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Category Archives: healthcare News

5 Fundamentals for Building an Effective Medical Practice Website

5 Fundamentals for Building an Effective Medical Practice Website

As a medical practitioner, your ultimate goal of having a website is to provide patients the information to learn more about your practice and services. Hopefully, those informed patients will make an appointment or contact your practice, resulting in a consultation.

According to Pew Internet, almost 72 percent of Americans search online for health-related information. This means that the first point of online contact, the physician’s website, must be optimized to convert visitors into new patients.

An optimized website helps increase patients’ trust in you and your services, attracts visitors to provide contact information for mailing lists and enhances the ROI of your online marketing efforts. No matter how many people visit your website, if it is unable to attract new patients or if your website conversion rate is less than 5 percent, it is time to optimize your medical practice website. After all, according to an industry report, increasing conversion rates by just 1 percent can reduce your media costs by almost 33 percent.

While it is critical to increasing traffic to your website, that traffic may not be helpful if it is not resulting in appointments. So, in addition to trying to increase the amount of traffic to your website, you should focus on making your website more effective and user-friendly so that most of your website visitors get converted to new patients.

If you want to optimize your current website and improve conversion rate, here are a few things to try:

  • Begin with the end in mind

    In other words, what is the goal of your website? Fuzzy phrases such as, “We want to provide information to patients,” will most likely lead to failure and frustration.

    WHY? Because you failed to define the ultimate goal and purpose of your website. What goals are you trying to achieve? While patient education and satisfaction are high goals to ponder, they are difficult to measure.

    How can you measure?

    Through Google Analytics and other online analytic tools, you can measure and track your website’s performance, which is usually discussed regarding metrics. Your basic site metrics should include the number of unique visitors, the total number of visitors, page visits, the amount of time spent on the website, bounce rate and conversion rate.

    Here, the conversion rate is the ultimate metric because it measures the number of email inquiries or phone calls received by the practice directly from the website.

    For instance, if you get 100 unique visitors in a month, with ten email inquiries or phone calls to the practice, your website converts visitors into new patients at a rate of 10 percent. This is a good conversion rate.

    A knowledge of what to measure and how to measure will make you feel motivated as well as help you make the necessary adjustments required to improve the conversion rate.

  • Make your website mobile-responsive

    The data for healthcare customers and the way they are using mobile devices is quite compelling. One of the most impressive statistics is the conversion rate of mobile users. According to studies, 44 percent of patients who searched for medical websites for information went on to make an appointment. This fact points to the importance of an engaging experience for mobile users. In addition, Google’s algorithm penalizes websites that are not mobile-responsive. By having a mobile responsive website, you allow your practice to connect with these highly engaged healthcare consumers.

    Instead of building separate websites for desktop and mobile users, Google suggests healthcare marketers build one website that can scale up and down to fit the different screen sizes, thus making it responsive. This means your practice website will automatically change the dimensions to fit the screen of the device being used to search. According to Google’s study, nearly 65 percent of searches began on a mobile device. The inability of your website to automatically adjust to devices will create a negative user experience and may result in significant revenue loss for the practice.

    How to check if your website is mobile responsive?

    You can test the mobile responsive functionality of your website in a few seconds. Open your website in a browser, and using the mouse, grab the right side of your browser window all the way to the left until you cannot shrink it anymore. How does your website look? Does it look proper or is it cut off on one side? If your website is cut off, content is not readable, or your website looks distorted. This is an indication your website is not mobile-responsive.

    With technology constantly evolving, it is suggested to check up on your responsive design at least biannually. This will give you an opportunity to identify any potential issues with your website and make necessary updates.

  • Do not compromise on content

    The first step toward establishing a patient-converting website is attracting relevant visitors. To do this, you need to follow two fundamental rules: Create content that your target audience is seeking and promote that content consistently.

    These rules work best together. You cannot follow one without the other. This is because creating great content may attract target audience to your website, but without consistency, your audience will lose interest. Similarly, quantity is not an alternate for quality. Stuffing your website with run-of-the-mill content may help you attract a few visitors, but they will quickly spot a lack of substance in the content, and your practice reputation will suffer as a result.

    What makes good online content?

    Good content is what your target audience wants to consume. When you search Google for anything from flu to insomnia, Google uses its index of keywords related to your search and returns websites that fit your query. The fundamental principle here is that the more frequently a keyword appears on a website, the higher that website will rank in relevant search engine results.

    For your website content to be useful, it must be engaging. Engaging content may include images, graphics and catchy headlines. The most important function of a website is to convert leads to new, paying patients. To achieve this, it is important to serve potential patients the information they are looking for. In addition to other forms of content, these new patients are looking for clear and easy guidelines to connect with your practice. When potential patients want to make an appointment, they do not want to search every page of your website trying to figure out the process to schedule a visit. In all likelihood, if they cannot find that information easily, they will just give up. To handle such situations, put your phone number on both the header and footer of each page.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) – the most important strategy

    There are hundreds of books and blogs written about SEO, and there is no way to do justice to the benefits it offers in a few paragraphs. To summarize the objective and benefits of SEO: If you are looking to attract, serve and retain patients, then SEO is one of the most important strategies for your medical practice.

    SEO impacts your website’s ability to be found on the Internet. Backlinks, meta descriptions, keywords, title tags and local listings – all these factors impact SEO. However, effective SEO requires dedication and effort. If you want your website to be found online by potential patients, you will need to address two key areas:

    On-page SEO: This refers to everything within your website and includes indexable content, crawlable links and URL structures, and optimized pages, meta-descriptions and title tags.

    Off-page SEO: This refers to external SEO opportunities and includes various ways to attract attention to your website through link building, sharing content and optimizing for mobile search.

  •  

  • A clear, simple and user-friendly website is the way to go:

    Generally speaking, the best websites are those that are easy to navigate, informative and appear to be credible. Conversely, visitors tend to avoid sites that are confusing, require too much time and seem unreliable. Luckily, there are easy ways to ensure your website falls into the former category, not the latter.

    Be sure your website is scannable. This is because visitors rarely read the text closely. To make reading a breeze, make the headlines’ font larger, and break the smaller text into digestible pieces. Headlines should also contain search-specific keywords, which will enable visitors to find what they were looking for, and improve your search engine ranking.

    Successful websites also feature images that lend a human face to the practice. You can post pictures of your staff and virtually welcome patients into your office. According to research from KissMetrics, adding images to a webpage can increase conversion rates by 95 percent. Video content can provide a significant boost, as well. According to Animoto, nearly 73 percent of U.S. adults are willing to make purchasing decisions after watching an online video.

    Look at it this way: Unless the online experience exceeds the office experience, the visitors will continue their Google search to the next medical practice.

    You must remember website development is a dynamic process. While certain rules remain constant, the technology and user behavior are always evolving. Effective website design must include the ability to measure what’s working and what needs improvement.

Bottom line

Having a website is critical to being successful in the healthcare community. However, a brochure site will never take you places. As a medical practitioner, it is your duty to empower your patients and to be thought leaders in your industry. An investment in your website design and content will pay dividends in the form of new patients and improved online visibility. You will experience increased traffic, better conversion rates and increased revenue.

For most healthcare providers, it all starts with belief. If you believe that with the right focus, technology and expert guidance, you can attract more patients to your medical practice, then we can show you how. Schedule an appointment today, and experts will help you design a new website or upgrade your existing one. We can help you increase traffic, attract new patients and grow revenue. At Practice Builders, we look forward to serving your practice.

5 Fundamentals for Building an Effective Medical Practice Website

Medical Healthcare Marketing

President Donald Trump Is Praised — By The Cabinet He Appointed | The New York Times

Source: www.youtube.com – Tuesday, June 13, 2017

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Montana’s Gianforte pleads guilty, receives no jail time for assaulting reporter

Greg Gianforte, the Montana Republican who assaulted a newspaper reporter the day before being elected to Congress, pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor assault charge but avoided jail time.

Gianforte appeared in Gallatin County Justice Court, where Judge Rick West ordered him to serve 40 hours…


latimes.com – Los Angeles Times

#ResistMarch and rally wraps up with Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles singing ‘This Land is Your Land’


latimes.com – Los Angeles Times

What Are Your Healthcare Marketing Goals for This Year?

What Are Your Healthcare Marketing Goals for This Year?

Just as we set goals in our personal life to improve our health, pay more attention to finances or devote more time to our relationships, a medical practice should focus on short- and long-term goals in order to be successful.

Marketing goal-setting is an art. It requires maintaining a midpoint between achievable targets and unattainable dreams. In fact, setting and maintaining strategic goals can be a somewhat torturous deliberation. Understanding that the key to success is not in crushing your goals and moving on but in defining them so that each effort serves a purpose. Goals should be set to influence the long-term and the short-term purpose of your medical practice. Consider the following key categories when mapping out your practice’s goals.

Financial goals: Review the last two years to get a snapshot of how your practice is doing financially. Once you have a clear-cut picture of your current situation, determine reasonable goals for this year. For instance, if you have been attracting 35 new patients each month on average, bump that number up to 45 and think about how you are going to attract potential patients through your practice door.

Staffing goals: Take a look your turnover rate, training and development needs, improving employee satisfaction, establishing a retirement or incentive plan, conducting salary reviews or updating your employee manual to be in sync with how you function.

Physical surroundings goals: Take a look around your office, including your waiting area. What’s needed to enhance the décor of your office? When considering improvements in your office decor, get input from staff to prioritize your list.

Patient satisfaction goals: Are your patients happy with the care and service you provide? When looking to measure patient satisfaction goals, consider conducting a patient satisfaction survey. You can set goals for reducing wait times, making the appointment schedule flexible, reducing billing errors and increasing referrals from existing patients.

What Are Your Healthcare Marketing Goals for This Year?

As a business, a medical practice can improve day-to-day performance and foster growth, even during an economic downturn, by applying the proven technique of goal-setting. Goals are long-term targets calculated to drive the practice toward the doctor’s vision of success. More than just marks of achievement, goals act as motivators for the doctor and staff when used to assess the practice’s progress.

Goal-setting is particularly valuable for medical practitioners who have little or no formal training on the performance factors that separate an average practice from an exceptional one. Once the technique of goal-setting has been learned, each practice will have unique goals based on the doctor’s vision. When laying the foundation for success, all practices can benefit from these fundamental goals:

1. Increase revenue: There are various ways to increase your practice revenue, but one of the simplest methods is to focus more on the existing sales process. Take a look at how much revenue your practice is losing because leads are not being managed and followed up on. According to studies, in an average practice, almost 50 percent of leads are lost due to incorrect management.

Steps to be taken:

  • Reduce average time taken to respond to leads.
  • Follow up with the sales team at least twice a week.
  • Review staff performance reports regularly
  • Hold biannual staff training sessions on call-handling practices.

2. Improve patient engagement: It is a known fact that happy patients bring in more referrals and increased repeat business, which will help support your financial goals. Increasing engagement with existing and potential patients is an excellent way to increase satisfaction. Patient reviews are a great way to benchmark this goal. Patient engagement will help your practice stay top-of-mind with your potential and existing patients.

Steps to be taken:

  • Using the right tools and technology is key to successful patient engagement. Make it a priority to have an effective patient communication system in place and a roadmap created to reach the target audience.
  • Implement patient retention programs. You can use email and text marketing to set up recurring reminders for patients when it is time for their routine checkups or lab tests. You can also announce incentive-based campaigns for patients who have not visited your practice lately. Offering an exclusive deal or free service is often an excellent way to get these patients back into your practice.
  • Send out regular communication to your patients informing them of your latest treatments, equipment, product discounts and any new deals you may be offering. You can also set up automatic emails that send your patients a special discount around their birthday or anniversary or holiday time.

What Are Your Healthcare Marketing Goals for This Year?

3. Reduce marketing expenses: Most practices approach marketing blindly, promoting their services on every channel and platform without tracking the performance. This may result in wasting a lot of advertising budget that could be spent elsewhere. You must resolve to focus more on quality and not quantity with your promotional strategy. It is important to determine which channels are resulting in the maximum conversation rate.

Steps to be taken:

  • Assign call tracking numbers to your advertising sources in order to get a complete picture of your marketing ROI.
  • Compare the quality of the leads different marketing sources are sending your practice. In addition, if advertising is sending you plenty of leads, but most of them are not converting, then the advertisement is targeting the wrong set of people and may need to be reassessed.
  • Evaluate marketing ROI reports consistently and hold quarterly budget review meetings to analyze and reallocate marketing budget based on performance.

4. Get more patient reviews: For most medical practitioners, online reviews cause great anxiety. However, with the abundance of third-party review sites such as Yelp, HealthGrades and Vitals, physicians simply cannot afford to ignore online reviews. Make sure to take a proactive approach to managing your online reputation. Your best line of defense against negative online reviews is to ensure the good reviews outweigh the bad ones.

Steps to be taken:

  • Implement a system for gathering and displaying authentic positive reviews from your loyal patients.
  • Learn from negative feedback and understand what needs to change. For instance, customer complaints about long wait times and staff behavior can be handled through better appointment scheduling and staff training.
  • Respond to negative reviews politely and professionally.

5. Automate key processes: For this year and the next few years, resolve to stop wasting your time, energy and resources on repeat tasks that can be automated. When the workflow is automated, there are likely to be fewer mistakes, and your admin staff will have more time to focus on things that matter, such as improving patient experience and providing outstanding care.

Steps to be taken:

  • Put your lead-generating process on auto-pilot with automated email marketing systems.
  • Introduce an automatic appointment reminder system to your practice. You can send automated texts and email reminders to patients and free up your staff for more important tasks.
  • You can also reduce manual data entry by implementing an online patient information system. This will not just save time but also reduce errors.

6. Search for innovative marketing opportunities: Consider employing different methods to improve the brand image of your medical practice. Look for ways that communicate professionalism, ethics, value and care to your potential and current patients.

Steps to be taken:

  • Take time to comprehend and accept the value of a strong online presence. Whether it is creating a profile on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, these social media networks give you access to an unlimited audience, which has tremendous marketing potential.
  • Use your marketing materials to educate patients, enhance patient acquisition and retention, and increase profitability.
  • A SWOT analysis of your medical practice will help you understand which marketing strategies to keep and which ones to discard. Be sure to capitalize on your strengths, minimize weaknesses and identify new opportunities for your practice growth.
  • Most medical practices stick to old ways of marketing. However, for this year, consider going outside your comfort zone and launch new promotional campaigns such as email marketing, social media and search engine optimization (SEO). Consider using simple yet compelling infographics as a visually engaging tool to convey important medical information.

What Are Your Healthcare Marketing Goals for This Year?

Conclusion

Today’s medical practitioners must take a systematic approach to building and managing their practices. You must implement effective tactics to help you generate income to achieve short- and long-term financial needs. Practices will not reach full potential until they apply cutting-edge systems, state-of-the-art technologies. However, goal-setting can get the growth process started.

Medical marketing goals are essential if you want to expand your practice and provide valuable services to your patients. If you and your team are working on these marketing goals, you will be able to increase visibility and revenue for your medical practice. In addition, you will motivate your staff to have a renewed commitment to the visions and goals of your medical practice. So stay focused and celebrate success.

It is never too early or late to set marketing goals for your medical practice. All you need to do is focusing on areas in which you want to grow and then come up with innovative ways to market your services. If you need help, contact Practice Builders. We specialize in helping medical practices build and implement effective marketing strategies.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

Before we start, here’s some food for thought:

  • 65 percent of a company’s new business comes from referrals.
  • Customers are four times more likely to try a new business or product when referred by a friend.
  • A referred customer is 18 percent more loyal than customers gained through other means.
  • A referred customer spends nearly 13 percent more on average than a non-referred customer.
  • Offering a reward increases the chances of a referral. However, the size of that award does not make a difference.

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

Patient referrals are necessary for growing your medical practice and expanding your patient base, and you should take advantage that. While a significant percentage of patients are empowered to find their own doctors, there is still great power behind a personal recommendation for a specialist from a trusted friend or family member. This is why building a base of patients who are happy to give you referrals is a great way to market your practice.

How can you start collecting patient referrals? Here are some recommendations to help you encourage more patient referrals to your practice:

New patients

  • Answer phone calls: Answering phone calls should be your first priority, especially when you are looking for strategic ways to generate them. The calls should be responded to in a friendly yet professional manner. Keep a reference sheet handy with answers to common questions, including office location, insurance lists and general information about services.
  • Value patients’ time: After the first phone call, the patient’s first appointment is the next challenge. Reversing the first impression is hard. Make sure patients have an easy time finding your office location and parking. Once the patient arrives, simplify the registration process by limiting the paperwork or offering a simple online registration process. Patients should know in advance what paperwork will be required, and insurance should be confirmed beforehand. Most of this information should be available on your website. People notice and appreciate your efforts when you value their time.
  • Make patients feel comfortable: Do not make your patients feel like they could get the same or better experience elsewhere. Instead, your staff must make an effort to treat patients as part of your practice family. When a patient comes to the reception desk to check in, greet him or her with a smile and call his or her by name. The way you treat your patients during their time in your office is what will help them decide whether to return.
  • Spruce up your waiting area: While you should aim to minimize the amount of time patients spend in the waiting area, make those few minutes comfortable and soothing. Make sure patients have ample and comfortable seating and have something pleasant to look at, such as a painting or a photograph. Marketing materials are okay as long as they are useful and not overly promotional.

Pro-tip

Create a ‘New Patient Guide’ for your staff. Implement and maintain a certain standard of excellence when it comes to patient care. Make appointment scheduling easy. Set up automated appointment reminders. Provide relevant and regular training to your staff on key aspects of patient care and crisis management.

During the patient’s visit

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

  • Make eye contact and introduce yourself: Nothing relaxes a patient better than a warm smile and a friendly gesture. When combined with eye contact, you demonstrate a sincere welcome and a willingness to resolve the patient’s problem.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal signs: Never make your patients feel that you are disgusted by anything they tell you. Never express your personal feelings about their ailment through your body language or facial expressions. If you give the impression that you are not interested, that patient may shut down on you and may never come back. Be careful about how you act and react toward your patient.
  • Make sure your presence adds value: While it takes the entire team to care for a patient, many patients see their time with the doctor as the biggest factor in whether they are getting their money’s worth. Be sure to take a moment to converse before jumping into the exam room. Ask questions, listen carefully, and be confident about your chairside manner. Never give patients the impression that you are rushing to get to the next waiting patient.
  • Encourage online patient reviews: Asking patients for online reviews and thanking them for their suggestions go a long way in ensuring patient goodwill. It is critical to maintaining transparency within your practice in order to win your patients’ trust. Encouraging your patients to review your practice online is another way of showing that you value their opinion and are open to taking suggestions. Allowing patients’ reviews and testimonials on your website or patient portal are immensely beneficial for your online reputation.
  • Ensure checkout is quick and easy: Checkout is the last touch point in a visit, so make sure the patient leaves your practice feeling positive and taken-care-of. Guide them to the checkout area and tell them what will happen so there is no confusion. Provide patients with information that will be useful after they get home. You can consider printouts with proposed treatment plans, pre- or post-treatment instructions, etc. Do not forget to express thanks as they leave your office and tell them you look forward to seeing them again.

After the patient’s visit

  • Follow up with patients: Most doctors ask patients to follow up with them after their visit. Most patients either forget about following through, or they do not realize that the follow-up visit is a part of their healthcare plan. Having an automated system that allows you to book follow-up appointments and send reminders to patients can make this process a lot easier. A follow-up visit will ensure patients are on the right path to recovery and that they are satisfied with your care.
  • Get suggestions and feedback: Most medical practices have a suggestion box for patients to drop in any feedback regarding their experience at your practice. You can take this process a step further by engaging with your patients via email or text messages using an automated system. You can also send a small survey after the appointment and give your patients an opportunity to provide feedback about your practice.
  • Provide free health monitoring: Chronic illness will require you to monitor patients continually. You can do this by setting up remote monitoring plans for chronically ill patients. Remote monitoring will help patients track their progress for your review. This will also minimize the number of visits and save patients’ time, and they will greatly appreciate the convenience.
  • Ensure a positive patient experience: When you do your best to make sure that patients have a satisfying experience with your practice, you are not only increasing the chances that they will return, but you are also increasing the likelihood that they will refer your practice to their friends and family. When it comes to patient referrals, the difference is in the way you pamper your current patients.
  • Keep the patient educated about their illness and treatment: Most patients look up information about their illness online, even after being diagnosed by a doctor. Rather than depending on unreliable sources of information, you should be their first choice for asking any illness-related questions. You should aim to educate your patients about their illness by using the patient portal or sharing information through mobile health apps. This will also give them another reason to recommend your practice to their friends and family.

Optimize your practice

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

  • Physician outreach: In addition to recommendations from family and friends, patients take into consideration referrals made by their physicians. It is all about referral networking. Physician referrals are an important way of gaining traffic to your practice. According to studies, six out of 10 patients choose health providers based on their location. Maintaining a healthy relationship with physicians in and around your practice can ensure better referrals.
  • Get your staff involved: Even if you have the most modern website or an active online presence, it is essential to train your staff to listen to the needs of your patients. Front-office, nursing and support staff must empathize with patients to ensure they have the finest experience when they visit your practice. Reducing long waiting periods, automating appointment-booking and reminders, simplifying billing, supporting reimbursements and improving access to health records are some of the important aspects of medical practice management that can improve patient satisfaction and increase referrals.
  • Honor your commitments: It is normal for medical practitioners to have unexpected changes in their schedules, be it an emergency procedure, personal reasons or a scheduling error. Always try to adhere to your schedule, but if you cannot, it is important to notify your patients in advance in order to avoid any dispute. Your patients will understand and appreciate these gestures.
  • Provide excellent service: What will really make your patients want to refer your practice to everyone they know? Excellent service. Each new patient provides your staff with the opportunity to make a great impression. You may have great skills or graduated from a top-notch university, but if you treat your patients poorly, your referral volume will take a nose dive.
  • Thank the referring patients and doctors: If applicable, during patients’ first visit to your practice, ask whom they were referred by. Then, be sure to thank the patient or the physician who gave that referral. Whether through an email, phone call or a handwritten personal thank-you note, it will surely make a difference.

These are just a few simple patient referral tips that require a little extra work from your front office and support staff, but they can result in a significant increase in the number of patient referrals. Effective and regular communication with your referral sources is vital. If you foster healthy relationships, your referral sources will continue to send you more patients.

For more tips on successful patient referral marketing, read “The Ultimate Guide to Patient Referral Marketing,” and contact Practice Builders to speak with an experienced representative.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Hasan Minhaj was ready to go ‘Def-Con Orange’ at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner


latimes.com – Los Angeles Times

How are you reaching all your patients in the digital age?

Are high-tech innovations increasing medical access, or are they putting restrictions on patients with disabilities?

Health care providers are aware of and comply with ADA accessibility, but what about the barriers created by technology for patients with communication and processing differences?

Telemedicine

With apps such as Doctor on Demand, telemedicine has become a powerful tool that can lower health care costs , increase patient monitoring and bring patient care to isolated areas. Yet the accessibility of telemedicine depends on the individual’s needs.

Treating patients with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder might require certain accommodations, such as recording the session for repeated viewing, providing written follow-up and paying careful attention to the patient’s body language. It’s easy to overlook these factors when people aren’t physically in the room with you, but telemedicine makes it even more important that practitioners be mindful of them.

Visual data

Visual content such as health-related infographics can help you share information with your audience. If that content isn’t engineered to respond to screen readers, it will be inaccessible for those with visual impairments or others with limited literacy or disabilities that hamper information-processing functions.

As the use of videos increases on health care websites, so does the demand for captioning to accommodate patients with hearing impairments. These same patients can’t use telemedicine conferencing if the content isn’t interpreted for them or accompanied by text chat.

Technology has been democratizing communication for disabled individuals, particularly through the use of augmentative and alternative communication (ACC). This is a common mode of communication for people with autism, but people with a wide variety of disabilities use ACC to communicate. ACC may be digital—involving typing or image-based communication—and can limit the ways that the user interacts with others, but this form of communication ought to be treated equally, even as we push digitization.

Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn .

HealthCareCommunication.com

Kellyanne Conway: President Trump ‘Stands Firm With People Of The United Kingdom’ | TODAY

Source: www.youtube.com – Monday, June 05, 2017

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5 Modern Rules for Effective Hospital Marketing

5 Modern Rules for Effective Hospital Marketing

Hospital marketing is tricky, to say the least. You just cannot inspire patients to visit a hospital. However, it is important for you to increase your patient base in order to do justice to all the investments you have made in your hospital. The solution: marketing your hospital in a subtle but effective manner.

Recent research by Capstrat on hospital purchasing trends revealed that how today’s customers research and purchase medical services does not correspond with the marketing strategies designed to reach them. From the way they reach the target audience, to how they brand their products and services and which networks they utilize to connect with potential patients, hospital marketers need a fresh approach.

Hospital marketing should not be restricted to brand-building or sales support.

It is about making a positive connection with patients, on their terms.

If your hospital’s marketing program is focusing on any of the following areas, it is time to reconsider your branding strategies and how you want to portray yourself to patients:

  • Non-care focus: Hospitals that focus on luxuries misinterpret why patients choose medical facilities. Patients choose hospitals on the basis of specific treatment expertise and online error-free or minimum-error medical histories.
  • Overusing outbound strategies: While many hospitals still use electronic media such as TV and radio ads and direct emails to capture patients’ attention, the marketing world has shifted away from outbound strategies. Instead, according to HubSpot, almost 92 percent of companies using inbound techniques such as blogs, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media witnessed an increase in site traffic and lead generation.
  • Short-range focus: Medical marketing requires patience. Since most patients do not need care immediately, hospital marketing must focus on the long-term nature of the industry. One of your potential patients may view an advertisement for your hospital but not need medical service for months or even years. Persistence and patience are must-haves for hospital marketers trying to attract more patients.

New rules for hospital marketing

Hospital marketing has taken an unforeseen turn. Some medical facilities are using hotel-like comforts to attract and pamper potential patients. However, these luxuries do not lessen concerns about high healthcare costs. Here are some of the newfound marketing rules you should adhere to for attracting more patients while building a strong, health-first brand.

1. Know your product

As a medical marketer, you spend most of your time thinking about your product. How to improve it, sell it, talk about it, whom to sell it to – this is what you are paid to dwell on. But here’s what you need to know: Customers rarely evaluate your product solely against other products in the same category. They have limited money to spend but have a lot of options. And if your products are deemed less important than others in the same category, beating out your competitors may not help you win the sale.

The solution

You must understand how your product category is perceived by your target audience in order to fully understand the environment in which you are operating. One of the easiest ways to start is by making some calls to current patients. Just ask them about the product options they have today and those they were considering when finalizing your product. Of course, a formal survey would be better. In addition, a survey would give you a reason to reach out to current and potential patients about things other than your product or service, which is a good thought.

5 Modern Rules for Effective Hospital Marketing

2. Listen

What part of your marketing budget do you spend on listening versus telling your story? Most marketers spend most of their budget on telling. However, recent research has uncovered some surprising insights about what customers value most while purchasing a product. When asked, “What’s the advice you would offer to marketers trying to win your business?” empathy appeared at the top of the list. So, if you understand what customers demand and the challenges they face, your chances of success can go way up. Listen to your patients and hear what they have to say. Do not just assume that your product will fit everyone’s needs. So, are you listening?

The solution

It is about time you introduced some fresh elements into the marketing mix. To begin with, you can design a questionnaire. If you have tried almost every “telling” strategy under the sun, why not borrow a page from the political playbook and go on a listening tour? You can consider visiting current and potential patients, without any “promotional” agenda, and try to gather intelligence and build interpersonal relationships. However, if in-person visits do not sound like a good idea with your customer list or budget, you can plan a similar survey in a virtual environment.

3. Focus on after-sales

Skilled marketers focus on making the sale, but great ones know that what happens after the sale is just as critical. This is an important lesson for marketers. In most organizations, marketers focus most of their energy on the lead-up to the sale. This is because, essentially, salespeople and marketers are judged on sales numbers and their sales pipeline. Identifying potential clients, contacting them with the right message through the right channel, closing the deal. That is a typical sales routine. However, what happens after the sale is just as important.

Imagine replicating this scenario on hospital marketing teams and patients. Why? Because most potential patients depend heavily on word-of-mouth. They call their family and friends and look up online reviews in order to learn more about your hospital. And in those environments, what you did before attracting the patient to your hospital is not important at all. They want to know what happened after a patient visits your hospital. The real story is about the patient’s experience and his or her overall journey. If you are unable to shape that story, you are likely to miss the boat.

The solution

It is critical to map your marketing strategies against each touchpoint in the patient’s journey. If you are not spending a significant part of your total effort on what happens after patients visit your hospital, you have a lot of work to do. Surveys are certainly an effective way to keep in touch with patients after the consultation, and they can provide valuable feedback. Regardless of what strategy you choose, your goal should be to equip current patients with the information they need to help sell your services to their family and friends. Convert your patients into brand ambassadors.

5 Modern Rules for Effective Hospital Marketing

4. Prioritize social media

As compared to other industries, hospitals have been slow to adopt social media. Most medical facilities have only a vague idea of what they would like to accomplish, but no defined goals, objectives or methods. They just “want to be on Facebook.” Many healthcare facilities understand the value of social media but are unsure of how to get the ball rolling or get their feet wet. Having a robust social media presence that supports all facets of your marketing strategies and engages your patients cannot be implemented overnight.

The solution

Consider the success of Mayo Clinic when crafting your social media strategy. The clinic’s Center for Social Media is the first of its kind. Mayo Clinic also has a YouTube channel that shows doctor interviews, treatment videos and stories about patients receiving outstanding care. New patients get eyewitness reports of the experience, right from check-in to follow-up care.

For healthcare marketers, social media is an opportunity to connect with potential and existing patients, discover partnership opportunities and seek professional advice. However, as medical professionals, you must keep in mind HIPAA guidelines when promoting your hospital and services on social media. Also, some social networks indulge in data-mining practices, which may turn off some of your patients. Having said that, most social media platforms provide benefits along with the much-needed security demanded by medical marketers. Design a social media strategy and start engaging with your patients. You can provide general healthcare advice and customer support and create brand awareness. Do not discount the power of hashtags and relevant images. With the right social media strategy, your marketing reach can get an incredible boost.

5. Strengthen the content marketing

The biggest mistake in content marketing is to create content that your target audience may not connect to or that does not portray your hospital as planned. Most content writers focus on creating sales-related and promotional content. Such content offers only a little or no value to your patients. Do not forget, your target audience is smart enough to identify and classify promotional content from informative content. Consequently, it is an attempt to sell your services and glorify your hospital brand that may make the potential patient abandon your website.
How to overcome this problem?

The solution

Whether a hospital wants to increase its email marketing conversion rate or improve the click-through on its website, content is the key. All you need to do is to create unique, useful and engaging content for your target audience. When a valuable piece of content is created, your readership will grow. This will gradually increase your viewership. Effective content marketing programs take time to stabilize. Do not expect a new blog to drive 100 new patients the first day. However, rest assured, if you consistently create useful and informative content, you will notice an increase in your marketing ROI.

5 Modern Rules for Effective Hospital Marketing

Get the first-mover advantage

Traditionally, hospitals have been observed as caregivers embedded in a ‘build it and patients will come’ approach. Marketing and branding were not always given priority since it is critical to keep costs low.

While some of the modern hospital marketing rules are playing to the strengths of online communications, traditional media continues to play a role. However, because the technology has shrunk the desktop to pocket size, greater personalization and patient engagement is the way to go. You must evaluate if your hospital is falling short and then follow these modern rules for hospital marketing. Your patients and your bottom line will thank you.

The hospital marketing rules discussed in this article can help to build strong, sustainable marketing campaigns that will foster brand awareness, expand your patient base, improve your online reputation and help you to deliver on your promises.

Medical Healthcare Marketing