develop a relationship of trust and credibility. To cater to healthcare’s digital decision-makers, physicians should focus on developing a strategy with an umbrella approach, i.e. to have a versatile digital presence through a website, blogs and social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on. The info-hungry consumers also check out patient reviews on various physician-review websites such as Yelp, RateMyMd, Healthgrades, Vitals, etc. Having an active profile on these sites will help build good relationships with patients and will also keep you aware of what is being said about you online.
By reaching out to the healthcare consumers online, physicians can create meaningful communication channels that can drive patient decisions in their favor. Physicians need to think like marketers to better understand and participate in digital conversations as these can directly impact their online brand perception and reputation.
Manish Chauhan is Digital Marketing Manager at myPracticeReputation which is an easy-to-use reputation management solution for physicians to help monitor, protect and promote their medical practices at all times in the simplest way possible.