Most clinicians are well aware that today’s empowered patients are radically different than those of twenty years ago. Many walk in the door having spent hours Googling their symptoms. These patients have increasingly diagnosed themselves before they ever make an appointment and view the doctor’s advice as a second opinion. If the physician disagrees with their diagnosis, they want to know why and expect to be to be presented with evidence that will win them over.
The entire doctor-patient relationship continues to change rapidly, and successful clinicians are altering their approach to care accordingly. Patients are also changing how they select providers, and healthcare practice marketers must keep pace to keep their patient pipelines full. Referrals from insurance companies, friends, and even other physicians are no longer enough to bring in new patients. Those referrals have become mere starting points patients use to launch a comprehensive research and review process to find a provider they feel comfortable with.
Knowing what today’s patients are looking for is key to developing a successful acquisition strategy that attracts the best new patients. We examine key patient acquisition strategies to help you succeed.
Empirical evidence is persuasive
Patients still value quality of care above all else, and determining which provider is mostly likely to generate optimal results makes up the bulk of their research. They evaluate this based on things like medical schools attended, specialized training completed, and professional accolades. Marketers should highlight clinician credentials visibly on their websites, remembering that patients put more stock in the quality of the physicians they visit than the practices that employ them.
Anecdotal evidence is also powerful, so be sure to include patient testimonials on your website that highlight positive outcomes. Trust and emotion are conveyed best through video, so include short clips from patients sharing their experiences and physicians discussing their philosophies of medicine and what new techniques they are excited about.
It’s vital to ensure that this content displays properly for all users, and that means it must be mobile friendly. More than half of all web traffic now originates on mobile devices, so test your page thoroughly to ensure that all content displays properly for mobile users.
Measure campaign awareness results
Several media channels can be used to create awareness and drive patients to visit websites and call for appointments. Knowing which ones are generating the best results helps optimize top performing messages. Use landing pages, call tracking software, and webpage analytics to know what awareness campaigns are bringing in the best traffic and use that data to hone the best messages and top channels.
The reverse is also true: Identify which channels are not generating sufficient traffic and alter the message to make it more effective or stop using the channel entirely.
Tap into the “near me” SEO phenomenon
Almost half of all voice searches on mobile devices contain the phrase “near me.” Convenience is a huge factor patients use to select providers, so make sure to include practice address, city, and state in multiple places throughout the site.
Learn the specifics of local lingo and what the hot topics are so you can build content around keywords heavily used in nearby “micromarkets.” That will boost visibility when patients search for practices near them.
Service keeps patients in the pipeline
Patients know they have plenty of options and they will drop out of the process quickly when frustrated. They hang up on voice prompt telephone systems or when placed on hold, and they increasingly won’t leave voice mail messages and wait for a call back. Many patients are also quick to walk straight out of waiting rooms when kept waiting too long. Not only are these patients lost forever, but they will also share their horror stories online and can quickly damage your reputation.
One of the best investments in any patient acquisition strategy is hiring real people to answer phones and alert patients to delays in the office so they can come in later instead of waiting on-site. A single highly profitable patient can often pay the entire annual salary of an extra team member that enhances the service experience.
Engagement keeps the best patients coming back
Technology like SMS and social media are excellent non-intrusive ways to keep patients engaged. Invite patients to participate in online communities to discuss and learn about topics relevant to them. Text messaging is also often a preferred communication method and can be used to remind patients of important items like follow-up appointments and when they only have an hour left to eat or drink before they should begin fasting for upcoming lab work.
Train office staff to use these communication channels as more patients expect to be able to ask questions and schedule appointments on them.
Acquiring patients in today’s environment is more important than ever as patients face a wide range of choices in selecting healthcare providers. The best way to stand out from the crowd is by building awareness around a care team that delivers excellent outcomes with friendly and efficient service and engage patients throughout the process.
This article originally appeared on AAOE.
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