Why Even the Best Doctors Need Marketing, Too
While the laws that limited advertising in medical professions were overturned back in 1977, many healthcare providers are still slow to embrace marketing, especially digital marketing.
Gone are the days where you could rely only on word-of-mouth or referrals from other physicians. Yet many practices still do.
The stakes have become higher during the COVID-19 epidemic. If your referring physicians aren’t seeing as many patients, they aren’t sending them to you. What’s more, as much as 38% of patients are continuing to delay treatment, which means you’re competing for a much smaller pool of patients.
If you don’t have a plan to reach new patients, another practice will.
So, today, we are going to set the record straight and uncover the myths that are holding you back from continued practice growth, even in these challenging times.
Myth #1 – Being a Good Doctor is Enough to Acquire Patients
Being good at what you do is great… but it’s the patient you already have that knows and benefits from this. To leverage your talent as a physician to grow your practice, you have to get the word out.
How do you do that? Through word-of-mouth.
Today word-of-mouth is digital, specifically online reviews. In fact, 83.3% of patients say they trust online reviews more than they trust personal recommendations.
Recent studies show that the first step patients take when searching for a new provider is to read online reviews. In fact, online reviews are so influential that 43% of patients would consider going to out-of-network providers if they have a history of positive reviews.
Physician and practice reviews on Google are key. However, niche healthcare directories are hotspots for patient reviews, too.
Directories that offer healthcare-specific business listings include elements such as medical specialties, credentials, and accepted insurance. Popular healthcare-focused directories for online reputation management include:
Your online reputation is a potential patient’s first impression of you and your practice, which often comes from reviews. There are online reputation management strategies you can leverage to take control of your online image and grow your practice.
We recommend setting up a review generation and reputation management engine to help you continually curate reviews and distribute them. Use email or SMS (text message) to contact patients asking them how likely they are to recommend your brand to others on a scale of 0 to 10. This will give you a Net Promoter score. Then reach out to the patients who left you a positive Net Promoter score, asking them to leave a review about their experience with your brand on the sites that have the most impact like Google or Facebook.
RUNNER’s Review Management service includes a custom dashboard to monitor your brand’s online reputation, review generation campaigns, instant notifications for new reviews, and, most importantly, the ability to publish the great reviews and address the bad ones before they become public.
Myth #2 – My Patients Aren’t Online
This just isn’t true. Even if your patient demographics skew older, the growth of the internet has impacted everyone. According to a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 80% of Internet users have searched for health-related topics online.
Furthermore, older adults are not the technophobes they are often portrayed to be. Internet adoption among seniors was just 14% in 2000. By 2017, this surged to 67%, according to Pew Research Center. Older adults are integrating social media into their daily lives, too.
Myth #3 – I Can Grow My Practice Through Physician Referrals AloneIf it were 20 years ago, this wouldn’t be considered a myth. But in a world where patients are taking more and more ownership of their healthcare decisions, referrals from physicians can no longer be your only strategy. Here’s something you likely already know – physician referrals are fraught with challenges.
- Physician referrals take time. You have to take the time to build the relationship before you can even attempt to see any ROI (if you ever do).
- You are not the only option. Physicians commonly give their patient multiple specialist options. You are taking a gamble that they will choose you.
- Patients don’t always follow through. 33% of patients never even go to the referred specialist, and the referring physician never even finds out.
- COVID-19 has changed patient acquisition. The pool of potential patients is much smaller than pre-Coronavirus. Plus, this pandemic has changed what patients value most in a provider. How a practice is mitigating the risk of contracting COVID-19 is playing a much larger role in choosing a provider than a physician referral.