Being a marketing manager in the medical industry is no cakewalk. And when compounded by multiple locations and dozens of providers, the job gets even more complicated. From Doctor.com’s years of experience in healthcare working with tens of thousands of private practices, midsize offices, and large hospitals, we’ve developed a few strategies and tools that can make your life, as a marketing manager, much easier when you’re in (and outside of) the office.
1. Claim profiles everywhere patients are searching for doctors.
Patients today go where their online search takes them: objective, third-party review sites. In fact, review sites get as much as 10x the traffic as a practice’s own website. Once you’ve claimed all of the practice’s profiles on top patient destinations — Healthgrades, Google My Business, Yelp, etc. — make sure you keep each one of them updated with correct listings information so patients don’t reach any dead ends when they’re interested in a practice or provider.
63% of patients will choose one provider over another because of a strong online presence.
Even at a multi-provider practice, more often than not, referrals come in on the physician level. This means that each doctor associated with the practice needs to be easily discoverable with correct, consistent information across the web, too. Your brand’s discoverability depends just as much on up-to-date listings for each of your providers as it does on the practice’s information itself. But because countless third-party data sources pull in inaccurate or outdated information about providers and practices, discrepancies will keep popping up. That’s why it’s important to develop strategies or enlist technologies to keep a finger on the pulse of where this information is flowing into.
2. Harness the true power of patient reviews.
A practice’s online reputation is only as strong as the physicians who work there. This is measured in the form of online ratings and patient reviews — often the deciding factor for people looking for care. Case in point: 84% of patients trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from someone they know, and a whopping 90% have changed their mind about a referred provider due to a weak online reputation.
>> Related read: 5 strategies for soliciting more patient feedback
The fewer reviews a practice has, the more likely it is that a single negative review will drag down its overall reputation. To combat this, marketing managers are charged with getting more reviews on a regular basis. Unfortunately, patients are far less likely to give feedback after they’ve left the office. Capturing reviews at the point of care results in a greater influx of reviews from happier patients. It also ensures that the reviews you do get are higher quality, as the appointment is still top of mind. Learn how Doctor.com’s ReviewHub™ encourages feedback here.
3. Enable online scheduling or appointment requests to help patients self-serve.
Nearly half of all patients prefer to schedule appointments online. And 42% will even choose the doctor who offers online scheduling or appointment requests over the doctor with equal credentials who makes them call the office. If you’re under fire to book new patients, an antiquated scheduling system may be the cause of slow growth.
By 2020, 64% of patients will book their appointments online.
Expand your office hours around the clock and reach the 40% of patients who try to connect after business hours through online appointment requests. This lets patients pencil themselves in for specific dates and times. Then, you or someone in your office can reach out to confirm or reschedule.
4. Turn a critical eye on customer service.
A huge majority of patients say great customer service is the #1 deciding factor influencing their loyalty. It’s also key to getting more word-of-mouth referrals and five-star reviews. Especially in an industry as complex and competitive as healthcare, the practices that deliver on excellent customer service will see massive growth.
From first looking up a practice or individual provider online to follow-up communications, patients expect a seamless and exceptional experience at every step of their journey. Pay attention to the details. Is each provider maintaining an excellent bedside manner? Are staff members delivering service that reflects the quality of providers’ care? How easy is parking? How tidy is the waiting room? Often these “soft factors” are highlighted in patient reviews and, for better or worse, make practices stand out.
5. Adopt a data-driven approach to provider performance.
You can learn a lot from patient reviews and provider ratings. But reading through mass feedback across the web for each doctor or office could take months — even years! Another perk of the digital age is that powerful analytics tools are available, like Doctor.com’s Reputation Insights.
Sentiment analysis is tricky in the healthcare space, where reviews that contain traditionally negative words like “broken” or “pain” might be affiliated with positive feelings overall. Doctor.com’s natural language processing (NPL) library is the world’s largest database built directly for healthcare. It helps midsize practices and hospitals monitor provider performance and can even identify early warning signs of physician burnout.
Again, none of this is easy! Practice marketing managers have a difficult path ahead, balancing listings, reputation, and scheduling on the digital side with in-office performance and service — for multiple doctors and offices.
Take the first step. Request a free custom practice assessment, and Doctor.com will analyze the entire practice’s web-wide footprint to identify any gaps in your online presence and reputation.