Ensuring the consistent success of your medical practice is no easy job. The market competition is very high, with very little profit share and a high probability of business failure or shutdown.
Even if you use modern electronic health records (EHR) software, practices often find it challenging to get more patients organically or through particular marketing channels.
Most physicians and health care professionals tend to confuse marketing with advertising. Marketing is much more than newspaper ads, direct email campaigns or billboards. As the purpose of health care is unlike that of other industries who regularly advertise their products or services, the strategies that work for other businesses don’t necessarily work for medical practices.
But there is good news for you—a few health care marketing strategies can help you get more patients. These marketing ideas will not only result in sustainable, long-term growth but also prove to be cost effective.
Read on to find useful tips on how to market your independent practice, even on a tight marketing budget.
Understand Patients’ Exact Needs and Expectations
Physicians and patients could have entirely different expectations from the treatment process or the desired treatment outcome. This difference could lead to a disagreement between both parties, which may result in patients going to another practice.
There could be various reasons for different expectations such as:
- Patients expect similar treatment that their family/friends with the same ailment received, even though the latter’s medical needs were completely different from theirs.
- Your website contains old information or treatment methods, which are no longer relevant, but are still being viewed by patients.
This is why it’s critical to understand where you failed to identify patients’ exact needs and expectations. And who better than your existing patients to tell you about it! Here are a couple of steps you can implement in your routine to get feedback from patients.
What Should You Do?
- Use surveys. Conduct patient satisfaction surveys after providing patient care. You can also review the various CAHPS (Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey results to find out what bothers many patients regarding the quality of care or service. You could also create and run your own surveys on various tools such as the ones listed on Software Advice.
- Set up discussions and interactions. Hold focused discussions on different topics related to the treatment, diagnosis, staff communication and care provided with your patients. You can conduct these interactions face-to-face, on patient portals or via social media.
Once you’ve received your patients’ responses through surveys or discussions, compile all of it to figure out your practice’s improvement areas. Work on these areas so that you are able to provide better patient care and prevent patients from leaving your practice.
Identify Target Patients Based on Demographics
When analyzing patients’ responses, try to identify prospective patients in each geography based on demographic information such as gender, age and location. This information will help you better design and execute patient-specific marketing campaigns to optimize your online promotions.
Listed below are a couple of steps you could use to identify your target patients:
What Should You Do?
- Analyze your website visitors. Get the demographic data of people who visit your website from the Google Analytics tool. Analyze this data and develop specific plans to target a certain category of patients. For instance, you find that 70 percent of your new visitors are female. This could be because they make most of the health care decisions in their families. Therefore, you must invest more time and energy in targeting married women to increase your patient count.
- Send personalized messages to your prospects. Use the customer segmentation feature in campaign management software to segment your prospects based on demographics. Collect and analyze patient data to categorize patients into groups by income, age, spending, interests etc. This way, you can send personalized marketing messages based on the group characteristics.
Identifying the most promising set of patients, based on demographics, will help you target potential patients better. In addition, personalized messaging instead of mass messaging is the key to attracting more patients.
Design Innovative Internal Patient Referral Programs
After you identify and target your patients based on demography, it’s time to do some internal marketing within your practice through patient referrals.
Keep in mind that simply asking current patients for referrals won’t get you far. Instead, engage them in interactive discussions and empathize with their problems to be able to sell your referral programs more effectively. Here are some ways you can achieve this:
What Should You Do?
- Motivate patients to help others. Utilize the waiting times to show your patients short infomercials or videos that could trigger them to help other patients. For example, these videos could be about helping a new patient fill out an admission/insurance form or how to administer first aid to someone in need.
- Ask for patients’ reviews. Collect online reviews from your satisfied customers to improve your web presence. You can email or message patients for feedback just when they exit the practice, so that the details of the visit are fresh in their minds. Positive online reviews will help you get more patients.
An important thing to note: offering a patient money or bonus for referrals may not always result in getting genuine patients. Some of your patients could refer fake patients just to earn a quick buck. To ensure that you get genuine patients, use the methods we’ve mentioned above.
Build an Authoritative Online Presence
It’s critical to build an online presence so that you get referrals. This is because any new patient being referred will want to verify your reputation online before their visit. If they see bad reviews, they’ll go to other practices.
Here are some steps you could use to build an authoritative online presence.
What Should You Do?
- Use software to build your online reputation. Prospective patients expect to find a positive reputation of your practice and good quality of care in online reviews. Reputation management software could help you build and maintain a positive online profile.
- Formulate an SEO strategy for your website. As new patients want to find and reach you easily online, you need an SEO strategy that ensures a positive and trusted online presence. You can deploy SEO tools for the right results.
Remember, a trusted online presence not only means having positive reviews or getting search results on the internet. It also means that you should leave the right kind of first impression on your new website visitors.
Create and Grow Your Patient Community
Many physicians who run independent practices in local areas also live in those areas, sharing a neighborhood with their patients. Hence, it can be highly beneficial to create a local patient community and regularly connect with all your patients on an informal level as well.
A strong patient community could help you expand through both online and offline modes. Here are some ways to build a community on your own.
What Should You Do?
- Build an online community. Online communities allow patients to connect and share knowledge on a common subject, interest or health issue. They form a network and develop relationships by sharing useful information and engaging with each other on a regular basis. When new members join the community, chances are they could become your new patients. Use community software to build and develop such networks, cultivate followers and maintain memberships.
- Create a Facebook page. Set up a Facebook page for your medical practice and create an online community that includes your patients. Facebook pages are an effective way to show your practice’s culture to existing and prospective patients.
The pages promote patient engagement via discussions on various health topics, health quizzes, and details about future events at the practice. New members on the page could turn into potential patients for your practice. To increase social media awareness and engage with users, deploy social media marketing software.
- Organize health care camps. You could take out some time to organize or sponsor health care camps in your local area. The goal is to promote the practice—connecting with your local community face-to-face provides you an opportunity to educate people and gain patients. For instance, you could organize a free health check-up camp for kids on how to improve their hygiene and health. Their parents will appreciate the effort and possibly consult you in the future.
In addition to the methods we’ve mentioned in this article, you should also build working relationships with local news and media companies, both online and offline. You can use these channels to spread the word about your practice and programs. This will help your brand reach a much wider audience.
The recommended tips in this article require the effort of your whole team. Ensure that you include each and every member of your practice for successfully implementing any of these marketing strategies.
As most of the strategies mentioned here require deploying different types of software, you should check whether the solutions will integrate with your existing medical software. For any queries regarding integrations, call us at (844) 686-5616 for a free consultation with a medical software advisor.