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Tag Archives: Medical

OU Medical System moves forward without management partner

The Oklahoma University Medical System soon will operate without a hospital system manager for the first time in 20 years after its affiliation deal with SSM Health fell through.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News

A Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing for Medical Practices

A Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing for Medical Practices

Instagram’s exceedingly visual interface has taken the social media marketplace by storm since its launch in 2010. The recent addition of a stories feature has crossed 100 million daily active users in just a matter of months. Not only has it been able to change the way people communicate and share information online, but it has also become one of the key platforms for product promotion and customer engagement.

When it comes to customer engagement, Instagram is better than all other social media platforms. No wonder more than half of the world’s best brands are on Instagram. Instagram is a very efficient way to promote your brand in front of thousands or millions of potential customers – even if you are running a medical practice. Because your potential patients are on Instagram, you should be here as well.

User base

Instagram’s user base is primarily comprised of millennials. Almost 90 percent of its 500 million active users are under the age of 35, which means to be successful on Instagram, medical practices need to shift their focus to a younger target audience. For instance, if you are a dentist, you will need to focus on teeth whitening and braces rather than on dentures.

In case marketing to a younger audience is not your focus, or if your services are not appropriate for millennials, do not ignore Instagram just yet. While the vast majority of users are millennials, there is still much scope for increasing your online presence. A substantial online presence means higher search engine rankings, building trust in the eyes of your patients, and a stronger authority in your field. Don’t forget, Instagram can work wonders in creating your brand awareness and general credibility among patients.

What makes Instagram different from other social media platforms?

The visual nature of Instagram is its competitive advantage. Humans are primarily visual creatures, and the ability to be a part of a platform that provides a never-ending feed of visually pleasing content can feel like a vacation from the thick walls of text-based information we receive on other platforms.

Visuals are known to invoke emotions, which allows medical practices to create deep connections with their target audience. Also, given the fact that Instagram users are allowed higher levels of anonymity as compared to other social networks, they feel free to like, comment and engage with posts more freely without the fear of being judged publicly. The feeling of anonymity is one of the reasons Instagram enjoys such enormous popularity and serves as a medium to explore issues that one might be cautious of on other social media platforms.
A Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing for Medical Practices

What kind of content to post

When deciding what to post to Instagram, do not forget that Instagram is a more personal app. Usually, posts that are too technical and promotional in nature are not welcomed by the users as much as personal posts are. Instagram users are more inclined toward viewing lively pictures related to events, informational material, customer engagement and events happening around the community.

For instance, if you are having a holiday party, you can post a picture wishing your patients a happy holiday. Alternatively, if your practice is involved in charity events, your Instagram followers will be glad to know and participate. You can let your followers find out when you bring a new physician on board by posting an individual or a group picture with an interesting caption.

Also, posting images and content that are in tune with trending topics will never go out of fashion. You must keep an eye on current trends and topics, even if you happen to choose “Throwback Thursdays.” You must try to participate in as many events as you can, and always use the appropriate hashtags. Make sure to keep your practice values in mind before participating in the latest trends and topics. Above all, always maintain a consistent style and tone in your Instagram posts.

Want to get noticed? Use #Hashtags

While it is important to post high-quality content regularly, merely doing this may not be sufficient. You will need to make sure your posts are being viewed. There are many ways to get users to notice and read your posts, but the easiest way is by using appropriate hashtags.

In case you are wondering, a hashtag is a phrase or a keyword that is preceded by the pound sign (#). Hashtags are critical because they turn into links, which allow the users to see every post that the hashtag was used for. For instance, if you use the hashtag “#braces” in your picture caption, anyone searching for that hashtag will see your image.

Hashtags help Instagram users search for content. The correct hashtag, or a combination of hashtags, will expose your medical practice to a wider customer base. By making your medical practice more discoverable, you will have a better chance of attracting followers, getting more content shares and increasing patient engagement.

In fact, according to social media experts, posts and images with at least one hashtag result in 12.6 percent more engagement than those without a hashtag. Here are some tips for using hashtags on Instagram:

  • Use as many hashtags as you can as this will maximize the exposure of your post. However, Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post.
  • Use some of the most popular and trending hashtags on Instagram. Including popular hashtags can give a little more boost to your posts. However, be careful as using too many hashtags can also increase spam activity on your profile.
  • Keep an eye on all the hashtags that your competitors are using.
  • If you want, you can hide all or some of your hashtags to give your posts a cleaner look. Using too many hashtags may make your posts look like spam or congested. If you want, you can include your hashtags in the comments below your post. This will still allow your post to be seen for all the selected hashtags.
  • Always add location tags to enable potential patients to find you when searching for your practice.

How to improve your Instagram strategy

With more than 500 million active users, Instagram is a growing social media platform buzzing with potential patients to engage with online. Since an increasing number of customers are following their favorite brands and businesses on social media, having a presence on Instagram is essential to connecting with your target audience. It also makes your medical practice more relatable as you share relevant experiences, showing your followers “behind-the-scenes” pictures and providing valuable advice on trending topics.

Here are some of the proven ways to help you leverage Instagram to boost customer engagement, grow followers and capture more leads into your sales funnel:

  • Make use of Instagram marketing tools: There are many Instagram tools designed to boost your online presence and make your marketing efforts more efficient. There are apps to help you edit images, provide analytical data, help you find influencers, schedule your content and manage your followers. For starters, you can pick one or two apps that work best for your practice and goals.
  • Use Instagram Stories to connect with your followers: According to research, users spend triple the time watching live video on social media than a prerecorded one. Considering this, social video can be an effective way to connect with your followers. Instagram Stories is one of the latest features and practices can “go live” and convey their message using video. While there are many ways to include a live video in your Instagram strategy, hosting live Q&A sessions where you answer your followers in real time may prove to be highly effective.
  • Hashtags are crucial: Hashtags are critical to your Instagram posts as they allow users to find you even if they have never heard of your brand before. Hashtags let you reach a wider audience by increasing your content exposure. One of the best ways to simplify hashtags is to observe what your competitors are using. You can see what is working by understanding the level of customer engagement they are generating.
  • Host contests: Online contests are an excellent way to get your followers involved in your content while making it interactive. Hosting contests will create buzz around your brand and will have a significant impact on increasing followership. You can host simple contests such as ‘Like this post to win’ or ‘Share this post to win…’ The information you gather will allow you to analyze customer engagement levels to find the best time to post in order to grow your audience. According to experts, the best times to post your content on Instagram is on weekdays between 12 pm and 1 pm. However, to understand the best times for your audience, you will need to collect and analyze some data.
  • Include visuals in your blog posts: Instagram is the fastest-growing social media platform to drive new eyeballs to your blog posts. Even though Instagram only allows you to post clickable links in your profile, you can still promote your blog post by sharing visuals in your Newsfeed. You can consider using text-based images that highlight key points in your content. Alternatively, you can consider complementing your content with an illustration. This is an excellent way to drive traffic and improve your SEO ranking.

Conclusion

Instagram is a proven platform to execute content marketing strategy for your medical practice. Implementing the tactics mentioned above will foster your social media goals while strengthening your presence on Instagram. If all of these tips and strategies seem overwhelming to you, you can begin with

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Does Your Medical Practice Need a SWOT Analysis?

Does Your Medical Practice Need a SWOT Analysis?

It seems like every marketing book provides a different understanding of the essential elements for building a successful medical practice. While some experts suggest quick-fixes, others advice a more “how-to” approach. Business books are often aimed at MBAs who understand corporate jargon, but not hectic medical practices. As a result, you may juggle and jostle to follow the next steps needed to grow your medical practice and attract new patients.

While your medical practice may have survived so far by acquiring a great location, hiring trained staff and delivering excellent patient experiences, the “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” method will only carry any practice so far. Sure, hard work is an essential for any medical practitioner, but flourishing in today’s ever-evolving environment requires strategic planning.

How can strategic planning help you strengthen the success of your medical practice while meeting patients’ demands?

Why do you need SWOT?

Strategic planning not only helps you look for opportunities to expand your medical practice, it also makes you analyze your current condition. A good strategic plan includes a mission statement, which leads to planning, documenting and executing all the milestones that will be met.

Strategic planning for your medical practice is similar to driving a car across the country. You must be aware of where you are, critically examine your present condition and set milestones in order to reach where you want to be. It can be achieved by implementing a technique called SWOT analysis.

A SWOT analysis allows a medical practice to explore internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats.

What is a SWOT?

A staple of strategic planning, a SWOT analysis is often used as a basis for business strategy. Using a mix of quantitative and qualitative information, this analysis will help you assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in your medical practice.

The data gathering process and performing a SWOT analysis may vary, and there is no single correct method. The size of your medical practice, the frequency of planning meetings and the changing markets are significant factors that affect the process.

What makes a SWOT analysis essential for medical practitioners is that it can help you see opportunities that you can exploit, understand weaknesses that you can manage and acknowledge threats that you may have overlooked.

SWOT analysis: Begin with the end in mind

For a driver to plan the fastest route, he must know his destination. Similarly, you must initiate the SWOT analysis by visualizing a destination, or an end point. To plan your “destination,” you will have to define success as you see it, both as an individual and medical practitioner. You must be specific about your aims and goals and must have a clear vision of your practice. To be effective, your SWOT analysis must be based on a vision that emphasizes your strengths and matches how you see yourself.

Essential SWOT elements

You can use a SWOT analysis to assess resources and capabilities with regard to the competitive environment in which your medical practice operates. Your findings will guide you in deciding the future course of action of your practice. You can consider the following elements:

Strengths: The idea is to identify your strengths and leverage their power to establish your brand. You can quickly identify your strengths through your dialogues with staff. Your internal strengths may include skilled staff, few bad debts, a strong brand name, niche patient base, excellent location, etc.

Some of the questions to be answered are:

  • What inspires new patients to come to your practice?
  • What advantages does your practice have over local competitors?
  • Do you have access to any unique resources?

Weaknesses: A SWOT analysis is your opportunity for tackling underperformance in your practice. It is often difficult to recognize management and personnel weaknesses, except with hindsight. While assessing your weaknesses, it is advisable to be realistic and form a strategy to address your challenges. You will have to dig deeper into how your patients perceive your practice. Some of the typical examples of weaknesses in medical practices include a shortage of staff, waiting time, bad financial management, high staff turnover, poor location, shabby premises, outdated equipment and inability to attract new patients.

Some of the questions to be answered are:

  • What factors cause you to lose patients or keep you from attracting new ones?
  • How do you measure up against competitors?
  • How do your patients perceive you?

Opportunities: One of the most efficient approaches when looking at opportunities is to analyze if your strengths present any opportunities to your practice. Alternatively, is it possible for you to create opportunities by eliminating some of the weaknesses? You can also discover opportunities by changing technology, treatments and policies related to your specialty. External changes may open up new possibilities. For instance, changes in the law that requires patients to purchase a product. Some of the opportunities may include great location, convenient and ample parking, sufficient and well-trained staff, cost-effectiveness, successful referral programs with physicians, etc.

Some of the questions to be answered are:

  • Where are the obvious opportunities facing you?
  • Are there any upcoming medical trends that may provide opportunity?
  • Are there any special conditions that may open doors for your medical practice?

Threats: It is imperative to realistic about threats when conducting a SWOT analysis. This is because the sooner you accept and face your threats, the sooner you can begin to handle them. Your aim must be to identify where your practice is and where you expect it to be in future. It is essential to visualize this before you embark on your journey to overcome the obstacles. Threats can be minor or potential enough to destroy your medical practice. You could be expecting changes that may directly or indirectly affect your practice and have far-reaching effects. For instance, a newly renovated office of your competitor may make your equipment look obsolete and may result in loss of patients. Threats may include anything that comes in the way of your goals. While no practice is immune to threats, the purpose of a SWOT analysis is to protect your practice against threats. Your threats could be stiff competition, staff dissatisfaction, security breaches, dissatisfied patients, etc.

Some of the questions to be answered are:

  • What difficulties do you face?
  • Should you be worried about your competition?
  • Are technological enhancements making your facility look obsolete?
  • Could your weaknesses threaten your business?
  • Can you convert threats into opportunities?

It is critical to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your medical practice. The objective of a SWOT analysis is to carefully assess the services, culture, brand image, weaknesses and opportunities. You can perform a SWOT analysis to determine the positioning of your products and services in the competitive marketplace. By analyzing your SWOT, you can assess the current state of your medical practice and plan a course of action to reach your goals.

By asserting your strengths and overcoming your weaknesses, opportunities will present themselves. Awareness of threats can help you survive in a cut-throat market. A SWOT analysis is similar to doing an in-house audit as it provides the tools and knowledge required for strategically planning for a more productive approach.

Assessment time

Make it a collaborative effort and focus on evaluating your personal ambition along with the practice’s goals. You may find the process a bit uncomfortable, but it will provide you with the ammunition to overcome and respond to weaknesses and threats. Here are some basic ground rules to help you streamline the process:

  • Keep your findings in perspective by limiting yourself to a maximum of three factors for each of the four categories.
  • Avoid over-complexity and confusion by keeping your replies simple and short.
  • Be specific and avoid gray areas.
  • Aim to form a competitive business strategy that helps you gain an edge over the competition.
  • Brainstorm to convert weaknesses and threats into strengths and opportunities.
  • Make sure you have trustworthy information when you are analyzing various elements.
  • Avoid making decisions based on opinion or guesswork.
  • Prioritize your tasks and reduce the list down to a reasonable size.
  • Document a plan of action for each item or goal.

What next?

Once you have brainstormed on all of these elements and evaluated your goals, you should have arrived at several tasks or items. These tasks or action items are what you should document in your SWOT chart. Go through the list and set priorities, make commitments and come up with strategies to deliver on each item. Ask yourselves:

  • How can we use our strengths for reaping more opportunities?
  • Can our strengths help us prepare for the threats?
  • Can our weaknesses be converted into opportunities?

You will need to answer these questions before you finalize strategies for achieving goals and positioning your practice for growth.

By using a SWOT analysis to assess internal and external factors, your practice can unveil hidden opportunities while maneuvering potential threats.

Contact Practice Builders to discover how we can help you conduct a SWOT analysis for your medical practice. The result will be increased patient volume, enhanced reputation and overall growth.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Attract More Patients and Grow Your Medical Practice With Blogging

Attract More Patients and Grow Your Medical Practice With Blogging

Seriously, when a doctor is trying to improve his or her online reputation or attract new patients, blogging is usually not considered a useful tool. A number of studies have indicated that blogging is the best way of showcasing your expertise. However, how many physicians ever write one? If they do, are they consistent in blogging? Blogging should be a critical component of your strategy for growing your practice, increasing revenue, enhancing your online reputation, retaining existing patients and attracting new patients.

So if you are working on getting your marketing strategy sorted out, blogging is one of the best ways of educating your current patients and reaching out to potential ones.

Blogging can be compared to a funnel that drives patients to your practice and, eventually, helps you grow your practice and increase revenue. Therefore, if you blog multiple times a month, not only does Google ranks you higher than your competitors, but other websites or journals will publish snippets of your content and give you attribution. Not just this, according to some recent studies, more than 60 percent of patients made an appointment purchase based on a blog post that they read.

When you consistently write relevant and informative articles, it enhances your credibility and builds trust between you and the target audience. All that you need to do is write a new blog every two weeks, share them on your social media profiles or send out in an e-newsletter. The best part is that you can reuse your blogs over and over again.

In case you are wondering about the essential components of an informational blog, here you go:

1. A interesting headline.

2. Around 500 words are usually sufficient.

3. Your target audience are patients. So refrain from using medical jargon. Keep the content simple.

4. Add a striking image that draws readers’ attention.

5. A call to action, if possible.

6. A link to drive the reader to your practice website.

Why blogging matters

You are right in thinking that in today’s busier-than-ever healthcare environment, not many medical practitioners have time to write blog posts in addition to managing appointments and promoting their practices. However, what you may not realize is that doctors who write blogs have numerous advantages over those who do not. Physicians who blog do so for a number of reasons, including patient education, promotion and to personify themselves. Blogs also allow you to connect with patients on a much deeper level.

In addition to expanding your reach, blogging can allow you to be a source of trustworthy health information for patients. A blog allows you to personalize your message from your experiences.

If you are getting motivated, here are some more benefits of writing a blog:

1. Increases visibility: Studies have indicated that 72 percent of patients search for health information online, but most of them do not scroll past the first page of search results. Therefore, it is important that your website shows up high on the search results page. While results may vary every time Google changes its algorithm, studies show that fresh content in a blog and frequent social mentions about your practice can make your website rank higher in search results.

2. Attracts new patients: Blogging is one of the effective ways to attract new patients to your practice. In order to be found by potential patients, you must create quality content that educates and informs your target audience. Your blog posts should provide value to your patients while targeting specific keyword phrases to maximize traction in search engines. Blogging is the starting point of marketing. Not only does it open news door to allow potential patients into your practice, it also builds trust and strengthens your credibility.

3. Helps you stand out: In today’s competitive medical field, it is important for doctors to find a way to make their practice stand out from the competition. Building and maintaining an informational blog is one of the best ways to establish yourself in your community. With time, simple medical blogs can transform into important sources of information that reflect the doctor’s dedication to the betterment of the community.

4. Offers an outlet for expression: Self-expression is a modern form of entertainment, and blogging provides an opportunity for self-expression. Sharing your experiences with peers or the public is a great way to offer yourself a release while adding value to your readers. Just by devoting time a few times a month to express and share your thoughts via a blog can be one of the simplest ways to release stress.

5. Personalizes your practice: While it is essential to maintain professional standards at all time, it is possible to share your personal experiences while keeping the anonymity of your patients in compliance with HIPAA guidelines. Blogging also allows you to show the real you to your patients. Also, having a professional online diary can give a doctor a sense of satisfaction.

Content ideas for engaging your readers

Blogs may vary in content and style, but most of them aim at educating patients, managing their illness and providing valuable health information. Blogs can act as stepping stones for earning patients’ trust. Here are a few content ideas that will make your blog stand out from your competitors:

1. Frequently asked questions: Find out what your patients want to know and write a blog post explaining the most common questions. The most accurate way of finding out what your patients want to know is through surveys and personal discussions. You can also visit social media pages to see what other patients are asking and the way other physicians are responding.

2. Latest news: A blog is an excellent way to share information on latest medical discoveries and news related to general health. With all the fake information going viral on social media these days, a physician can really help people understand the subject. However, instead of sharing primary content, include your views as a doctor regarding the issue.

3. Industry trends: Healthcare is always evolving, and you can use your blog as a platform to discuss upcoming trends and seasonal health problems that can be valuable for both you and your patients. By setting up news alerts, you can help your patients stay updated on emerging trends.

4. Discuss an event: If there is an event coming up, you can write a post about it. You can let your readers learn more about what to expect, highlights and other valuable information. Post-event, you can discuss key takeaways from the event.

5. Guest posting: This is another great way to increase your credibility and popularity and to attract readers to your blog. To start guest posting, you will need to identify and invite the top healthcare bloggers in your space who have the same readers that you want to target. You will have to decide on the frequency of posts and the type of content that you would like your guest bloggers to write. By having well-written guest posts on your blog, you may be able to establish yourself as an authority on the subject.

How often should you blog?

Blog sections on physicians’ websites is often among the top-20 most visited pages. However, many bloggers believe it is necessary to write a blog daily or weekly. The truth is, even occasional blogging can attract more patients to your practice as well as help you enhance your credibility. Here are some guidelines on how to yield maximum return with minimum effort.

1. Primary-care physicians: Primary care physicians mostly get more general health questions and are usually the busiest providers. Given their time crunch, it is acceptable for primary-care physicians to post a blog once a week. They can write on general health issues, in a conversational format, and answer the most common questions they keep hearing in exam rooms. Some of the general blog topics can be the probability of Ebola infections, tips for handling cold and flu, etc.

2. Specialists: A specialist can post a blog about twice a month, just enough to convey regular activity on the website. A specialist can reflect on what’s in the news related to the specialty. The best way to come up with ideas is to do a quick Google search for specialty-related conditions. Sometimes a little effort can go a long way to growing visibility and credibility, thus ensuring new patient growth.

In a nutshell, depending on your blogging goals, you will have to adjust the frequency of your blog post. However, here are some of the unwritten rules for your blog posting frequency:

1. Observe your competitors: If your competitors are blogging three times a week, you should be blogging at least that much.

2. For maximum growth: Post several times a day to drive the most traffic. To begin with, three times a day is considered best for active bloggers.

3. For steady growth: Post at least once a day.

4. For slower growth: Post at least twice a week.

5. For no strategic growth plans: Post once or twice a month.

Medical blogging sites are worth checking out

You could already be actively blogging on the major social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., but if you are not present on physician-only social networking sites, you are missing out on your target customers. Networking sites for medical professionals offer connection, information, crowd-sourcing and fun. Here are some of the best social networking sites where you need to be in order to promote your blog and grow your practice:

1. Sermo: With more than a half-million active users, Sermo is probably the most popular social networking site for healthcare professionals worldwide. According to the site’s policy, only licensed physicians can register there. This site focuses on connecting verified and certified medical professionals from across the globe, who are allowed to ask anonymous questions and have real-time interaction with peers regarding patient care in Sermo’s “virtual doctors’ lounge.”

2. Doximity: A newer kid on the block, Doximity has over a half-million users. Aimed at connecting US-based doctors in all specialty areas, more than 60 percent of all US physicians are claimed to have already signed up for its membership. The site also facilitates doctors to earn some of their category 1 CME credits by reading the online medical journals. This social network platform for doctors comes loaded with features and benefits.

3. DailyRounds: This is a service for physicians that blends specific features of a social networking site and a medical journal. Doctors can use DailyRounds to exchange knowledge, upload and view medical cases and access its drug database. They can also network with other physicians through iOS and Android apps.

4. DoctorsHangout: This is a professional networking site for doctors, residents and medical students globally. This social network can help medical professionals maintain existing personal and professional relationships and develop new ones by reaching out to other doctors around the world.

5. QuantiaMD: Founded as a platform for helping doctors collaborate, over 200,000 members are already using this platform to communicate and share critical information. QuantiaMD helps physicians stay ahead by communication with and learning from peers and specialists. This social networking site provides video content and presentations made by experts for higher-learning institutions.

6. Figure1: This social networking site targets healthcare professionals and medical students in more than 100 countries. The platform allows medical professionals to share anonymous images of an ailment, such as X-rays, and have discussions with their peers related to the pictures. This site helps doctors working in remote locations to connect with other doctors and gain more knowledge on rare illnesses. Figure1 guards the privacy of the patient by removing faces and other identifiable marks immediately when a doctor uploads the image.

Every doctor knows the importance of connecting with patients during an appointment. It elicits a positive response and encourages good reviews about the practice. Your aim should not only be to provide information to your patients, but also encourage them to set an appointment with your medical practice. This makes effective blogging an essential tool in your marketing strategy. It is what you should do to bond with your patients online and to connect with all of them any day and any time.

If you lack time or resources to write a compelling blog post, you should hire a marketing professional or agency who can make your blog a powerful part of your marketing efforts. Practice Builders has a dedicated team of writers who write regular blog posts for medical practitioners. Whatever your specialty is, we have a writer with the expertise to create relevant and informational blogs for you. If you are interested in learning more about our blogging services, contact our representative.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

A Complete Guide to Patient Retention at Your Medical Practice

A Complete Guide to Patient Retention at Your Medical Practice

There is a lot of information available about how to attract new patients to your medical practice, but not much thought is given to patient retention. What most medical professionals do not seem to realize is that retaining a patient requires less time and money than acquiring a new one.

In a recent patient case study, increasing the retention rate from 86 percent to 89 percent lead to over $ 150,000 in revenue. Also, retaining an existing patient is five times more cost-effective than to acquire a new one; yet only 15 percent of medical practices focus on patient retention.

Whether you have recently set up your practice or have a successful 20-year career, patient retention will always be critical to your success. As a medical professional, have you ever wondered why patients do not return to some practices? What do patients expect? When some of the patients were asked reasons for their dissatisfaction, this is what they reported:

1. Feeling of being neglected or left out

2. Poor communication or misinformation

3. Feeling rushed

4. Lack of description for tests and procedures

The real issue is: Medical practitioners do not have enough time to ensure patients’ needs are met. As a result, medical practices are always facing situations where patients drop out of treatments before their completion. Here are four main components of patient retention, which if implemented correctly, will help your practice:

1. Educate: Make sure you educate your patients on all the treatments you offer. Create a brochure to leave with your patients and tell them the URL to your website. Always keep your website and printed literature updated. You can play informational videos about your practice and services in your waiting area for your patients to watch.

2. Ask: You can ask your patients about their experience with your practice, and to return to your practice for any further needs. Your patients must know that you value them and the trust they have in you. You can request your loyal patients to recommend your practice to their friends and families.

3. Measure: In case the patient leaves your practice despite all efforts, you must learn the reasons behind this decision. Do not let such incidents go unnoticed or it will hurt your reputation and business. It is critical for you to measure patient satisfaction. However, measuring satisfaction is one thing, but implementing changes based on patient feedback is what will eventually matter.

4. Communicate: Always look for innovative and efficient ways to communicate with your patients while they are at your office. Keep communication lines open at all times. You can use patients’ email ids for sending out satisfaction surveys, monthly newsletters, discount coupons, etc. For a more personalized touch, you can call your patient after a procedure to check if they are recovering well. These gestures will make a pleasing impact on the way a patient perceives your practice. According to published reports, email marketing is the most effective tactic for patient retention, yet most medical practices lack an automated platform for providing the right information to the right patient at the right time.

So, do you have any strategies in place for retaining patients? Not every suggestion or plan that you read online will be tailored for your medical practice. Standard methods such as an active referral system, online visibility, SEO tactics, supportive staff and your commitment will ensure your success at retaining patients. Here are some of the basic, but effective, patient retention strategies to consider:

1. Inform patients about their next appointment: Make sure your patients are told the date and time of their next appointment and encouraged to return. While this may not seem vital, it is one of the most common causes of patients not coming back for further treatment. When your patients come for their first appointment, show them a personalized calendar with a treatment schedule that is tailored just for them. A customized calendar will convince your patients of your commitment and the importance of their next visit. Before they leave your office, your staff should give them a schedule that shows their next appointment date. You must train your employees to emphasize the next appointment when the patients are leaving your office.

2. Make the appointment process easy: Never play hard to get, especially for your patients. If your patients are having a difficult time scheduling an appointment, they will be upset before they even come to your office, or they may choose a competitor over you. Ideally, it should not take more than a couple of minutes for your patients to schedule their appointment on your calendar.

3. Send appointment reminders: Your patients may forget or miss their scheduled appointments. It is important to ensure that they are regularly informed of upcoming appointments to make sure they do not compromise their health. You can consider automating your appointment reminders via emails and texts. In some practices, automated appointment reminders have reduced ‘no-shows’ by more than half.

4. Follow up after the appointment: After the patient leaves your office, make sure to send an email or call them to ensure they are following all the instructions. It is a good idea to show them you are interested in their well-being and recovery. You can also consider keeping patients up-to-date on the progress of their treatment.

5. Gather patient information: Be sure to collect key data points, such as patient’s name, birthday, contact number and email, from every patient. There still are some practices that don’t collect and save this information. This data helps in locking necessary patient retention tools. Using patient contact numbers and email, you can easily automate appointment reminders, important updates, birthday wishes and more.

6. Keep the patients updated: You can send out newsletters carrying practice updates to your patients. In the newsletters, you can also include a call to action to refer someone or schedule an appointment. Newsletters can also be used to remind patients of all of your service lines and treatments. Be sure to include website and social media links.

7. Strong referral system: Your first step should be to look at the people in your practice, as they are your cheerleaders. You can get referrals from patients, staff members and other professionals. To build a strong referral system, consider setting up a team of professionals and loyal patients who will act as your brand ambassadors.

8. Focus on each patient: Be respectful and tolerant while listening to patients’ concerns and myths about their illness. Your patients will only feel connected to you if you are listening to their worries. During an appointment, ask about their lifestyle, habits, sleep patterns, etc. Sometimes patients do not realize what may be affecting their health and how to fix it. As you guide them through the rough spots, they become more confident and encouraged.

9. Send out satisfaction surveys: Sending satisfaction surveys to your patients will help you to see whether or not your treatment is having a positive impact on their well-being. Through these surveys, you patients may express their positive and negative experiences. Such surveys give you the opportunity to re-examine your strategy and change the aspects that aren’t yielding positive results. According to the Medical Group Management Association, nearly 80 percent of “better-performing” practices are using patient satisfaction surveys.

10. Simplify billing process: Simplifying the payment process is another way to increase patient retention. This is because patients will be more likely to come back to your practice if the billing process is transparent and straightforward. You do not have to overhaul the entire process. To begin with, you can ensure bills are written in clear and easy-to-understand language, minimize medical jargon, outline multiple payment options, have easy-to-locate contact information and provide maximum transparency in itemized statements.

11. Gift card promotions: You can increase patient retention by introducing gift card promotions. These initiatives will act as an incentive for your patients to make appointments at your practice. Each month, you should randomly give away a few gift cards to patients who booked appointments with you.

12. Build personal relationships: You should try to develop and maintain positive relationships with your patients. Simple gestures, such as ensuring that your staff is courteous, patients were offered water when they arrived at your practice, go a long way in building a lifelong bond. You should train your employees to walk each patient through their appointment with helpful instructions, preparing for a lab test or checking out.

13. Develop a marketing campaign: Satisfying and retaining patients is a crucial part of a successful marketing program. You can start by contributing to a blog, posting on social media and sending emails to your patients informing them about appointments, general health tips, surveys, industry news, testing results and much more. If the patient is not a regular one at your practice, your social media posts will play a critical role in maintaining a connection.

14. Get your systems up-to-date: It is advisable to invest in the right tools and to run your practice. With the increasing popularity of electronic medical record software, you should have a fully automated system for maintaining customer data, scheduling appointments, sending reminders, improving billing processes and other information management.

15. Promote patient engagement: Patients are important stakeholders in their healthcare and can provide valuable input for improving the quality of your service. Therefore, you must encourage them to make choices about their treatment plans and keep them informed of the latest healthcare options.

16. Be polite: Your staff should be trained to interact politely and professionally with patients. You must take some time to listen to how they answer patients’ questions and if they are courteous enough to help patients. The behavior of your staff will significantly impact your patient retention rate.

17. Educate patients: Educated and informed patients are usually the most satisfied ones. If your patients are happy with the quality of your service, they will return to complete their treatment. Many patients derive satisfaction from learning about their illness. They want you to tell them all you know about their illness and the further course of action.

18. Adopt flexible working hours: To attract more patients to your practice, you may have to make a few adjustments to your work schedule. If you listen to the reasons why your patients miss their follow-up appointments, you will know that the biggest reason is their inability to arrive at your office at the set time for their treatment.

19. Manage your reputation: Reputation marketing produces steady results, whether online or offline. The majority of patients who search online for local physicians are more likely to see a directory review rather than your practice website. Also, most patients who want to come to your office will trust online reviews about your practice more than a referral from a satisfied patient. Therefore, promoting your reputation will make the community see you as a trusted medical practitioner.

20. Be empathetic: This is a very effective way to improve patient retention. Try to put yourself in your patient’s shoes and think like one, from the first contact on the phone until the patient leaves your office after treatment. During this role-playing exercise, be as critical and as observant as possible. Your role playing should cover welcome greetings from your front desk, experiences in the waiting room, interactions in the exam room and billing department.

21. Motivate your staff: The secret behind a winning team is a mix of people working hard toward one common goal. Patient retention has a lot to do with your staff and their attitude. When hiring, pay attention to the best combination of polite, efficient, professional, pleasant and optimistic staff.

22. Provide unmatched customer care: You must strive to go above and beyond to enhance the patient experience. Always use patient’s first name in all communications, take steps to lessen boredom in the waiting room, and train your staff to be warm and friendly – these are small gestures that will boost your patient retention efforts.

23. Tactfully handle upset patients: When you notice an angry patient at your office, try to be calm, polite and empathetic. It might be a good idea to ask how their day is going and if there is you can do to make them feel better. A little sympathy can make someone’s day.

24. Handle negative reviews calmly: Even the best medical practices receive negative feedback. If your practice receives negative feedback, it is best to handle it promptly and professionally. Thank the reviewer for the feedback and address their concerns. Even if you cannot resolve the issue, make them feel heard and apologize for their unpleasant experience at your office.

25. Don’t lose heart: Even if a long-time patient leaves your practice, don’t despair. The first step is to contact the patient and find out the reasons they left. Try to address and resolve their concerns, if possible. However, if the issues are not fixable, thank them for the input, make the suggested changes, and let them know. By maintaining a constant touch, they may eventually come back to you.

Comfort leads to satisfaction, and patient satisfaction leads to retention. Learn how Practice Builders can help your practice improve patient satisfaction and retention. We have the knowledge and expertise you need to take patient retention to the next level. Contact us to learn more about our patient retention strategies.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

4 ways to get your medical staff into PR mode

We all have a lot of responsibilities at work.

Between long hours, busy schedules and important patient matters, it can be tough to get your medical staff involved in marketing. Budget cuts also mean health care marketing departments have to stay creative with their outreach efforts, all while keeping an eye on costs.

Here are a few quick ways to get medical colleagues involved in your PR program. They might even enjoy it:

1. Develop a speakers bureau. Handpick a small group of well-spoken, amicable doctors who can speak to members of the media. The participants will feel special for being chosen, which will enhance their commitment to your efforts.

Ask the participating doctors which hot topics they can address, then pitch those stories to journalists. Be sure to create a formal—yet brief—program overview so your medical staffers know what you are looking for and what their role will be when representing the organization in media interviews. 

2. Hold media training classes. Some medical staffers might be intimidated by the thought of talking to a reporter. To ensure that they feel confident in their abilities to interact with journalists, hold a brief prep program, including HIPAA guidelines.

Your session could include the dos and don’ts of media interviews and how to respond in concise, punchy language that’s easy for laypeople to understand. Assuaging the group’s fears will make them more comfortable with PR, and it might inspire them to become involved in your initiatives.

3. Encourage content sharing. When communicators post content to your hospital’s social media properties, do you ask your staff to share it? Employees provided a powerful engine for marketing via social media.

Consider sending internal emails when major press announcements are made. Invite co-workers to share the news with their own networks, too.

4. Capitalize on your email signatures. Electronic messages are an effective way to share links and news with current patients and business connections.

Ask your staff to add a link to your company’s newsroom in their signature line so the people they email can see the great coverage your hospital is earning. It’s subtle, and it works.

Amanda Guagliardo is an account coordinator at the boutique branding and PR firm, Vitamin. The original version of this post was published on the company’s blog, Living Organism.

This article was first published in April 2015

HealthCareCommunication.com

Breathe life into your medical practice website

A lot of doctors only see their website as a digital business card to explain what they specialize in and where they’re located.

 

Done right, your website funnels patients into your office and establishes you as a thought leader.

 

Here are nine elements to develop on your website to attract new patients and grow your business:

 

1. Content

Your website has the potential to be your best salesperson and a marketing machine. It should be built strategically, with clear goals in mind that focus on:

  • Increasing patient volume
  • Establishing you as a medical authority
  • Educating your patients
  • Building trust with your prospects
  • Providing better quality of care

 

2. Unique value proposition (UVP)

One of the most important things your website should communicate is your UVP. The way you arrive at your UVP is by establishing your niche—knowing which treatments you excel at and which patients you help better than any other doctor. Once you’ve identified these core strengths, you can hone your website’s messaging to reflect this unique positioning.

 

Here’s an example from the Southern California Reproductive Center, a clinic that specializes in in-vitro fertilization.

Thought leadership on a medical website

 

3. Focus on the user

People land on your site looking for solutions or to learn more about why you’re a better option than your competitors. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to find and consume the information they need.

 

Common impediments to avoid include:

  • Duplicate content. Don’t recycle the same content across all of your sites without adding any unique value other than swapping out the logo and contact information.
  • Generic content. In an industry that revolves around personal treatment, your content needs to educate, engage and build trust among your prospects.
  • Information overload. Too many options overwhelm your visitors and make your calls to action impossible to find. Clarity and simplicity are key. Keep it simple and the message will be that much more helpful.
  • Bad writing. Your website content needs to be written for the user. Communicate benefits. Don’t talk down to your readers or go over their heads with technical or medical jargon. Find a way to communicate urgency when necessary without fear-mongering.

 

4. Offer more than a “contact us” or a “consultation request” button

Many of your website visitors are not ready to make a decision. They are researching options and evaluating you as a possible candidate to help them.

 

Turn more of those anonymous visits into leads by giving visitors something of value in exchange for their contact info:

 

  • Guides explaining complex procedures for new patients
  • E-books detailing treatment options and protocols
  • HIPAA-compliant case studies or patient success stories
  • Q&A-style webinars to answer common questions

 

This free e-book from HeartValveSurgery.com is an effective way of converting patients who may need some more information before committing to a surgical procedure.

 

medical ebook landing page

 

5. Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is about more than using the right keywords. There are “on-page” and “off-page” components that you have to get right:

 

On-page

  • Make sure all content is indexable, including images, videos and plugins
  • Make sure your link structure is crawlable
  • Use friendly URL structures
  • Optimize pages, title tags and meta-descriptions
  • Avoid duplicate content

 

Off-page

  • Build quality links
  • Share and promote your content
  • Optimize for local and mobile search (see below)

 

6. Optimizing for mobile

Approximately 58 percent of mobile users search for local businesses on their smartphone daily; 89 percent search weekly, and 70 percent of mobile searches result in action being taken within an hour.

 

Mobile optimization factors that promote a positive user experience include:

  • Larger, legible fonts
  • Fast load speed
  • Bullet lists and pared-down text
  • Simpler navigation and fewer internal links
  • Fewer images

 

Make sure you have a responsive website that is easy to read, navigate and interact with, like this one from the Migraine Relief Center:

 

migraine relief center mobile responsive website

 

7. Optimizing for local search

Like mobile, local search has a unique set of ranking factors that you should be aware of and optimize for. Local search involves any keyword that is geographically qualified such as, infertility treatment in Santa Barbara.

 

Ranking well for local searches hinges on the following:

  • Optimizing the location page(s) on your website (especially important for practices with multiple locations)
  • Links back to your site from other trusted local websites
  • The accuracy, volume and consistency of your practice’s business listings across select directories on the web

 

Read a more in-depth study on local ranking factors here.

 

8. Patient testimonials

In-depth “patient success stories” can have a huge impact on converting on-the-fence prospects into patients.

 

The La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Center features several patient testimonials on their website. Each patient offers insights into:

  • Why they chose to get surgery

  • How they felt before and after their procedures

  • Other aspects of their experience

 

patient testimonials medical website

 

9. Not blogging strategically

Strategic blogging is centered around an in-depth understanding of your ideal patients and what they’re searching for online.

 

Your blog should:

  • Develop “ideal patient” profiles
  • Determine the challenges they have and the questions they’re asking
  • Provide information regarding keywords used to search for answers

 

The Migraine Relief Center struck gold with their post on daith piercings for migraine relief that saw over 115,000 views from organic searches alone.

 

daith piercing migraine relief medical website

Remember, your website is your best salesperson and a marketing machine. Make sure it’s working to help build your practice and drive patients to you.

 

Shareef Defrawi is president and founder of Bonafide. The original version of this article appeared on his blog.

HealthCareCommunication.com

Top 25 Ways to Attract More Patients to Your Medical Practice

Top 25 Ways to Attract More Patients to Your Medical Practice

Marketing is essential to the success of any business, and medical practices are no exception. For a medical practice to grow, a doctor should see 30 to 50 new patients every month. Moreover, to attract new patients, a practice must offer competitive services at reasonable pricing. Retaining existing patients also demands hard work and dedication.

While it is important to maintain a relationship with your existing patients, it is equally important to grow your practice and add new patients. Of course, there are the usual ways to achieve this, including marketing techniques and referral programs, but there is much more you can do. Here are some proven ways to help you grow your practice and add new patients:

1. Know your target audience: Before you reach out to potential patients, you need to understand your current patients. Take a look at your office records and observe the average age, gender, profession and location of your existing patients. This data will help you find the best marketing techniques to promote your practice and attract new patients.

2. Train your team: Your team will get to interact with your patients before they meet you. So train your staff to present a great first impression and address patients’ questions regarding your practice. Your staff should not only know about the services you provide but also offer specific details such as pricing, equipment used during procedures, what to expect during a consult, etc.

3. Follow up with patients: Most of the practices spend about 90 percent of their resources to attract new patients. However, retaining existing patients is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to grow your practice. Also, nurturing relationships with existing patients will increase referrals.

4. Build a mobile-responsive website: Having a modern and easy-to-use website is critical for the growth of your practice and for attracting new patients. Make sure your website is responsive and works equally 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 clinic for an appointment. Creating a relevant and informational website is probably the most important marketing tool at your disposal.

5. Start a blog: Blogging adds fresh content to your site and also helps with SEO. Consistently posting relevant and original content on your blog shows that you know your practice and are happy to keep your patients informed. You may provide wellness tips, announce local events and share updates about your practice. You can promote the blog using Twitter and use it to engage with existing and potential patients.

6. Host contests: Contents can be an excellent way to get your target audience to know about your practice. Offering prizes and giveaways in exchange for spreading the word about your practice may bring you plenty of leads.

7. Encourage online reviews: Reviews are one of the most efficient ways for attracting new patients and growing your practice. Encourage your patients to share their feedback in an online review. You can do this by sending a follow-up email thanking your patients for their visit and encouraging them to review you online. You can offer discounts or free services to motivate patients for posting online reviews for your practice. With the patient’s permission, you can also make their reviews public by sharing them on your practice website. It will not only help in maintaining patient relationships but will also get your name out there.

8. Connect with the community: Connecting with your community will give you an opportunity to educate people and expand the list of potential patients. You can host a seminar for kids on how to care for their health and ensure hygiene. Parents will not only appreciate this but will also consult you when they need a doctor.

9. Stay active on social media: When your current patients “like” or “share” your content on social media, their entire social circle sees it. That can direct user traffic to your page and may help generate leads. The trick is to share informational content that is relevant to your target users so that more and more people feel motivated to share your content.

10. Monitor your online presence: If your practice has some negative reviews, look for the most common reasons for the complaints. If the review sites allow, make sure you respond to both positive and negative feedback to show that you care. The more positive feedback you can collect, the more calls you’ll get from potential patients.

11. Embrace technological advances: Young patients are keen on having a technologically connected healthcare experience, and you can easily achieve it through cost-effective technical updates. For instance, instead of calling your clinic, patients should be able to download their lab results from your portal. If patients are satisfied with the convenience offered by your clinic, they’ll be more likely to refer other people to your practice.

12. Be responsive: Always staff yourself adequately if you notice an increase in the number of patients. Recruit extra staff to expand your existing services and, if possible, add new services to meet the needs of new patients. You can promote the new services strategically to the target audience. By meeting local demands in a strategic and timely manner, you can increase the number of patients and grow your practice.

13. Deliver quality service: There is no way your patients will refer your practice to others if they aren’t satisfied with your attitude and services. You have to show real interest in your patients. Your manners and the look and feel of your clinic are extremely important. You must be able to communicate well with your patients and make your presence positive and uplifting.

14. Be flexible: Your office hours and appointment schedule must suit that of your patients. If your patients need early morning appointments, lunchtime or evening hours won’t work for them. You have to make yourself available at their convenience.

15. Ask for references: Patients usually don’t refer unless you ask. The simplest way to ask for references is to inform your existing patients that you have room for new patients or that you are adding new services. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations and don’t forget to thank them for referrals.

16. Become a referrer: Fostering relationships with other doctors is a two-way street. Other doctors will be interested in referring patients to you if you’ve been referring patients their way. It is always best for the patient to refer them to the best-in-class doctors.

17. Send email reminders: Emails are one of the best ways to remind patients to come by for scheduled checkups. You can schedule follow-up emails after each appointment to ensure your patients never miss their checkups. You can also stay in touch with your regular patients throughout the year with hygiene tips, health news and updates about your practice.

18. Use email marketing: Email marketing is not an efficient method of staying in touch with your existing patients. But you can use emails for sending reminders, promotional offers and general updates about your practice to your existing patients.

19. Invest in local SEO: Make sure you include local SEO strategies in your marketing mix so that your practice shows up in local search results. This is because when potential patients are searching for doctors and medical services online, you want your practice to come up with the first few on top. Having your practice website appearing in the top five slots of a search engine is essential for attracting new patients.

20. Get listed in local online directories: More than 70 percent of people searching for medical professionals make their selection based on local listings in online directories such as Google+, Yelp, White Pages, etc. Listing your practice in an online local directory is a great way to steer targeted traffic to your website.

21. Generate media exposure: The right amount of media exposure can attract a large volume of new patients and increase the branding of your practice. Generating media exposure requires time, effort and a thorough understanding of how each media works. When done properly, media exposure can bring tremendous results for your practice.

22. Post real pictures of your staff: Personalize your practice website and make it an extension of your clinic. Instead of using stock and generic photos on your practice website and social media profiles, post real-life pictures of your team and office. Real-life images will display the comfort of your clinic and add some personality to your practice website.

23. Re-engage past patients: Set up a system for monitoring patient appointments and sending reminders to those who have been missing their appointments for a particular period. Even if a patient seems reluctant to return to your practice, you might convince them to come back with a few small gestures.

24. Take all cases seriously: Always answer patient calls, especially emergency calls, promptly. If patients are suffering and you are not available for them, they will never come to see you again. If you are available for patients in times of an emergency and go above and beyond for them, they will not waste a minute in spreading the good word about your practice.

25. Brochures and business cards: Brochures kept in your office or mailed to potential and existing patients can be an effective marketing tool. Information available in catalogs can be an educational tool that creates awareness about your practice. Moreover, displaying business cards in your reception area will keep your name intact, and patients will have access to your contact information for future reference.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Food and Drug Administration final guidance protects medical devices from hacks

Device makers should develop “a structured and comprehensive program to manage cybersecurity risks” even after their products are sold. The FDA has been criticized for making suggestions instead of strongly regulating medical devices.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News

Fresh eyes will judge tool woes at Detroit Medical Center

State regulators and the Detroit Medical Center have agreed to bring in a consultant to ensure that surgical instruments are clean and sterile.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News