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Online Appointment Scheduling: Take Your Medical Practice from Patchy to Profitable

Online Appointment Scheduling: Take Your Medical Practice from Patchy to Profitable

When it comes to ease-of-use and convenience, most medical practices are not currently delivering the comfort and access that their patients desire. According to a report, nearly 81 percent of patients want to be able to book their doctors’ appointments online, and almost 40 percent of patients would switch providers in order to get online access. However, Accenture has revealed that only 40 percent of the top 100 healthcare facilities in the country offer online appointment scheduling.

The biggest, and the most tedious, part of running a medical practice is scheduling appointments. Traditional or manual systems require a lot of back and forth with patients, which may lead to errors. These mistakes can adversely affect your relationship with patients and harm your practice reputation.

The technology available today, however, gives medical practice owners an opportunity to automate appointment scheduling. Online appointment scheduling tools offer a professional way to handle patient appointments and provide efficient solutions that allow practice owners to manage communications.

Online appointment scheduling helps further your practice’s mission of putting your patients at the center stage and, in the process, improves your reputation and bottom line. This service reduces time-consuming phone calls and improves access to healthcare so that patients can schedule appointments with your doctors anytime, even when your office is closed. It also enables patients to stay on top of preventive care needs, helping control their upcoming appointments and tracking tests and checkups.

How Significant Is Online Appointment Scheduling?

Online appointment scheduling is gaining momentum quickly. According to a study from Accenture, by the end of 2019, nearly 66 percent of healthcare facilities in the U.S. will offer online appointment scheduling, and more than 64 percent of patients will book online appointments using different tools. Nearly 38 percent of appointments are likely to be scheduled online, creating more than $ 3.2 billion in value.

In addition to offering ease-of-use, online appointment scheduling can give you access to patients who have a tough time booking an appointment during their work hours. According to recent research, nearly 45 percent of appointments booked through online system are booked outside of work hours, and most patients visit their healthcare provider within 24 hours of requesting an appointment.

Though any medical practice is highly unlikely to see a 45 percent increase in patient visits just by using one of these scheduling tools, these tools can make it easier for your patients who are busy during the day to schedule an appointment. A lot of these patients desire the convenience of online scheduling and will choose a healthcare provider who offers this service.

Online appointment scheduling tools can also save your employees a lot of time, which will allow them to focus more on patients who are currently in the office so that patients can have the best possible experience. This is a much better use of your team’s time than making or receiving phone calls, attending to voicemails and handling follow-up calls.

How Do Online Appointment Scheduling Tools Work?

In order to enable patients to book appointments directly from your practice website or social media page, the online appointment scheduling system will provide you with a URL that you can link to your website. This URL will be specific to your practice, so when patients visit it, they will be able to book appointments directly. You will not need to design a separate website or create any of the scheduling features – the hosting company will provide you with your own profile that you will need to maintain. However, you will be expected to ensure that the vital information, such as address, phone numbers, business hours, list of services, insurance providers, etc. is up-to-date.

Usually, the online appointment scheduling system interlocks with your practice management system and displays the available timeslot for each doctor. This feature maximizes the possibility that the appointment time requested by the patient is available. This feature is critical because, if the requested timeslot is already taken, your staff will have to request the patient to discuss other slots that might work for them, which negates the convenience of online scheduling.

Online Appointment Scheduling: Take Your Medical Practice from Patchy to Profitable

It is also essential to understand that a lot of online appointment scheduling systems that claim to harmonize with your practice management software are only able to read your schedule, not write to it. In this case, after you confirm an appointment through the scheduling system, you will have to manually enter the appointment into your practice management system. Preferably, the system you choose should be able to automatically enter appointment details into your practice management system.

If the online scheduling system does not sync with your practice management system at all, your patients will have to email you to request appointments, and they will not have any visibility of the available or booked timeslots. This would require you to reach out to individual patients to discuss alternative timeslots if the timeslot requested by them is unavailable. Once you agree on a time, you will have to manually enter the appointment in your practice management system.

Why Should You Use an Online Appointment Scheduling System?

A growing number of medical practices are going online with appointment scheduling systems. There is a greater need to understand why such systems do not just streamline appointments, but also benefit the practice, staff and patients. Appointment bookings, cancellations, follow-ups, reminders and other functionalities can now be handled online with efficiency and without all the chaos that is associated with manual appointment scheduling systems.

However, transitioning to an online system, or even changing providers, is a daunting process. We will try to make this process easy and pain-free by putting together the top 10 reasons why you should be using an online appointment scheduling system:

1. Empowered Patients

One of the biggest reasons an online appointment scheduling system is gaining popularity is that it enables patients to make the appointment to see their healthcare provider. These systems make it easy for patients to go to their computer screens, access the healthcare provider’s website and make an appointment. In addition, patients can play a bigger role in making healthcare-related decisions. They can make an appointment to a provider other than theirs, in a matter of minutes, from the comfort of their home.

2. Better Physician-Patient Interaction

The provider can interact with patients without the need to call them, saving a lot of precious time. Scheduling an appointment online is an effective and a less costly way for doctors to communicate with their patients. The time previously spent doing office tasks can now be shifted to allow for more quality time with your patients. Your patients will value the extra attention and become repeat customers based on the level of personalized care you provide.

3. Enhanced Service Quality

A lot of times errors are made by the staff or patients while exchanging critical information. This may cause problems for both the patient and the provider when the patient arrives. Through online appointment scheduling, there can be no such thing as mistakes. Online booking systems take into consideration the workflows of patient communication. Most systems include features such as automated appointment confirmations, automated appointment reminders and thank-you emails. Appointment reminders can help reduce no-shows and allow time for rescheduling, so your staff can keep your schedule booked. Your pricing and cancellation policy can be easily communicated through these emails, reducing awkward conversations. Through automated emails, your patients will be well-informed about the details of their next appointment with you.

4. Reduced Employee Cost

Making appointments via phone calls requires a lot of attention and resources. Your patients may have to make a number of calls, go through the Interactive Voice Response (IVR), the receptionist has to fill in a number of forms and do a zillion more activities that have not much significance. Also, the practice owner has to spend a significant amount of money on the appointments. This expenditure can easily be reduced by using online appointment scheduling. These systems rarely need any effort from your staff, as most of the information is filled by the patient. According to a study, medical practitioners can save more than one full-time equivalent, which is factored at 160 hours per month.

5. Filled Empty Slots

Every vacant appointment slot costs you money. You must have determined your charges per visit based on your costs, and many patients may reimburse at a lower rate than your fee schedule. So, if you do not fill those appointment spots on your calendar, you are losing money you need to thrive in business. For most healthcare providers, the average visit is worth about $ 100 to $ 150. If you allow 30 appointment slots in a day and do not fill 20 of them, that is up to $ 2,000 in lost revenue. Online scheduling may work great for last-minute and same-day scheduling, as it can help you fill empty slots.

6. Appointment Reminders

Don’t you hate it when a patient forgets about his or her appointment or gets the date or time wrong? Your staff must be spending a lot of time every day to manually go through your appointment schedule and sending out reminders just so that your patients will remember to come for the consultation they booked in the first place. Appointment reminders are now commonplace in the industry and are expected by patients. Most online appointment scheduling systems let you configure reminders and can automatically send your patients reminders every step of the way. This helps minimize ‘no-shows’ and makes your patients feel like they are important.

7. Increased Patient Satisfaction

Two common complaints from patients are long hold times on the phone and the work it takes to schedule an appointment. Online scheduling systems can address both these problems and improve patient experience. A recent study showed that it takes eight minutes on average to schedule an appointment over the phone, and at least 30 percent of that time is spent on hold. No wonder patients get frustrated and start looking for another healthcare provider. With an online scheduling system, patients can access your appointment schedule at their convenience and pick a day and time that suit them.

8. Preserved Critical Data

Whenever a patient makes an appointment, you only get to know the patient’s name and appointment time. Mostly, you would not know anything else without carrying your electronic medical records around the office. You may not even know the patient’s medical history or medical problem. This lack of information will never make you prepared for the upcoming appointment. The online appointment system can reduce this stress of not knowing important details about the patient. Through the online appointment system, your patient can fill in an information page and communicate his or her medical history and health issue that he or she is facing. This will help you be more prepared.

9. Better Decisions

Trying to manage the growth of a thriving medical practice? Or are you looking to improve your operational efficiency? Regardless of the size of your practice, the detailed reporting available in online scheduling systems will help you make better decisions. Most of the online appointment scheduling systems provide the following reports:

  • Number of no-shows on a periodic basis
  • Total number of appointments by each staff member
  • Week-wise comparison of productivity
  • Number of appointments booked as a result of marketing and promotion
  • A patient’s full appointment history

This accurate and easy access to critical data can help support both short- and long-term strategic decisions for your practice.

10. Cost-Effectiveness

Making an appointment with human involvement is expensive. Eventually patients are made to pay for this excessive expenditure in medical care. Even fixing appointments costs a lot of money. If you calculate the cost of having an administrative person, add their benefits and overhead costs, this can go over $ 100,000 per annum for one person. You can prevent this huge cost by simply moving to an alternate method: online appointment scheduling.

Online Appointment Scheduling: Take Your Medical Practice from Patchy to Profitable

Wrapping Up

You probably can get away with not having online appointment scheduling for now, but eventually, your practice will have to embrace this trend. The sooner you do it, the better you can get your staff trained, and the more your patients will enjoy its benefits.
Hopefully, these ten reasons for using online scheduling software can help nudge you off that fence. For sure, it will require a lot of changes in the way your patients book appointments, but this may be one of the most critical changes you will ever make to your medical practice.

To talk more about online appointment scheduling, or anything else, please contact the expert teams at Practice Builders.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Are You Looking to Improve Conversion Rates of Your Medical Website?

Are You Looking to Improve Conversion Rates of Your Medical Website?

So, your medical practice has a website and you want to drive more traffic or potentially more patients. What can you do? Most website owners instantly think about marketing and spending more dollars. Undoubtedly, getting more visitors to your website means more new patients will schedule an appointment? “I can spend more money on Google AdWords and I will attract lots more leads.” Isn’t that how it is supposed to work?

Yes, that is true, but such strategies can also be a complete waste of money. Instead, you can spend your hard-earned money on making the most of what you already have.
The more intelligent way is to make your current website visitors more engaged. By increasing the conversion rate of your website, you get more appointments without driving more visitors and without the hefty marketing costs.

In case you are still wondering, let us understand the concept of conversion rate.

The conversion rate of a website is nothing but the percentage of potential patients who take a specific action, such as schedule an appointment, subscribe to your newsletter or fill in your contact form.

For example, if you have 500 visitors a month but only 10 take a certain action, you have a 2% conversion rate (10 / 500 x 100 = 2%).

And, What Is a Healthy Conversion Rate?

Many practice owners are surprised at how low their conversion rate is. This is because most practice owners assume that most visitors would want to schedule an appointment.
Generalizing the concept of a good conversion rate is difficult. This is mainly because conversion rate depends on many factors, including what do you want your site visitors to do, what is your specialty, and how much do your services cost? For some, a 3 percent conversion rate may be considered good. For others, terrible.

The best way to start is by assessing your current conversion rate. Whatever you are achieving now, try to improve it. However, be realistic. You will not be able to change it from 2 percent to 40 percent overnight. It is amazing how addictive it can become once you see an initial boost. You will want to experiment more to improve it, and soon you will get an idea of what works and what does not.

It is important to note that conversion rates can change over the month or year. So, track your pattern and take an average year-on-year. Segmenting conversion rates by visitors or referring channels can prove useful, as well. You may convert remarkably from direct visitors but poorly from social networks. In such cases, it is essential to compare the overall conversion rates and determine what can be done to increase the rate of poor-performing channels.

Are You Looking to Improve Conversion Rates of Your Medical Website?

How Can You Improve Conversion Rates?

Unfortunately, no magic wand can make your visitors schedule more appointments. The key is to identify what might be stopping your visitors them from converting and work out ways to fix it.

Sometimes, underlying factors such as finding the right link, being able to see a button or knowing how to navigate your website can make or break a conversion.
There are some online tools that you can use to identify problem spots. Once you have identified the issues, you can then quickly fix them.

Track Conversions

To begin with, you need to decide what you want visitors to do on your website. Schedule an appointment? Buy a product? Fill in a form? Download an eBook? What is the purpose that you want your visitors to achieve?

Once you identify the goal, make sure your website can track it using analytics. Unless you know your current conversion rate, you will never be able to improve it.
Step Into Your Patients’ Shoes

For sure you know your website like the back of your hand, but it is amazing what new things you can discover when you behave like a website visitor.

Set yourself a task. Try to schedule an appointment, or to download an eBook, or whatever is relevant to your website. You must start from your homepage and navigate your way through your website until you reach your destination.

While doing this, look at each page and section, and think of ways to improve every step. Is there anything that was inconvenient? Did you find what you were looking for? What can be done to improve the user experience?

Analyze Your Data

Almost all websites these days have analytics packages on them. This analytics can help you understand how many visitors you get and what they are looking for.

To begin with, make sure your website is tracking conversions. If you want to monitor other activities, such as downloads, contact forms or subscriptions, then set up your analytics package to track these critical actions. Once you have the relevant data for your conversions, you can start following it and see if any change improves the performance.
This analytics can show you critical indicators, such as at what point most visitors were exiting the site when they got bored. One thing to note here is that visitors from different referrers may act differently. For instance, visitors who come to your website via your blog may never book an appointment. This may be because they just wanted to enhance their knowledge by reading your blog. How can you encourage such visitors to perform other actions?

Assess your data to understand who your target audience are, what they look at and how they get to your website. Once you have understood what your website visitors do, you can look for opportunities to improve.

Ask Your Patients

Why not ask your potential and existing patients what they think of your website? Whether it is via a survey, email or social networks, your patients might give you some honest feedback.

Be careful though; it is tempting to offer incentives to encourage a response. However, if your target audience thinks a prize is at stake, they tend to give positive feedback in order to win the prize. As much as it is great to hear positive words, you need genuine and constructive feedback, as well. So avoid offering incentives.

Observe Your Competitors

If you have competitors who are doing well, try and figure out the reasons. How is their website different or better than yours? Is there something you could learn from them? Why would patients choose them over you?

Find out the answers to these questions and you may get some great insight to improve your own website.

Test Your Findings

If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong with your website, just go ahead and test it. Testing is the most efficient way to see if there is an improvement.
The best way to test your website is via A/B testing. During A/B testing, you show multiple options to your website visitors and see which works best. There are a number of tools to facilitate testing, which will help you manage the different versions and collect the data for you.

Just a word of caution: Try not to test lots of elements at once as it may become difficult to tell which changes made the difference. It is best to tweak one component at a time, and if your conversion rate gets worse, go back to where you were. In addition, make sure to leave your tests long enough in order to get a few hundred visitors to make the data credible.

Look at Your Practice as a Whole

Many more significant factors can affect your conversion rate, in addition to website design. Therefore, it is worth looking at these, as well. Here are a few factors to investigate:

  • Are your prices competitive?
  • Do you look like a credible practice?
  • Do you have a positive online reputation?
  • Do your services or treatments have positive reviews?
  • Is your staff friendly and approachable?
  • Is your competitor undertaking some prominent marketing activity?

Verify the Basics

Just to make it easy for you, here are some tips and hints to help you identify common issues related to conversion rates:

  • Make sure your practice looks trustworthy. Patient reviews and testimonials will come in handy here.
  • Highlight your unique selling prepositions (USPs) – What makes you different from your competitors?
  • Make sure CTAs can be easily seen.
  • Are your prices clear and competitive?
  • Do not put off your visitors by asking for unnecessary information.
  • Make your website easy to navigate.
  • Prominently display relevant information such as address, office location, working hours, phone number and email address.
  • Keep an eye on your website analytics. This is because a sudden drop in visits could mean an issue with your website.

Contact the Experts

The above points are very simple and are capable of making a difference. However, do not forget that medical website design companies, such as Practice Builders, can give you a helping hand.

Whether it is not knowing where to start, or you think you have done all you possibly could, talking to a website expert can really make a difference. The experts have years of experience in delivering efficient websites and can spot issues that you may not have noticed. These companies also build and design websites, and therefore they will not only recommend improvements but also implement them for you. These experts can also help you with setting up your analytics or testing different options.

Yes, hiring a website design expert may cost money, but if this can improve your conversion rate, then every single penny is worth it. In addition, for most practices, an increase in the number of patients can more than cover any costs that may have incurred in hiring such experts.

Are You Looking to Improve Conversion Rates of Your Medical Website?

Conclusion

Even if you think your conversion rates are healthy, experimenting with CTAs and contact forms can help improve your conversions even more. Trying different options will help you understand what your website visitors respond to best.

If you are satisfied with your conversion rate, try to attract more visitors. Spend time and money on AdWords, send out direct e-mails and promotions, go for paid ads or do whatever marketing activities suit your practice best. Even without spending more money, it is possible to get more visitors because if your website is appealing, your target audience may start coming back often and recommend you to their family and friends via social media.

So, give it a try. It could really make a difference to your practice.
Do you want to improve your website conversion rates? Talk to experts at Practice Builders to get started.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Is Your Medical Practice Website HIPAA-Compliant?

Is Your Medical Practice Website HIPAA-Compliant?

An effective website is a foundation for any digital marketing strategy. However, for healthcare providers, having a great website is not enough – it also needs to be HIPAA-compliant. This means if you are using your practice website for either transmitting or storing protected health information (PHI), it must have appropriate policies and procedures in place, in addition to the technical security.

The most important thing to do is assess what actions you want visitors to take when they visit your practice website. Do you want potential patients to be able to do a live chat, send an email, upload documents, fill out contact forms or access the patient portal? Once you identify how your visitor will interact with your website, you can work on ensuring those interactions are convenient, user-friendly and secure. However, it is important to consider the following conditions:

  • Are you transmitting any PHI through your practice website?
  • Are you storing PHI on a server that you are hosting?

If you are transmitting PHI on or through your practice website, then you need to ensure it is HIPAA-compliant. This includes simple transactions like scheduling an appointment.

Ensuring HIPAA compliance is one of the biggest concerns for healthcare practitioners, and for a valid reason: Most privacy violations result in severe consequences, including huge penalties and even jail time for some medical providers.

What makes matters more challenging is the fact that HIPAA laws are vague on what actions one should take to make website HIPAA-compliant.

Is Your Medical Practice Website HIPAA-Compliant?

As a healthcare practitioner, it is your responsibility to make sure that any PHI you are collecting is protected. Technological advancements can add efficiency to regular operations, but technological advancements can introduce new concerns with HIPAA compliance.

How do you make a HIPAA-compliant website?

Most healthcare providers transmit PHI at some point through their website. Remember, even appointment scheduling is an instance of transmitting PHI because it contains personal information that can be used in relation to the patient.

There are many steps that can be taken to convert your basic website into a HIPAA-compliant one. What works for you will depend on what you are trying to accomplish with your site and in what way PHI is present and transmitted.

Step #1: Transmission Encryption: Your first step is to use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which will protect your website. SSL is a standard web security technology that creates an encrypted link between a server and a browser. Critical information related to patients, which is contained in contact forms, appointment request forms and online contact forms, must be encrypted. You can protect the information by using an SSL certificate on your website. SSL complies with HIPAA’s data encryption standards and keeps private patient information safe. For a website, SSL is used to encrypt patient health-related information so that the initial transmission of PHI is secure. From here, the PHI can either be stored on a server or passed through to someone via email. However, it is important to ensure that your SSL configuration is strong enough to prevent encryption methods that are too weak. In addition, what if the visitor submits the PHI that is collected on your website and then your website transmits or stores that information elsewhere? This process should also be HIPAA-compliant.

Step #2: Backup: You must ensure that the PHI stored on your website or collected from your website is backed up and can be recovered in case of an accidental deletion. Whether you store data on your own server or a third-party server, it is critical to ensure that the hosting partner is HIPAA-compliant. Your server should have an antivirus installed, provide offsite backup and firewall and OS patch management. Most hosts provide this service for information stored on their servers. If your website sends information elsewhere, then those messages must also be backed up or archived, and you must take care that those backups are robust and accessible only by authorized people. It is important to note that the PHI stored in backups must also be protected in a HIPAA-compliant way – considering security, unique authorization controls and backup.

Is Your Medical Practice Website HIPAA-Compliant?

Step #3: Authorization: Who can access the PHI that resides on your website or is collected there? Is the PHI only accessible by authorized personnel having unique and audited access controls? This is where your HIPAA-compliant web hosting provider can help. However, you have to make sure your hosting provider is a trusted Business Associate with a privacy agreement. If your website collects PHI and sends it to you or others through an email solution, it is critical to understand who can access those messages. Can anyone with access to your email or the messaging system access this information? If your website stores or transmits PHI, does your website enforce unique and secure logins, which means only authorized people can access that information?

Step #4: Integrity: This means PHI should not be tampered with or altered. Unless the PHI that you transmit and store is encrypted, there is no way to prevent it from being tampered with or to verify if tampering has occurred. It is up to you to determine if tamper-proofing your PHI is needed and how to best accomplish that. Generally speaking, using SSL or AES encryption can accomplish this very task nicely.

Step #5: Storage Encryption: Is the PHI being encrypted before being stored or archived? Though it is highly recommended, it is up to your practice to determine if this is needed. If storage encryption is essential, then you need to ensure that all collected and stored PHI is encrypted and can only be accessed by the right personnel with the appropriate keys. This is important to make backups secure and to protect critical data from access by unauthorized people. Storage encryption is especially important in cases where the data may be backed up or stored in locations out of your control.

Step #6: Disposal: Can the PHI be permanently disposed of after it is no longer needed? This sounds easy, but you must consider all of the places where the PHI can be backed up and stored. You must ensure that those backups can be permanently deleted. You have to keep in mind that every location where the information is stored could be making backups and saving copies of your data. It is up to you to determine how far you want to go to ensure complete data disposal to be HIPAA-compliant.

Step #7: Business Associate: It is essential to have a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement with every vendor that handles your PHI. If your website or PHI is stored on a vendor’s servers, then you must have a Business Associate Agreement with them. This agreement will ensure that the vendor will follow the HIPAA security requirements concerning your data and servers. It is important to choose a provider who will not make your website HIPAA-compliant unless your designers take the relevant steps to ensure that its design and functionality are HIPAA-compliant.

As a healthcare practitioner, it is your responsibility to protect patient information from external threats such as thefts, hacks and data loss. If you probe deeper within the medical community, there are additional guidelines established by HIPAA. If you are handling any patient-related data through your website, it is important to have a HIPAA-compliant website, or you will fear to violate the HIPAA Security Rule. Even if you are not collecting PHI, you should still consider making your website HIPAA-compliant. This is because HIPAA-compliant websites are more secure and can prevent hackers from inserting fake forms to collect critical patient data such as Social Security numbers.

Is Your Medical Practice Website HIPAA-Compliant?

Wrapping up

If your medical practice does not store or transmit PHI, then having a HIPAA-compliant website is not essential for you. However, we would still advise you to consider conforming to HIPAA regulations because at some point you will be handling PHI through your website.

When it comes to HIPAA-compliant web hosting, we know there are a lot of weeds to be pulled. However, with the right approach and security measures in place, you can focus on providing quality care versus worrying about your compliance and capabilities.

Do you need some help with HIPAA-compliant web hosting? Do you have a question? You can contact one of our healthcare marketing experts for a free consult.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Why Your Medical Practice Needs SEO – Benefits and Best Practices

Why Your Medical Practice Needs SEO – Benefits and Best Practices

A steady stream of new patients is the lifeblood of any successful medical practice. However, like any other business attempting to expand its customer base, medical practices looking to acquire new patients in a crowded marketplace can face a lot of challenges. With hundreds of thousands of healthcare practitioners operating in the U.S., finding a way to separate your practice from the pack requires utilizing the latest marketing tools and techniques.

Marketing your medical practice once meant simply placing an ad in the Yellow Pages. However, today potential patients are turning to search engines to find local healthcare providers. According to a study, nearly 54 percent of potential patients under the age of 35 use search engines to find local medical practitioners, compared to 10 percent who use the Yellow Pages. Even older people have started to embrace search engines as a means of finding local healthcare providers, as 27 percent of people between the ages of 55 and 64 years used a search engine when looking for a medical practitioner.

In order to acquire new patients, search engine optimization (SEO) has become a necessary tool every practice needs to stay ahead in the ever-evolving marketing landscape. Almost 80 percent of searchers do not look past the first page of Google results when searching for local doctors. If your website does not rank well against your competitors, you could be losing out on potential patients who do not know about your practice. A strong SEO strategy means your existing and potential patients can find you easily and will feel compelled to give your website a look.

Now, how does SEO benefit your medical practice? When a potential patient types “physician in downtown Omaha” into his or her Google search engine, your name and website should show up among the first three listings. It is important to remember that not every physician’s name will appear on the first page of search results. You will need to implement extensive SEO practices to get your website to show up at the top of the search results. Being visible in the search results will increase the chances that a potential patient will book an appointment with you and may end up being a repeat patient.

Why Your Medical Practice Needs SEO – Benefits and Best Practices

Importance of SEO for medical practices

SEO is a compelling marketing tactic that can bring more qualified leads and patients to your medical practice. Moreover, studies have indicated that SEO has a better ROI than traditional marketing techniques such as TV and print ads. SEO provides visibility, credibility, branding, traffic, reputation and a high ROI to your medical practice.

Regardless of the size and specialty of your medical practice, implementing effective SEO strategies is key to attracting new patients and improving your bottom line. SEO can also help increase online visibility for your medical practice and build its reputation.

Increased visibility

When potential patients search online for your medical practice, it must appear high in the search engine rankings. Being at the top of search engine results puts your name in front of potential patients. Google is world’s leading search engine, so it is a strong endorsement when your practice name appears at the top of the search engines. Searchers trust Google, and as a byproduct of that, they trust your practice when it appears at the top.

Why Your Medical Practice Needs SEO – Benefits and Best Practices

Improved credibility

Most potential patients make mental notes of the keywords they enter into search engines. In the minds of potential patients, your website ranking is a vote of confidence. They feel if Google trusts this medical practice to be relevant, then it must be. Your potential patients may not realize it, but high search rankings make your practice more credible in their eyes.

Reduced patient acquisition costs

Acquiring new patients is one of your marketing goals. However, obtaining new patients may cost you more money than what they will pay to you. With effective SEO techniques, you can reduce the overall marketing budget because digital marketing strategies are less expensive than other forms of advertising. This means that you can bring in new patients much faster and for less expense. With lower marketing costs, you have the flexibility to invest in targeted outreach and spend more time streamlining your goals.

Increased traffic

While online traffic by itself is not going to make you any money, would you set up your office on a backstreet in Iowa or right across from Times Square? All those people walking around in Times Square may not make you any money, but some of them may become your customers. Appling the same analogy here, you still have to make an effort to attract new patients to your practice, but it is better to do business on a crowded street than on a deserted island. In addition, visitors coming to your website are qualified leads and were searching for a practice like yours when they found you. So they already have an interest in your services.

Higher ROI

SEO rewards your medical practice at a higher rate than other forms of advertising or marketing strategies. This is because SEO is an inbound marketing strategy and allows you to market to qualified leads who are looking for products and services similar to yours. In order to convey your message to your target audience, you need not interrupt their favorite TV show or take up expensive space in a magazine where they are reading an article. All you have to do is show up online when they are looking for medical practices like yours. In fact, you do not even have to convince your target audience to try your services. The only message you need to convey is that you are the perfect practice for them to visit.

Why Your Medical Practice Needs SEO – Benefits and Best Practices

Cost-effectiveness

SEO is one of the most cost-effective strategies as it targets potential patients who are already searching online for services similar to yours. SEO strategies can help you save money as opposed to traditional strategies such as cold calling. While cold calling is a proven strategy, the lead generation is 61 percent more expensive than that generated by SEO. In addition, because SEO targets patients who are already searching for similar services, the traffic is better-qualified than other marketing techniques, resulting in cost savings.

SEO best practices for medical practices

Creating an efficient SEO strategy requires you to be able to grow with an ever-evolving healthcare industry. Patient expectations, in addition to Google’s algorithm updates, keep healthcare marketers continuously making new adjustments.
Complacency will destroy your rankings, and this will be dangerous for any medical practice interested in surviving and growing in modern marketing. Considering that 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine, prioritizing SEO best practices is critical to the success of any medical practice.

Why Your Medical Practice Needs SEO – Benefits and Best Practices

By successfully implementing best practices, medical practitioners can significantly improve lead quality, build valuable relationships with patients, improve online reputation through online presence and better understand their target audience.

Here are nine essential best practices to help improve your SEO strategy in 2017.

1. Choose relevant keywords: SEO is all about selecting the most relevant keywords for your medical practice. To choose the most suitable keywords for your website, you will need to get into the minds of your potential patients. You will need to consider all the possible keywords they might type into the search engine in order to find a new doctor in their area. The more relevant keywords you choose, the more qualified leads you will get.

2. Decrease website load time: In addition to keywords, the next element that can affect your SEO strategy is how quickly your website loads. A website that loads quickly can support your SEO efforts. A website that does not load within a few seconds will fail to attract and engage potential patients.

3. Publish informative and original content: Rewriting existing content is acceptable to a certain extent, but copying content from other websites will damage your SEO rankings as well as your reputation. Besides, rewriting current content will not be able to engage your patients for long. Therefore, strive to be different and try to create unique content that other websites have not done yet. Implementing an established SEO strategy or hiring an SEO expert to help you with the task will significantly improve your search engine ranking.

Why Your Medical Practice Needs SEO – Benefits and Best Practices

4. Ensure accurate title tags: A title tag is a short description of your web page and can play a tremendous role in your SEO efforts. Title tags show up in three places – browser tabs, external websites and on the results pages of search engines. When optimizing your website for SEO, you need to ensure that each web page has an accurate and descriptive title tag. Since most search engines display only the first 60 to 70 words of the title tag, be sure to include the primary keywords at the beginning.

5. Optimize your website: Your website should be simple and easy to navigate in order to attract potential patients. The content must be fresh and regularly updated. For your website to rank higher in search engine results, it must adhere to basic quality standards. In addition, make sure your website is optimized for mobile users.

6. Ensure optimum keyword density: Keyword density is a significant part of your SEO strategy. If you include your keywords too much, search engines will view your website as spam and may blacklist your website from results pages. However, if you use your keywords too little, search engines may not look at it as relevant to the corresponding keyword. The recommended keyword density is about 2.5 percent.

7. Consider chatbots: Chatbots can improve patient experience, boost engagement and provide valuable data for search engine optimization. When thinking about patient engagement in the online context, we usually think of a click. However, chatbots are designed to take engagement to the next level with an interactive conversation with the visitor. This presents the opportunity to get to know your visitor better, ask specific questions, include personalized messages and bring your brand to life.

8. Know your target audience: What kind of content you need to create depends on your target audience. The better you know them, the more useful content you will create. Without knowing your target audience, you may end up creating content on irrelevant topics, which would win you neither visitors nor good rankings. By creating a detailed buyer persona, you will be able to zero in on content that matters to your potential patients.

9. Improve patient engagement: Engagement is the ability to hold a visitor’s attention. In SEO context, engagement is a measure of the amount of time spent on a page. Recent research has found a positive correlation between engagement metrics and search rankings. According to Google, if a visitor spends more time on a web page, it is probably because he or she found the page useful. Moreover, because Google only wants to promote the best results to its users, it will place websites with strong engagement higher up in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Why Your Medical Practice Needs SEO – Benefits and Best Practices

Wrapping up

Phone books and Yellow Pages are not coming back. Moreover, while television and radio ads have their place in today’s changing marketplace, they are not as powerful as a well-placed SEO campaign. Investing in SEO will be a smart decision for a medical practice. It is never too late to get into this game. However, if you wait too long, you may end up playing a long game of catch-up.

SEO is an essential component in your overall digital healthcare marketing plan. Your website, social media management and paid advertising campaigns must all be designed to enhance your online presence. When you choose an online marketing firm to guide you through this process, it is essential that you find a company that takes a comprehensive approach to digital marketing.

In order to find out how the digital marketing team at Practice Builders can help your practice attract new patients and enhance its online reputation, call us today. We can answer all of your questions about how SEO can improve your medical practice and use our decades of experience to give your medical practice the boost you have been looking for.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

10 Tips to Double Your Medical Practice Leads

10 Tips to Double Your Medical Practice Leads

Without high-quality leads, your medical practice will most certainly collapse.

Leads are the potential patients who can become regular patients and ambassadors of your practice if you play your game right. Sure, a practice may have several key goals, but 66 percent of business goals focus on lead generation.

Healthcare marketers rely on a variety of channels to drive leads to their practice and boost conversion rates. However, often these channels do not yield the desired results. When you spend much time creating informative content hoping to attract leads, but you still are not getting the desired results, it can be disheartening. However, you are not alone.

What do your potential patients want? Once you have accurately answered this question and associated it with a high-converting landing page on your practice website, you will regularly generate leads. Attracting more leads will be easier if the majority of your attention is focused on connecting your landing page with other marketing channels.

Regardless of the marketing channel you are using, according to experts, inbound strategies generate 54 percent more leads than traditional marketing. This means you must focus on creating and sharing the right content with the right people. Once you have accepted and agreed to this approach, remember these tips to grow your leads faster.

1. Build an active online presence: Eight out of ten patients will turn to a search engine to seek answers to their health inquiries. Google handles nearly 3.5 billion searches per day. If your medical practice is not online, chances are many patients will not know you exist. Take the first step and create a website for your medical practice. Make sure your website is esthetically designed and easy to use, provides useful information and is mobile-friendly. With more than 60 percent of searches coming from mobile devices, a mobile-responsive website will set you apart from your competitors. However, simply having a website is not enough. The ultimate goal of having a website is to help potential patients learn more about your practice and services. An optimized website will increase potential patients’ trust in your services, encourage visitors to leave their contact information for mailing lists and enhance the ROI of your online healthcare marketing efforts.

2. Start a blog: According to a report, the top three goals of good content marketing are lead generation, thought leadership and brand awareness. This shows how crucial content marketing is for lead generation. That is because when you create unique and useful content, it has the potential to go viral and be seen by potential patients, eventually attracting more leads. However, for the content strategy to work well, you should write your own blog. It may interest you to know that almost 62 percent of marketers have their own blog. This is so they can attract their target audience who may end up becoming regular customers. Blogs are one of the most effective lead-generation tactics on the Internet. An updated and consistent blog can help you boost your search engine ranking and make it easier for potential patients to find you.

3. Leverage email marketing: Email marketing is one of the best sources for lead generation. Many medical practices turn to email marketing to generate leads as it has proved to be the most successful tactic over the years. Lead generation through email marketing is mainly dependent on how effectively you draft your message. Your email needs to capture the reader’s attention, provide relevant information, encourage interest and have an effective call-to-action. To achieve this, you must first start by building a compelling subject line. The subject line of your promotional email determines whether the potential patient is going to read your email and become a vital part of your email. Write the email’s subject line in a way that provides value, is relatable and is actionable. In addition, the subject line must be short and stand out from your lead’s cluttered mailbox.

10 Tips to Double Your Medical Practice Leads

4. Use lead-generation tools and services: With so much importance being given to lead generation, healthcare marketers have found innovative ways to generate quality leads. They utilize lead-generation tools that provide verified leads and do not take up much time. An important point to remember while choosing automated lead-generation strategies is to refrain from purchasing bulk email databases. This is an unhealthy practice as the deliverability of such emails is not guaranteed or authentic.

5. Be present on social networks: Social networks are not a fad, they are a revolution. Nearly 63 percent of businesses using social media have confirmed that it has increased their marketing effectiveness. More and more potential customers are using social media to interact with local practices over traditional communication channels. Social media can help keep your practice top-of-mind and increase referrals from existing patients. However, you do not need to be present on every social network. Some social networks might be more important to you than others. It is important to figure out where your buyers are and make sure you are there, too.

6. Nurture strong relationships your existing patients: Sometimes we get so engrossed in getting hold of new that we forget what is already in front of us. If you are using your practice’s resources to attract new patients, you need to spare some resources for your current patients. You can consider reversing the scheduling process by following up with patients for a new appointment slot. You can also send email reminders before scheduled checkups to ask your patients to post an online review for your practice. Similarly, if you have prescribed a medication to a patient, you must follow up and ask if the treatment plan is working or if the patient is experiencing side effects. These small steps can mean a lot to a patient as it shows that you care about their well-being, which will help keep them around for a long time.

7. Optimize your website for search engine optimization (SEO):
It is critical to include local SEO strategies in your healthcare marketing plan so that your medical practice shows up in search engine results. This is because when potential patients are searching for medical practices online, you want your medical practice to show up within the first few on top. Having your practice website appearing in the top five slots of a search engine is important for attracting new leads.

8. Encourage online patient reviews: Online reviews are one of the most efficient ways for growing new leads and attracting potential patients to your practice. You must encourage your existing patients to share their feedback through an online review. You can do this by sending a follow-up email thanking the patient for his or her visit and encouraging them to review your practice online. You can also offer discounts or free services to motivate patients for posting online reviews for your practice. With the patient’s permission, you can also make these reviews public by sharing them on your practice website. It will not only help improve lead generation and strengthen patient relationships but will also get your name out there.

10 Tips to Double Your Medical Practice Leads

9. Build a mobile-responsive website: Having a professional and easy-to-use website is critical for the growth of your practice and for attracting new leads. Make sure your website is responsive and works well on mobile devices. The objective of your practice website is to educate your potential patients so they can make an informed decision and call your office for an appointment. Creating an informative and easy-to-navigate website is the most important marketing tool at your disposal.

10. Deliver unmatched service: There is no way your existing patients will refer others to your practice if they are not satisfied with your attitude and services. You have to show real interest in your existing patients. Your bedside manner and the look and feel of your practice are very important. You must be able to communicate with your patients and make your presence positive and uplifting.

Generating high-quality leads is an integral step toward growing your medical practice. The more potential patients you drop into your sales funnel, the more leads you are likely to produce and the more patients you will land. You must remember: In order to attract good leads, you must be looking in the right place. Moreover, the more active you are in the process, the more success you will have. If there is one “secret” to producing qualified leads, it is being more active.

At Practice Builders, we know how to attract and generate new leads for medical practices. In fact, we have a whole team of experts who can help you earn the trust of potential patients. Contact us today to design a unique lead-generation strategy for your medical practice.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Want to Increase Your Website’s Online Visibility? Medical SEO Is the Answer

Want to Increase Your Website's Online Visibility? Medical SEO Is the Answer

For any medical practice with an online presence, the goal is to rank high in search engine results. If your website lands anywhere past the second page of Google, potential customers are unlikely to find it in their search. So, how can you increase the online visibility of your healthcare website? The answer is – search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is an effective way to increase your website’s search engine results page (SERP) rankings. The higher your website ranks, the more likely it is that potential patients looking for a healthcare provider will see your listing rather than your competitor’s. First-page ranking for your medical practice website is crucial because not many potential patients will search past the first two pages of search results, and almost none will click past the third page.

The goal of medical SEO is to get your practice website, blog and social media posts to show up when a potential patient enters a relevant keyword.
Medical SEO drives organic traffic to your website
There are two ways to be on the first page of search engine results: paid and organic. When you pay to have your practice listed near the top, you appear as one of the first three results at the top of the page. This is the fixed placement for paid results. According to research, merely 33 percent of searchers click on paid results.

The other type of search result is the organic result. These results are the web pages that Google considers the best in a given market or industry. According to research, almost 90 percent of searchers click on these results.
You must make sure that every part of your online marketing strategy is directed toward improving your organic search results. Whether it is optimizing your website’s keywords, targeting your blogs or creating social media profiles, you should always be looking to expand and enhance your online footprint.

The more you optimize your website for medical SEO, the more potential patients will click on it and the higher it will rank on Google.

Want to Increase Your Website's Online Visibility? Medical SEO Is the Answer

Finding the right keywords is critical

A strong healthcare SEO strategy starts with identifying the most relevant keywords to incorporate into your online content. This is much more complex than simply mentioning the types of services your practice offers. In addition to identifying and mentioning your unique services, you need to include your office location and the type of patients you are trying to attract.

It is critical to invest a considerable amount of time in identifying the most relevant keywords that will launch your website to the top of search results. This process involves researching your medical practice and analyzing what strategies your competitors are executing.

Incorporating the keywords into your strategy

Once you have established the keywords, you need to learn the science behind incorporating them keywords into your marketing strategy. For every blog post and landing page, there is a method of tagging keywords and incorporating them into your website so that search engines can quickly find your content.

There are subtle and natural ways to incorporate keywords into content. You can consider naming images and focusing on keyword saturation and tagging. While these processes may seem technical, they play an important role in the SEO marketing.

Post useful content

Google’s algorithm rewards websites that have fresh and extensive content with higher search rankings than competitors. In order to make the most of your SEO strategy, you must create engaging content that will connect with your target audience. It is important to post useful content because the algorithm is designed to search for keyword stuffing. This means you cannot overuse the keywords within a small text block just to trick the algorithm into giving you a better ranking.

Creating engaging and relevant content is an art. It is important to create content that connects with your target audience and helps your website rank at the top of search engine results.

Medical SEO strengthens your online marketing efforts

SEO is an essential component in your healthcare marketing plan. Your website design, social media posts and advertising campaigns must be designed with an aim to enhance your practice’s online footprint. When you choose a marketing firm to guide you through this process, it is important that you find an organization that takes a comprehensive approach to healthcare marketing.

Your practice vs. your competition

While you are executing or paying an agency for your practice’s SEO, remember that your competition may be doing the same thing.

Personalized and targeted marketing is one of the most talked-about search ranking factors in 2017. If you are running a medical practice in a competitive city, you will need to localize the content to a specific audience while analyzing competitors with a micro-focus. Your competition will be conducting similar SEO strategies to rank better in search rankings. The first page of Google search is a constantly shifting and moving target.

Are you looking for the best digital healthcare marketing agency?

If you want to make sure your hard-earned dollars are not going down the drain, you must ensure that the digital marketing firm you choose has an established track record of serving other clients in your industry. At Practice Builders, we know the healthcare industry like the back of our hands because we devote time and resources to helping customers grow their medical practice.
When you trust the team at Practice Builders for your medical SEO needs, you can rest assured that you are putting your online marketing in experienced hands.

To find out how the dedicated and experienced team at Practice Builders can help your medical practice attract new patients and improve online presence, download your free copy of The Complete SEO Guide For Healthcare Practitioners.

You can also contact us for a free consultation on how SEO can improve your medical practice and how we use our decades of experience to give your medical practice the boost you have been waiting for. When you choose Practice Builders as your digital marketing partner, you will get years of medical SEO expertise behind your website.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Medical Practice Marketing: The Art and Science of Storytelling

Medical Practice Marketing: The Art and Science of Storytelling

Storytelling is an age-old means of transferring knowledge. Most stories we heard when we were children were passed down from our parents or grandparents and from one generation to the other. Storytelling is a great communication tool that has been used to impart valuable life lessons.

Stories touch emotions. One goal of storytelling is to persuade the audience. We have all heard of Noah’s Ark, The Odyssey and Shakespearean plays that discuss sentiments and moral values. Today, the same age-old storytelling is taking the digital marketing arena by storm. Putting traditional advertising strategies to rest, most businesses are telling their own stories, and healthcare is no exception.

Any business can benefit from storytelling in its digital marketing strategy. However, for medical practices, there is much more on the table. Storytelling engages patients at an emotional level. In medical practice marketing, storytelling humanizes a medical practice, builds trust and communicates values. By knitting the warmth of stories with knowledge, storytelling builds trusted brands and stronger relationships.

The potential of storytelling is no secret. Stories stimulate our brains. People remember stories and react to them. According to anthropologists, storytelling is a universal feature of every culture and country. According to OneSpot, Americans consume more than 100,500 digital words every day, and almost 92 percent of them want these words in the form of a story.
Why do stories encapsulate the mind?

A “story” and the art of “storytelling” each have their benefits. Here is why stories are more effective than plain data talk:

  • The human brain is designed to think in specific story terms. We understand experiences better when narrated in the form of a story.
  • Human memory is enhanced by the story. According to research, we tend to remember the information shared through a story than the one presented through points.
  • Stories create compassion.

The complexity of healthcare services, combined with the emotional suffering associated with illness and diagnosis, can be addressed through effective storytelling.

According to research, 78 percent of customers trust recommendations from family and friends, and 63 percent of customers believe healthcare information from friends is credible even if those peers are not experts. When these statistics are fused with an understanding of how our brain processes stories, it becomes apparent that information, when presented in the form of stories, can create real users of the products. Storytelling is the most effective strategy to build a lasting connection with a target audience.

Stories are easier to understand and remember because the emotional response helps the brain break down complex facts. The story acts as a medium to explain something much more complicated.

In the past, healthcare marketers have been hesitant to create stories around diagnosis and treatment options, thinking such topics are too serious for storytelling. They forgot that the heart plays a crucial role in engaging the brain. Stories take away our fear. People do not feel alone when they are listening to, or imagining, a story.

Storytelling as a strategic business tool

Storytelling for practice marketing is more than just an entertainment factor. If your patients cannot see themselves as a character in your story, they will not remember it or learn from it. If your patients can put themselves into the story, and feel the positive result played out by the characters, they start participating emotionally. Once they start participating emotionally, they become engaged.

Now, more than ever, there are tools and solutions available in the market to help healthcare marketers understand what makes patients tick. It is important to appreciate the needs, wants and habits of your patients in order to be relevant in an incredibly competitive marketplace.

In addition to boosting organic search rankings and engaging with your patients, storytelling is important to your medical practice marketing for a few key reasons.

Storytelling is a foundational aspect of your practice marketing strategy. Neuroscience indicates that storytelling makes things “click” for customers. Research has revealed that stories create stronger ties to influencing how customers act. All of this data points to positive outcomes in improving patient engagement. But how can you do it? What “stories” should you showcase?
How can you reach your target audiences?

Every day, medical practitioners are flooded with thousands of questions. The industry is growing, and the rules are changing. Most of you would agree there is an education gap. As a medical practice owner, you can use relevant incidents to help your patients understand his or her illness or treatment options.

Medical Practice Marketing: The Art and Science of Storytelling

How to tell better stories?

Anyone can tell engaging stories when he or she has the right tools, relevant information and enough support. Your healthcare facility can empower its storytellers by encouraging their talents, finding stories worth telling and removing barriers along the way.

1. Investing in talent: The first step to telling engaging stories is to empower your storytellers. You must invest time and resources in the storytelling process. You must have people in your facility with unique healthcare stories to share. However, do not expect them to add storytelling tasks to their already full workload. Successful storytelling takes time. A significant part of storytelling is an honest assessment of your team’s skills to identify where you may need help. In addition to quality content writing, good storytelling includes multimedia content. Whether it is graphics, images, videos or other engaging content, make sure your team members have the resources they need to tell great stories.

2. Finding stories worth sharing: The key factor is relevance. Your patients will not engage with your stories unless they understand how and why these stories matter to them. Your patients are not interested in listening to the kind of news that other healthcare facilities put out in press releases. Relevance is the overlap between what you want to say and what your patients want to hear. Relevant stories comprise a wide range of topics, including:

  • Informative material presented in thought-provoking ways
  • Actual engagements with staff and patients
  • Strong and useful points of view on controversial yet healthy topics
  • Brainstorming on timely issues
  • Patient-centric topics

3. Removing barriers to successful storytelling: Some barriers may keep coming up. Probably the most common concern is about patient privacy under HIPAA. Of course, patient privacy is important, and you must have permission before discussing their stories. However, many patients are willing to share their stories with the community, so do not hesitate to ask.

Another barrier to storytelling is approval. This is when a piece of content needs to be approved by so many people that it never sees the light of day. Simplify the approval process to as few people as possible.

In healthcare content marketing, your overnight success will take much longer than overnight. The purpose behind creating engaging stories is not to go viral, though it will be a bonus if it does. The aim is long-term relevance and reaching your business goals. Creating and distributing better stories can help you achieve those goals in the long-term.

How can storytelling help your practice grow?

The mission of medical practices using storytelling as a marketing tool should be to help patients relate the stories to the benefits of their services. Telling stories that do not connect to your brand or services will entertain, but it will not offer value or increase your revenue.

When developing stories, you must identify how your services help your patients. What problems do your products and services solve? What makes your practice different from the competitors? The answers to these questions will help you create compelling content that has business value.
Here are five of the most compelling advantages that storytelling brings to your medical practice:

1. Engages patients: If the story is good, you will have the listener’s attention. When you have their attention, you have almost won. With storytelling, each word can spark emotions. If you succeed in touching your patients’ feelings, you can also influence them to engage with your brand.

2. Is sharable on social media: If your patients read a piece of content that they connect with, they will share it on social networks, which will make your content more visible. By reaching people across your patients’ networks, your content can get more views, and your practice could acquire more patients.

3. Creates a connection: Every business has stories. By creating your content around an interesting story, you can easily relate to your target audience. When patients feel connected to your practice, you will gain their trust and loyalty.

4. Establishes authority: When you focus on storytelling and start creating relevant content for patients, you demonstrate that you share their concerns. Storytelling is 92 percent more effective than traditional advertising at increasing awareness and establishing authority. This is because when your patients have a problem, they think about you as their potential problem-solver.

5. Creates repeat readers: When patients like what they read, they are likely to come back for more interesting content. Repeat readers can help you establish patient loyalty as the online content acquires “followers” and subscribers.

Medical Practice Marketing: The Art and Science of Storytelling

Conclusion

Having said all that, how do you plan to embrace storytelling in your healthcare content marketing? We are not suggesting you revamp your blog or website. In fact, you can add storytelling techniques into your already established blog in order to enhance the user experience without tweaking your high-quality content. By making your content more relatable, you will give your patients even more reasons to come to you for their healthcare needs.

In healthcare, as in any other industry, there are plenty of storytelling opportunities. All it takes is a keen eye and a willingness to take the path less traveled. By sharing information in the form of a narrative, rather than a white paper, you will garner more attention, engagement and respect from your patients.

Stories are not a waste of time. They are good for practices like yours. Identify the stories in your practice. You can choose to promote the stories behind your patients and their recovery, the stories that connect your values to your business goals. Unique stories and effective storytelling are at the heart of medical practice marketing, doctor marketing and physician-patient relations. In order to experience successful practice marketing, tell better and unique stories. We help medical practices uncover and communicate unique stories. Are you ready to share yours?

Medical Healthcare Marketing

8 Healthcare SEO Tips to Keep Medical Practices in the Game

8 Healthcare SEO Tips to Keep Medical Practices in the Game

Healthcare marketers are beefing up their investments in content. However, in order to leverage those investments, they will have to put some time and effort into learning the new rules for SEO, or search engine optimization. The days of driving traffic to your website by attractive headlines with keywords are long gone, experts insist, and the new SEO rules revolve around another big-money marketing focus: user experience.

Historically, the experts have been recommending that people focus on keywords. However, search engines are more intelligent now, and content creators have less control over how and where their web pages are appearing in search engine results and what words they are showing up for.

According to Search Engine Journal, SEO leads have a close rate of 14.6 percent, while outbound leads such as emails have a close rate of only 1.7 percent. Are you still questioning the importance of SEO for your medical practice? Almost 56 percent of the American adults are smartphone users, which highlights the importance of ranking high for searches that potential patients might be making from their mobile devices.

Organic visibility is a challenge for most industries, but it is especially challenging and competitive in the healthcare industry. This is because if potential patients cannot find you when they are searching for a provider, you have missed your opportunity to get that conversion. Not only do you have to develop relevant and helpful content, but it has to be optimized so that searchers will see it in the search engine results.

Here are eight SEO tips for healthcare providers that will help you grow your organic search volume, make your sales funnel more efficient and help you grow revenue.

8 Healthcare SEO Tips to Keep Medical Practices in the Game

1. Optimize for local search: Managing your local presence is the most critical task for any healthcare provider. According to Google, almost 73 percent of all online activity is related to local searches. Your medical practice, for the most part, relies on people who live in or near the same area where you are located. For instance, when a potential patient searches for “physician in Edison” on Google, various options come up on the first page of search results. If you are a physician in Edison, then you will want your medical practice listing to appear in the top few positions in the search engine results. Correct?

According to a survey from Search Engine Land, 50 percent of customers who searched their mobile phones visited the store within a day, and 34 percent who searched on their desktop did the same. This means the ranking has a direct influence on in-store traffic.

Google My Business is Google’s business listing service. This service allows you to develop a page where you can add vital information about your medical practice that people are searching for, including your address, work hours, phone numbers and services. Another helpful online tool for local search is Moz Local. You can use this tool to create and maintain business listings on various websites and online directories that factor into most of the search engine results.

2. Encourage online reviews: Positive patient reviews are an essential element in establishing the quality and trustworthiness of your practice. According to a study by Moz, the most popular review sites for medical professionals are Healthgrades, Yellowpages, Yelp, Yahoo Local and Google+ Local. Do not hesitate to ask patients for reviews. Satisfied patients will be more than happy to oblige. Here are some ways you can encourage patients to review your practice online:

  • If you send out a newsletter, you can ask your patients to review your practice on Google or Yelp.
  • You can place a sign in your office, with detailed instructions on how and where to post online reviews for your practice.
  • You can place links and call-to-action on your website, encouraging visitors to review your practice.

3. Choose relevant keywords: The most important thing to decide is what keywords you want to use. These keywords will help Google know what your website is all about. You should compile a list of keywords that patients often use related to your specialty. A good way to do this is to think of all the questions they might ask. For instance, if you are a pediatrician in Queens, what might your potential patients ask Google? They might search for “best pediatrician in Queens.” Picking the most relevant keywords can be tricky. Creating content around relevant keywords will increase your chances of showing up in search results. You can also consider hiring an SEO professional if you do not have time to research keywords.

4. Optimize title tags and meta descriptions: You must fill in metadata on the administration side of your practice website. The metadata consists of a title, description and tags. The title tag acts as the title of the web page at the top of the browser and in the blue text in the search engine results. The title tags tell the search engine what your website is all about, and it should not exceed 60 characters. Make sure to include relevant keywords. A meta description describes the content of the page and should be written with an aim to provide more information about your website. You should try to keep it short, concise – under 160 characters. The idea is to answer the questions entered by potential patients in the search engine. In addition to using keywords within the content on your website, you must be sure to use relevant keywords in meta data.

5. Publish unique content and update regularly: There is no substitute for engaging and unique content. Useful content attracts and engages website visitors, and the more qualified traffic your website has, the more authority you are likely to have in search engine results. You can include content on your website a variety of ways:

  • Blogs, guest articles and white papers
  • Videos and podcasts
  • Infographics and slideshows
  • eBooks, calculators and apps
  • Conferences and seminars

While an effective SEO strategy must be implemented when creating website content, never compromise good writing with matching keywords. Remember that your readers are your patients, not search engines. Regular content updates play an integral role in improving the relevancy of a website. Although individual factors will determine the frequency of updating your website content, it is a good idea to update your website at least once a week.

Blogging is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your website updated with information that your patients will find interesting.

6. Select trusted inbound backlinks: Inbound backlinks have a significant influence on your organic rankings. These are one of the key factors used by search engines in determining your website’s authority. The more authority your practice website has, the higher it will rank for keywords. While the number of links is important, it is not everything. Ideally, the linking site should be relevant to your website. This is the biggest reason why link farming does not work. Just having random websites linking to your practice website is a trick that the search engine algorithms have learned to work around. Therefore, your backlinks should originate from sites that are trusted by search engines. By creating valuable content, your inbound links will increase over time and help your website strengthen its position for relevant keywords.

7. Be active on social platforms: If you are creating and publishing quality content, then make it a point to share it via social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Did you know that as of 2014, YouTube became the second-largest search engine? Therefore, when you choose social platforms that align with your target audience, you increase the likelihood of them noticing your brand. You can add a Twitter feed to your website or embed YouTube videos. These strategies will not only help attract visitors to your website but also provide a great link-back potential. Embedded videos and social feeds are a great call-to-action that can encourage visitors to stay loyal to your practice.

8. Optimize for mobile devices: Being mobile-friendly is just as critical for healthcare websites as it is for other businesses. According to a recent marketing study, 51 percent of time spent on the Internet in the U.S. is on mobile devices. In addition, 62 percent of smartphone owners use their devices to look up online healthcare-related information. Furthermore, Google considers mobile-friendliness as a factor that will determine how your website will rank in mobile search results. Therefore, if your website is not responsive, you could be losing out on organic traffic.

Your practice, SEO strategies and competitors

One of the biggest ranking factors in 2017 is personalized marketing. If you run a medical practice in a competitive city, like many other readers of this blog, you will need to localize content to your target audience while keeping an eye on competitors.

Your competitors will be conducting similar strategies to achieve better search rankings. The front page of Google, therefore, is constantly shifting and moving.

You must start optimizing your website for greater online visibility. By now, hopefully, the complexity and depth of SEO are clear. You must remember that SEO is an ongoing process, and not a quick-fix solution. However, the goal is to create a seamless and valuable experience for your patients.

It is understandable to expect overnight results, especially with the time, effort and investment you might be putting into your digital marketing strategies. However, it will be unrealistic to expect overnight changes, and you will be in for a frustrating experience by wasting time and money on implementing the cheap and easy tricks.

8 Healthcare SEO Tips to Keep Medical Practices in the Game

Do not forget:

  • SEO is a long game.
  • You will need to invest money and time.
  • Continual re-evaluation of strategies is common.

Do you have any questions about SEO for medical practices? SEO is just one of the many practice marketing techniques we use to help medical practices become reputed and profitable. You can contact us to learn more about how we use practice marketing solutions to attract new patients, improve online reputation and improve your bottom line.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

As a marketer, you must have invested a lot in marketing strategies in order to boost your website traffic. After tremendous amounts of content creation, social engagement and paid media, you think of celebrating because your website is finally able to pull in thousands of unique visitors every week. However, if your conversions are not picking up and growth is slow, then this is not the right time to celebrate. While it is critical to attracting more visitors to your website, those visitors are of no significance if they are not resulting in appointments. Unfortunately, website visitors do not grow your practice. Patients do. And if your website is not helping you improve conversion rates, it is not serving you well. This is where conversion rate optimization can benefit you.

Instead of attracting more visitors to your website, conversion rate optimization focuses on making your website more effective so that your existing visitors feel motivated to convert to patients.

No doubt, conversions are difficult to achieve. According to research, strong conversion rates hover in the range of 3 percent to 5 percent, depending on your specialty. The medical industry is tricky because your potential patients have a lot to consider before converting. Before getting into further details, here are a few points to get you thinking:

  • Typically, you will get merely five seconds to make an impression using a landing page. After five seconds, most of your visitors will leave.
  • Approximately 96 percent of your website visitors are not ready to buy.
  • The more landing pages you have, the more leads you are likely to attract.
  • A one-second delay in your website speed can cause a 7 percent reduction in conversions.
  • A/B testing is the preferred method that can help you increase the number of conversions.

If you too are struggling and looking to improve your conversion rates, you must look beyond the traditional tips and suggestions for bottlenecks.

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

Here are seven key healthcare website design principles to help you achieve better conversion rates:

1. User-friendly, responsive website design: A user-friendly web design is easy for visitors to navigate. If your website is too difficult to follow, visitors will become frustrated and will be less likely to convert to patients. Your website should also include your practice’s phone number, email ID, address and location in the footer. Ensuring that vital information is clear and prominently displayed will result in a higher conversion rate. Also, visitors may be accessing your website on whatever device they are using.

According to SmartInsights, more than 80 percent of people use smartphones as their primary method for browsing the Internet. It is important to be mindful of this trend because 30 percent of mobile users are likely to abandon a website if it is not optimized for mobile browsing. By having a responsive website, you place your practice in the best position to connect with highly engaged potential patients.

If your website is not using a responsive, mobile-compatible design, then it is time to upgrade your website. Failing to do so will not only make you lose potential patients but will also cause a significant drop in search rank and organic traffic.

2. Make your unique value proposition (USP) clear: There are plenty of healthcare providers out there, so it may become difficult to differentiate yourself from the pack. While the unique aspects of your practice may be known to you, conveying a clear value proposition to your visitors is vital to your conversions. Your visitors should clearly see on your landing page why they should come to your practice and what unique services you offer. What are your main selling points? Do you claim to provide the best services using the most advanced equipment? Do you offer discounts? Your landing page or homepage should address the top questions that potential patients may have about your practice. You are likely to increase your chances of converting a visitor into the patient if you have a clear value proposition that encourages the visitor to take action.

3. Test your calls-to-actions (CTA) buttons: What is the purpose of each page on your website? After a visitor reads a page, what is the action that you hope they will take? Do you expect the visitor to make an appointment or contact you for more information? The easiest way to accomplish your goals is to add a call-to-action button at the end of each page that prompts visitors to take the desired action. The CTA buttons are an essential element for influencing your visitors and should be easily visible. Make sure strong calls-to-action buttons are present on all pages and stand out from the other information on the page. According to research, changing your CTA buttons from green to red can increase conversions by as much as 34 percent. Also, using encouraging language like “Click to see pricing plans” can help increase conversions by 252 percent. Placing the prominent CTAs, such as ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Request an Appointment’ inside a circle or button, can make them stand out from other elements on the page. Make it easy for the visitor to complete the action.

4. Test your headlines: The headline can make or break your patient conversion rates. The first thing a visitor reads on your website is your headline. The first impression is formed within the initial few seconds, and the headline plays a major role in shaping that opinion. It is important to know what resonates most with your visitors. While there is no magic wand to help you find the way, there are a few guidelines that you can follow.

If your headline is unclear or mysterious, you confuse your visitors into leaving. On the other hand, a well-written informational headline can encourage your visitors to take a closer look at your services.

Having a clear headline with a unique value proposition is critical. You can consider adding discounts or free services in your headline in order to attract more eyeballs. You will need to test a couple of ideas and see what works. Be creative with your headlines and inform the visitor of your USPs. The goal is to serve them useful information in a creative way that pushes them one step closer to converting.

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

5. Try to shorten and simplify contact forms: Limit the forms only to the necessary number of fields. How many times have you been willing to sign up for a service, continue and see more than 25 fields to fill in? Will you not just leave the site? Respecting visitors’ time is critical. If you have managed to encourage the visitor to sign up, it is important that you do not make him or her drop off because your form is too long.

If your aim is to convince a visitor to fill a form, make sure the form is small. Ask for the information that you really need. For instance, in an appointment request form, you should include fields for the patient’s name, email address, location and maybe the current illness.

Build short forms, and only ask for what you need. Try not to include optional fields such as username, birthdate, security questions and verification code. In fact, do not force your visitors to create an account, even if they are coming for the first time. You will end up interrupting their conversion process.

6. Use video content to engage visitors: Videos are far more engaging than static text content and can help you build an initial human connection with potential patients when they are seeking a new healthcare provider. According to a study, one out of every three healthcare customers is actively searching for healthcare videos online. Before uploading video content, think about the needs of your potential patients and what they are hoping to find when they visit your website. Most potential patients want to feel a connection with a practice they entrust themselves to and want to feel cared for in the process. Video content is a powerful way to convey that message and bring more patients through the door.

7. Offer live chat: Implementing a live chat feature is believed to increase signup form fills by almost 31 percent. Many websites use chat tools to generate leads and convert them to customers. A website visitor is more likely to turn into your patient if he interacts with a person, and this is what a chat box does. Visitors can directly click on the chat box and ask questions to the patient care representatives at the other end. With a chat box, you will also understand what your potential patients need or want from your medical practice, and this insight can help you enhance your services.

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

Your website is the online face of your medical practice. By stepping back, taking a consistent look and implementing these seven key tactics, you will be able to elevate your website from a mere online brochure to a lead-attracting and converting tool. The healthcare industry, as well as the preferences of patients, have changed drastically over the past few years. It is time for your website to do the same.

An excellent healthcare website design should strike a delicate balance between conversion goals and esthetics in order to sell your services. Your website should be striking enough to grab the attention of visitors, yet useful enough to convey the essence of your brand. An effective healthcare website will let the content stand out without the distraction of visual elements.

These healthcare website design tips will not only improve conversion rates, but will also help you attract more qualified traffic.

At Practice Builders, we have specialized in medical marketing and healthcare website design for over three decades. This singular focus gives us the expertise, data and the insight to build healthcare website designs that provide one of the best conversion rates in the industry. Contact us for a free consultation and quote.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

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.

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  • 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