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Essential Politics: California’s climate goals rely on more housing on less land, lawmakers propose lowering the voting age to 17
Essential Politics: California’s climate goals rely on more housing on less land, lawmakers propose lowering the voting age to 17 March 8, 2017, 1:04 p.m. This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Here’s what we’re watching right now: California’s voting…
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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.
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.
Providers could see pay raises or patient volumes increase as a result of states boosting efforts to track whether fee-for-service Medicaid patients have adequate access to care.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News
When it comes to blood types, can your patients distinguish between universal donors and universal recipients?
For that matter, can you?
That simple bit of knowledge can help boost blood donations during winter months, when need runs high and contributions tend to wane.
This chart on the American Red Cross website allows you to visualize the impact each blood group plays in the transfusion process:
It’s not the only way health care communicators are eliciting donations, though.
The Red River Valley Blood Center offers a list of 50 Fascinating Blood Facts on their website, including these pertaining to patients who benefit from blood donations:
The following video from University of Maryland Medical Center makes its point in just over a minute:
Another video, using upbeat music to set a positive tone, humanizes the experiences of first-time donors and introduces the viewer to a woman with an autoimmune disease who needs monthly transfusions:
Marketers can also opt to use social media; these Facebook posts for Mississippi Blood Services are helping the organization sound the alarm to their 12,000 followers. A severe inventory shortage has prompted daily blood drives throughout the state:
This infographic from the American Red Cross delivers facts and figures about Blood Donor Month, held each January since 1970.
The Independent reports that a simple but effective Swedish campaign thanks donors by text message and lets them know when their blood has been used. Donors quickly responded on social media and shared their experiences.
Donors in Sweden also have access to website that shows how much blood is contained in the current inventory in the hopes of prompting more donations before a crisis can develop.
How is your hospital or medical facility soliciting donations?
Through these efforts, some donors have agreed to be contacted through email and social media, or by text message, to remind them to donate again.
The very first encounter many of your patients will have with your practice is their Internet search for you, making your website your first opportunity to attract and convert patients and boost patient satisfaction. The user experience you provide should be one that loads quickly, states information clearly and navigates effortlessly. Many desktop sites don’t offer this when viewed on a mobile device. According to a KCPB Internet Trends 2015 report, people spent more of their Internet time on their phones vs. other computing devices. Bottom line: If your website isn’t responsive, you’re already missing the mark to attract patients and achieve high scores on those patient satisfaction surveys!
The concept of responsive web design is simple: One single website designed so that it adapts on-the-fly to fit various viewing devices (screen sizes, orientations, etc.). Eliminating the need to maintain multiple websites, designing a responsive website is crucial for the success of your practice.
Here are nine tips to make your website design more responsive:
1. Avoid flash. Keep videos and large images to a minimum, as they increase the loading time for your pages.
2.Make sure your viewport accommodates various sizes. A viewport is a meta tag at the header of a page that tells browsers how to display the site’s content. If you do not have a viewport meta tag, mobile browsers will default to desktop dimensions, which is cumbersome on mobile devices. You also shouldn’t specify dimensions in the viewport information, but leave it as width=device-width to accommodate for different screen sizes. Google has a step-by-step tutorial here.
3. Create “tap-able” links and buttons. Fingers on touch screens need a larger target than someone working with a mouse at a desktop would. Make sure the buttons and links are spaced far enough apart that mobile users don’t accidentally hit something else.
4. Enlarge fonts and image resolution. For fonts, 16 pixels is the recommended minimum. For images, use high-resolution photos that can withstand the scrutiny of high definition screens and the ability to zoom in.
5. Include a working telephone button on your website so that users can tap it and call your office right away.
6. Keep the most important information at the top of the page. Remember that mobile users have to scroll. Don’t force users to scroll through a lot of content in order to find out how to contact you or make an appointment. Put that information – how to make appointments, find your office, etc. – toward the top of the page.
7. Listen to Google. Google has a list of factors it considers part of mobile-friendliness. Get familiar with them so you understand how your site’s usability stacks up and what the problem areas may be. You can peruse the “Mobile Usability” section of their Search Console guide here. Google also provides a free Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
8. Use YouTube for videos. To make sure your videos display properly on devices of all sizes, upload your healthcare site’s videos using YouTube. YouTube’s code is responsive already, meaning it will show up in the right proportions based on a device’s screen size.
9. Test your site on multiple mobile devices to spot any trouble spots. Try each button, video and link, and fill out any forms on your site on each device.
A responsive website is a crucial part of your healthcare marketing plan. Practice Builders will give you a free marketing consult to evaluate your website and create a plan of action to make it more responsive. Sign up for a free consultation with us today; simply call us at 855.898.2710 or email us at info@PracticeBuilders.com.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” launched spectacularly at the box office Friday, bringing in an estimated $ 71.1 million in more than 4,100 theaters.
The film is expected to finish the weekend in the range of $ 140 million to $ 150 million, making it the second-best all-time December opening, behind…
If you want to stay ahead of the game, you’ve got to know your competition. We’ll show you how to do your own market research so you can get the scoop on competing healthcare practices. When you know their strengths and weaknesses (and understand your own) you’ll be better-positioned to strategize your own marketing efforts and increase your patient load.
Here are six stealthy ways you can dig deep to understand competing healthcare practices:
1. Find them on the Internet. You likely already know at least one competitor in your local region, but first you need to seek out who you’re vying with for patients. In this case, your friends are Google and Google Tools. Do a search to figure out who your local competitors are, and then go one step further and employ the help of Google Trends and Google Alerts. You’ll feel like a secret agent as you discover all you ever wanted to know about your competition!
2. Peruse their website. You can learn a lot about a medical practice by their website! A company’s mission and values will clarify what their primary goals are, staff bios will introduce you to the caliber of their employees, patient testimonials will reveal what sets them apart, and a blog will display some of the practice’s personality.
3. Follow their social media. Following a competing practice on Facebook or Twitter is a great way to discover what they’re doing in the community, how they engage their patients and even what their patients think of them. Speaking of reviews, check out Yelp and see what lurks there. Don’t forget to search on your own practice, too. Many healthcare practice’s strengths and weaknesses come out via social networking channels.
4. Call them, incognito. You don’t want to make a call from your office phone, because caller IDs are a clear giveaway of who’s on the other line. But call a competing practice and put in a few inquiries to find out a little more information about them. You’ll also see how their customer service stacks up.
5. Sign up for their newsletter. Again, incognito. You might feel like a snoop using your work email address, so use a personal account and sign up for your competitor’s monthly newsletter. Similar to social media and a blog, a newsletter will reveal how a practice educates their patients plus give you a glimpse into a practice’s upcoming events and past accomplishments as well as how they interact with their patients.
6. Listen to your own patients. Some patients may willingly volunteer information to you about why they were dissatisfied elsewhere. It’s also a question you can ask, especially new patients who may have recently left a practice. If you’re uncomfortable digging in the dirt, simply ask what brought them to you. You may not find out a specific practice pain point, but you’ll still come out ahead in understanding how your own marketing efforts are paying off.
But you don’t have to research your competition alone, because that’s our specialty. Let Practice Builders help you do the right market research and create a marketing plan that suits your needs and goals. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.679.1262 to sign up for a free marketing consult with us, and we’ll get started!
Digital marketing revenues are expected to outpace traditional ads by 2018, according to new research from BIA/Kelsey.
The group’s US Local Advertising Forecast 2017 reports that mobile advertising for local markets in particular will jump from $ 44.2 billion in 2016 to $ 50.2 billion in 2017.
Traditional advertising in local markets is expected to drop from $ 101.1 billion in 2016 to $ 98.6 billion next year.
“A large part of that is because of a decline in revenue going to print media, including newspapers, magazines and direct mail,” Mark Fratrik, senior VP-chief economist at BIA/Kelsey, told Advertising Age.
RELATED: Tell better brand stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and your blog.
In a statement, Fratrik attributed the boost to “an improving US economy, increased spending by national brands in local media channels, extraordinary growth in mobile and social advertising, and the continued expansion and selection of online/digital advertising platforms.”
Another report that revealed data around Facebook spending supports the BIA/Kelsey study.
Marketing tech groups Kenshoo and Merkle released data recently that suggests that investment in Facebook marketing continues to rapidly grow.
Facebook ad spending increased 14 percent in the third quarter year-over-year, according to Kenshoo. The company attributes that to dynamic product ads, which accounted for 42 percent of all ad clicks. The amount of money spent on video ads increased 155 percent year over year, and the amount spent on mobile marketing jumped 61 percent in that time frame.
Merkle’s third quarter report revealed an overall spending increase of 63 percent year over year.
Both reports found falling costs per click and rising cost per thousand impressions.
An environmental group is accusing three major television manufacturers of misleading consumers and regulators about how much energy their high-definition screens devour and that sets from two of the companies are designed to draw less power during government testing than in ordinary use.