By Don Baham, CISSP, CISA, MCSE, Kraft Technology Group
Medical offices and doctors are constantly looking for ways to attract new patients, especially in the current complex medical market. Of course, one of the biggest obstacles is that medical offices often have little time to focus on branching out into new marketing tactics even when those tactics are currently the most effective for reaching out and attracting new patients to the practice.
In this digital age, some of the best ways to reach out to patients are by utilizing the wide variety of online means. Even if you’ve never tried these channels before, you can reach a large number of potential patients in your region just by making your practice more visible and available online. Following are eight of the most effective online marketing tactics for medical offices to put into action.
Write a Helpful Medical Content Blog
The first online marketing tactic that every modern business should be using is the blog, a collection of helpful and interesting articles that relate to topics of interest to your patients. They might be seasonal tips to stay healthy, guides for people with specific conditions, or pointers for parents. You can highlight recent medical innovations, changes in the office schedule, or local news, as well.
Believe it or not, one of the most effective ways to turn a medical office blog to patient-attraction is as a soap-box for doctors and staff writing under their own names. If a doctor wants to write a few words on how parents can tell if their child has a sinus infection vs. a cold … or the difference between a heat rash and more serious skin condition … these insights are incredibly useful, and the personal voice is interesting to locals searching online. Also, it will introduce potential patients to your team in a more personal way.
Establish a Social Media Presence
Most people find most things online and through social media. This isn’t just a generalization – there are literally tens of millions of people on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and so on. People look things up through social media platforms. Even more importantly, they check out their Google search results through social media to see other people’s impressions of a business, brand or doctor’s office.
By establishing an active presence on social media, you will be available in searches and provide an extra anchor of social legitimacy to your medical office. Patients like to see a doctor’s office that posts photos of the waiting room, of happy patients, of the staff holiday card, and so on. It lets them know your practice is real and friendly. Just be sure to be mindful of HIPAA compliance and have appropriate permissions in place before sharing any photos.
Get Listed on Google and in Local Business Directories
If you’re not already on Google My Business with a pin in the map, then for many, you practically don’t exist. Make sure your location is claimed and all the interesting and useful meta-data (hours, website, description, photos) are filled in. Be aware, a change in Google search algorithms makes this more critical than ever. Then hook in online appointment booking through Google to use all the free digital marketing boost you can get.
From there, you also want to reach out to local business directories. Google is great. Having a presence in local directories is even better. Make sure your office and doctors are listed anywhere doctors in your region are listed. Get on lists that feature doctors in your specialty and/or care abilities by region, neighborhood or patient ages accepted. Be sure you are included on insurance lists or referral lists from organizations that match your patient profile. Be mindful, people look for medical care in many different ways.
Connect to Online Communities for Specific Conditions
People with specific conditions or condition-groups often band together online where they can find support and camaraderie. You may be aware of the very large communities for, say, different types of cancer or type 1 diabetes, but there are also online communities and organizations for a host of other conditions. If you treat or specialize in any of these conditions, get connected. Become a doctor or medical office of record that is listed on the sites that support these communities so that when someone is looking for answers and support on the internet, they will find you.
Answer Medical Questions Asked On Various Websites
Another approach is to become an online medical resource. Doctors and medical professionals who provide appropriate insights in response to consumer questions have the opportunity to connect with patients and generate ongoing awareness of their practice through the people who come through and read their answers later. It also raises your profile in search engines.
There are tons of websites where people ask medical questions ranging from catch-all sites like Quora to very specific sites like women’s health forums. Go out and find the questions being asked and provide professional medical advice, especially in places where mostly people are getting anecdotal advice from non-medical users. It is, of course, necessary to use the appropriate caveats so that you aren’t blindly giving medical advice without fully knowing the details of a specific individual’s case, but there is a lot of insight and wisdom a doctor can add to such forums.
Remember to use your full professional name along with the name and location of your medical office when answering these questions. Not only will you have the opportunity to share evidence-based information, you’ll also be marketing.
Provide Online Live Chat Support for Patients
Live chat support is something that almost all patients want these days. Before going through the trouble and expense of making an appointment, many people are looking for some quick answers on how worried they should be about symptoms and if there are any approved over-the-counter measure to try at home, first. After all, no one wants to come in just to have their doctor tell them they are overreacting. Conversely, no one wants to takin an OTC pain reliever when they really need to be evaluated for concussion or a broken bone.
Live chat allows for both emergency advice and basic information to be shared on-demand – often through a help center or widget on your medical practice website.
Build an Interesting YouTube Channel
Does someone in your medical office have ideas for interesting videos? Tours of the office, interviews with staff, and interesting “what’s that tool” guides in video can help you create a fascinating and dynamic YouTube channel. YouTube is another great platform for casual and widespread online marketing because the modern internet user spends a few hours a week watching videos.
Many people prefer videos to reading blogs, and videos have a way of personalizing and offering more in-depth understanding for certain concepts. Doctors can answer medical FAQs with visuals, you can create animated infographics of how conditions, devices or procedures work, or just introduce your practice. Building a YouTube channel is a great way to get word about your local medical office out there. Just remember to use your profile and meta-data to connect your YouTube channel to your Google My Business and website.
Collect and Publish Patient Stories
Finally, you can create testimonials from patients by collecting stories, photos, and videos with patient permission. There is nothing that the online audience likes more than a real-world example of recovery and hope. If a patient has experienced a truly positive recovery or been through a medical journey you know would be useful for others to understand, consider asking if they’d be willing to tell their story through your blog or YouTube channel. This in no way has to invade privacy, and you can maintain anonymity if the patient requests. But a simple narrative of symptoms, emotions, treatments, reactions, and finally recovery can give hope and pique interest for future patients currently struggling with a similar condition.
The most effective marketing for doctors and medical offices reaches widely into the online sphere because that is where patients are looking. When they have worrying symptoms, when their loved ones are suffering, or when they are simply looking for a new doctor in a new town, patients look online before they check the phone book these days. The greater your helpful and supportive online presence can be, the more local patients will take note and book their first appointment.
For online marketing, the best part is that you don’t have to tackle all of this by yourself. Contact us today to discover how the Kraft Technology Group can help your medical office marketing take off.
Don Baham, CISSP, CISA, MCSE, is president of Kraft Technology Group, an affiliate of KraftCPAs in Nashville. For details about KTG’s full line of services, or for information on how KTG can help your business take steps against cyber threats, visit. www.kraftgrp.com.