The challenges of marketing a medical practice aren’t just about coming up with marketing ideas or figuring out how much your medical practice should spend. Instead, it’s about aligning your practice marketing plan with the patient journey – understanding how to attract new patients and how they make decisions when selecting a new provider.
To understand this decision process more deeply, we conducted a survey of 100 US adult patients about the process of researching and finding a new physician. It unveiled 3 essential insights about how patients research physicians and their implications for how you market your practice.
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3 Insights for Marketing a Medical Practice
Insight #1: 58% of Patients Research Physician Referrals
If you’re like most medical practices, you’re heavily reliant on physician referrals for new patients. Unfortunately, this is the ONLY marketing strategy they have in place for many practices.
We think that’s a mistake.
The survey asked the question, “do you research physician referrals before deciding to book?”
The data was evident; 58% of patients research physician referrals.
This shows that most patients don’t blindly accept a physician referral. Instead, they do their own research to understand if the new physician is a fit. Therefore, a physician referral isn’t a guarantee they’ll become a patient.
Here’s how you need to change your medical practice marketing to ensure referrals follow-through.
- Work on your practice reviews – they’re the most critical factor in selecting a new doctor.
- Publish content – educational content will help you build trust with a potential patient.
- Diversify your patient acquisition strategy. Invest in paid advertising to impact new patient leads right away, and invest in long-term strategies like SEO to grow patient leads over time.
More like this: Growing Beyond Physician Referrals For Your Medical Practice
Insight #2: 53% of Patients Compare Physicians
Most patients actively compare physicians to one another as they select a new practice. Yet few medical practices acknowledge this fact. Therefore, you must assume that patients are “shopping around” for a new doctor.
The survey asked the question, “how many doctors did you compare?” when looking for a new doctor.
Our research found that 1 in 3 patients compare 3 or more doctors. This means they’re casting a much wider net and spending more time making sure they’re making the right decision.
Here’s how you need to change your medical practice marketing to differentiate against competitors:
- Having a high number of 5-star reviews – benchmark yourself against competitive practices for both your average star rating AND the number of reviews.
- Build out your practice listings with more information. When patients are shopping around, answering ALL patient questions helps you earn trust. You can do this in the details – insurance accepted, photos of the practice, services provided, etc. You look better when your listings look more built out than the competition.
- Create video content – video is much better at building trust and will differentiate your practice from the competition. Here potential patients can see physicians and learn more about your philosophy of care or get more education on their condition.
- Build empathy in your copy – Empathy is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from competitors. We often describe this to medical practices as doing your marketing about patient problems, not just about your accomplishments. Practices that do this well will stick out.
More like this: How To Get More Patients – 7 Marketing Strategies for 2022
Insight #3: 43% of Patients Take More Than 2 Weeks to Research a Doctor
All of this research a potential patient does when selecting a new doctor takes time. It’s clearly a decision they don’t take lightly.
The survey asked the question, “how long did it take from when you started researching to when you booked an appointment?” when looking for a new doctor.
Our survey found that some patients quickly decide on a doctor, perhaps due to the urgency of their condition. However, most take their time to research over a handful of weeks, with 16% taking more than 30 days to decide.
Overall, this means that you must take a longer-term view of your marketing strategy and how you measure the success of your marketing.
Here’s how you need to change your practice marketing for patients taking a longer time to research:
- Don’t trust your website reporting related to returning visitors or the length of time to conversion. These are flawed metrics that ALWAYS under-count repeat visitors.
- Train your front desk staff to follow up on leads that aren’t ready to make a decision — always ask for contact information like email, text, and phone, and use it!
- Invest in “remarketing” paid advertising, targeting only those who’ve visited your website but did not call or submit a form. This is a great way to keep your practice top-of-mind while a potential patient is doing research.
Use These Insights to Grow Your Practice
The most robust strategies to grow a medical practice are rooted in understanding the patient journey. The insights above should help you tailor your practice marketing strategy and adjust your expectations toward the realities of the patient experience.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can build a marketing strategy for your practice, request a consultation to speak with a RUNNER medical marketing expert. We’ll take the time to understand your needs and show you what a partnership might look like to grow your practice.