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Tag Archives: Patients

6 Ways to Make Your Patients Feel Special

6 Ways to Make Your Patients Feel Special

How your patients experience your practice is a foundational aspect of your healthcare marketing strategy. A snappy website may help get patients through your doors, but whether or not you retain them and they are willing to recommend your practice depends on what happens once they step through those doors. Use these six strategies to improve your patients’ experience with your practice… so they refer their friends and keep coming back!

Remember Individual Details. Patients know you see a lot of people, so if you can remember a couple of details specific to individual patients and ask about them, your patients will be impressed by your thoughtfulness. They’ll feel like they are not just a name on a file to you, but rather a valued part of your practice. Building that sense of connection is important for building a trusting relationship with your patient, who will in turn be much more likely to recommend you to others.

Surveys. Conduct regular surveys of your patients’ satisfaction with your practice. You can send them out online, have patients fill out a form in person or build it into an app. This will show that you care about their experience and feedback and will help you pinpoint areas for improvement.

App. Consider building an app for your practice. If you are a hospital, include a map that directs patients and visitors to the appropriate place to park and help navigate them through your halls. You can also build in interactive, health-related surveys and articles they can engage with in the waiting room. An app offers a great platform to help patients get in touch with your practice, refill prescriptions and be reminded of their appointments.

Show Your Appreciation. Host a patient appreciation event. This can be small and fairly inexpensive, like a social at a park, or more elaborate as your budget allows. If you have a core group of long-time patients, show them you appreciate their loyalty by renting out a restaurant to say thanks.

Be Attentive. When patients arrive, make sure your front desk staff is trained to welcome them and attend to what they need right away. If this isn’t always possible, make sure you and your staff thank them for their patience. Acknowledge their experience before they have to bring it to your attention. This will help patients recognize you are considering them and doing the best you can.

Make It Inviting. Patients can be nervous, especially when they are new and don’t know what to expect. Their first impression will come from the waiting area, so make sure you keep it clean and inviting. Consider incorporating small decorative elements that will help the space feel more warm and personal, like table lamps instead of overhead fluorescents.

When your patients feel valued and special, they’re much more likely to come back, give you positive reviews and recommend your practice to others.

If you’d like to improve your patients’ experience as part of your healthcare marketing plan, we’d love to help. Contact info@practicebuilders.com.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

How to Keep Patients Coming Back

How to Keep Patients Coming Back

Updating your online healthcare marketing plan to gain new followers is a great way to increase your online profile and find a new audience. But it’s always important to remember while you’re developing your online community that it’s just as important to improved your in-office practices to retain the patients you do have.

Building the reputation of your medical or dental office shouldn’t just be focused on online strategies. Here are some ways you can ensure your patients keep coming back:

Connect On Social Media

Social media isn’t just for gaining anonymous followers to raise your profile – it’s also a convenient and innovative way to get to know your patients better and connect with them. You can create posts or special offers that cater to your patients’ interests and needs or you can include certain news items that address concerns that your patients have expressed.

Build Your Online Reputation

Building an online reputation is a two-way street between you and your patients since you need to ask or encourage your patients to rate their experience with your practice online. By offering impeccable service and incentives to review your practice online, you can help remind your patients of the good service they received and also let your patients know you value their opinion, so they keep coming back.

In Office Training

You’re only as good as your team. That’s why it’s also important to offer training sessions to help your staff better their skills. Telephone and communication skills are imperative to create a welcoming atmosphere that patients want to come back to.

At Practice Builders, we offer staff training and online marketing strategies to help you gain new patients and retain the ones you already have. Contact our experienced healthcare marketing consultants at info@practicebuilders.com for more information.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

How to Find Out What Your Patients Want Online

How-to-Find-Out-What-Your-Patients-Want-OnlineBIG

Did you know that 77% of online health seekers began their last session on a search engine? When you’re marketing your healthcare practice online, it’s important to anticipate what your patients are looking for – that way, they find you and your practice online! As with any business, having an idea of what your customer needs and wants makes it easier to create an effective online healthcare marketing plan that will get you the results you want. But is it possible to really know what your patients want from their healthcare provider online? Here are a few tips to help you answer that question:

Stick to Your Expertise and Services

Whether you run a medical, dental, physical therapy or veterinary practice, no one knows what you can offer better than you. Start by promoting your own knowledge and services to help attract the patients you want online. If you find that patients want more than what you offer, you can consider expanding your services and expertise then.

Pay Attention to Online Reviews, Questions and Comments

If you’re on an online review site like Yelp or have a business page on Facebook, be sure to pay attention to the comments and reviews you receive. Did anyone leave a follow-up question on an article you posted? Has anyone asked if you provide a certain service that isn’t explicitly promoted on your site?

Reviews, both positive and negative, can also provide insight into what it is your patients are looking for. Paying attention to them gives you the opportunity to tailor your content to what your patients want and add SEO optimized content to help more patients find you online.

Poll Your Audience

The quickest way to find out what your patients want from you online is to ask them. Poll your patients on what specific content they’d like to see more of or see if there’s a specific medical topic that you haven’t covered that they’d like to learn more about.

Know Your Competition

Another way to find out what your patients want online is to see what your local competition is offering. Check out the websites and social media pages of other healthcare practices in your community – what do they offer that you don’t? And is it something that patients in your area are looking for? Most importantly, is it something that you can offer them? If so, then you know how you should tailor your content going forward to attract those patients.

Create a Brand

Developing a brand identity and establishing who you are as a medical practice will, in a way, give your patients what they want. Having a clear message about your practice will help you establish who you are to your patients and give them a clear perspective of who you are, as well. When we’re choosing a business to go to, we do so because they represent something that we’re looking for. Having your own clear message will help you attract the patients that you want online.

At Practice Builders, part of our many services is to help our clients establish a brand identity. If you’d like to learn more, contact one of our healthcare marketing consultants at 800.679.1262.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Keeping Up With Today’s Hyper-Connected Patients

Keeping-Up-With-Todays-Hyper-Connected-PatientsBIG

Teaser: Your average patient in 2016 is likely to be an active social media user with more than 300 social media connections. According to Pew Research, nine out of ten American adults now use the Internet regularly. And that figure is as high as 99% among higher-earning households, millennials and college-educated Americans of all ages. And that’s not all…

Patient behaviors have evolved

The Internet has led to the evolution of your typical healthcare patient. Instead of looking for healthcare practices by scanning a printed Yellow Pages directory or asking a relative, today’s prospective new patient typically logs on to the Internet and uses a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo! to find your website, social media pages or online reviews.

Today’s patients check these online resources before they decide to contact a practice even if they have been referred to a specific doctor or healthcare practice by another patient or doctor. Fewer and fewer patients respond to heavily branded external marketing messages in print ads, TV commercials or other traditional media.

Patients trust peers, not “advertising”

Today’s patient does not trust traditional advertising. Today’s patient trusts those in his or her own social network and online reviews from other patients. The decision-making process is far more research-driven than that of earlier patients. And it’s not just younger patient prospects making healthcare decisions this way. The fastest-growing population segment on Facebook today is adults aged 50+. Regardless of age, patients visit practice websites, check branded social media pages and watch YouTube videos. By the time the patient contacts your office, he or she is already prequalified based on his or her own research.

Handling phone calls from prospective patients

This is where the rubber meets the road in new-patient acquisition; where your staff can either make or break the process – and help you gain or lose a new patient – by how they handle each phone call. Ask yourself whether your staff is reinforcing your brand and professional image. Does your staff encourage the same positive feelings that led the prospect to contact you? Does your practice provide helpful educational content that enhances your credibility and promotes your acceptance among patient prospects?

Well-informed patients often make better patients

The typical patient’s decision-making process may seem a bit more complicated than flipping through a Yellow Pages directory, but they are really quite simple. The Internet offers split-second access to a wealth of health information. Today’s typical patient is likely to have read several medical research articles and visited several websites before contacting a doctor, dentist or other type of healthcare practice. This often results in a more informed, more proactive patient whom most doctors or dentists will enjoy treating.

If you would like to know more about reaching, attracting and engaging today’s patients more effectively through social media, call Practice Builders at 800.679.1200 or email info@practicebuilders.com.

If you wish to comment on this electronic newsletter’s content or subject matter, simply email the editor: hedgar@practicebuilders.com.

Practice Builders

Doctors and patients critical of CDC’s new opioid guidelines

Some 40 Americans are dying every day from prescription drug abuse.

In an effort to address the epidemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued 12 recommendations for primary care physicians to abide by voluntarily. The CDC’s parameters are a follow-up to President Barack Obama’s instructions from his State of the Union address in January when he noted the far-reaching effects of opioid abuse.

According to the CDC website, increased prescribing and sales have quadrupled opioid use since 1999 and “helped create and fuel this epidemic.”

The guideline provides recommendations on the use of opioids in treating chronic pain (that is, pain lasting longer than three months or past the time of normal tissue healing). Chronic pain is a public health concern in the United States, and patients with chronic pain deserve safe and effective pain management. This new guideline is for primary care providers—who account for prescribing nearly half of all opioid prescriptions—treating adult patients for chronic pain in outpatient settings. It is not intended for guiding treatment of patients in active cancer treatment, palliative care, or end-of-life care.

CDC_prescription_drug_graphic

ABCNews.com reported that the guidelines could be widely adopted by hospitals, insurers and state and federal health systems.

Government officials have already tried multiple approaches to tackling painkiller abuse. The Food and Drug Administration restricted some widely-prescribed painkillers to limit refills. States like Florida and New York have cracked down on “pill mills” using databases to monitor what doctors are prescribing. And this week, Massachusetts signed into law a seven-day limit on first-time prescriptions for opioids — the first of its kind in the nation.

CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said: “Changing medical practice isn’t quick and it isn’t easy, but we think the pendulum on pain management swung way too far toward the ready use of opioids.”

The recommendations—initially released earlier this year—have come under fire from many physicians on social media. For example, Dr. Stefan Kertesz, a primary care doctor trained in internal medicine and addictions, wrote on HuffingtonPost.com in January:

They [the CDC] urge aggressive use of urine drug testing to identify patients who take opioid medication differently from intended or use illicit drugs. In 56 pages, they say a lot more. My practice lines up closely with what this guideline recommends. And despite that, I feel the guideline is not yet ready, not given the regulatory power it will have.

Dr. Joseph Garbely, medical director at Caron Treatment Centers, a behavioral health and addiction treatment facility, wrote a few days ago that the CDC parameters put doctors in a “tenuous position.” If physicians refuse to prescribe an opiate, their patients might very well hop to another office until they get what they want and their continuity of care is broken, he said. “That’s why it’s critically important that the medical community play a significant role in creating meaningful change. Our goal as physicians must be eliminating irresponsible prescribing of opiates while allowing our patients’ pain to be appropriately treated. Primary care doctors are on the front lines of this epidemic but specialists have a role, too.”

Garbely also said medical schools and residency programs should mandate education about the recommendations as part of physicians’ maintenance of certification. 

[Free download: The Mayo Clinic, Piedmont Healthcare and Nebraska Medicine share best practices in health care internal communications.]

From the patient’s view

Providers aren’t the only ones to voice concern about the guidelines. People living with chronic pain offered insights about how the CDC parameters may affect them. Here’s a sampling from MSN.com:

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CDC_prescription_comment_USAToday

In 2013, an estimated 1.9 million people abused or were dependent on prescription opiates, drugs in the same class as morphine.

Communicators, what are providers doing to address the opioid epidemic in their offices? Are you using social or traditional media to express opinions and educate the public?

(Image via)

HealthCareCommunication.com

Do your patients know the intricacies of the heart and lungs?

The heart and lungs can be the source of breathing problems. Do your patients understand the close connection of these vital organs?

An infographic from National Jewish Health says the heart and lungs work together to ensure the body has enough oxygen-rich blood to function properly. 

[Learn the state of internal communication in health care with this free download.]

Patients who suffer from common problems linked to the heart-lung connection may experience:

  • Sleep apnea

  • Shortness of breath

  • Heart attacks

  • Emphysema

  • Bronchitis

  • Exercise intolerance

  • Fatigue

Communicators, can you improve your outreach about this topic? This infographic features several interesting heart/lung facts that may boost your efforts.

(View a larger image)

Infographic-Heart-and-Breathing-Connection

(Image via)

HealthCareCommunication.com

3 Surefire Ways to Turn Your Web Visitors into New Patients

Getting patients to visit your healthcare website is one challenge. Turning them into new patients in your practice is quite another. You can have the best-looking website and great SEO to attract patients, but without the right content, written the right way with the right elements, your patient conversion rate will suffer. Here are some effective ways to convert web visitors into new patients…

CONTENT:

You may already have a great-looking, patient-friendly, easy-to-navigate, SEO-optimized website. But your patient conversion rate is disappointing at best. Instead of pulling your hair out and cursing Google or your web designer, take a closer look at the one element of your healthcare website that may be failing you miserably.

A Critically Important Call You May Have Missed

Does your healthcare website include a strong call to action? Do you encourage patients to schedule appointments or learn about the newest, most effective treatments for their condition? Is your call to action based on current best practices to help you achieve greater patient engagement?

The truth is, once you have a robust medical or dental website with content that engages patients, you still need a surefire way to facilitate face-to-face connection by encouraging them to set that first appointment – or whatever else you want them to do. That’s where the venerable yet often overlooked call to action comes into play.

First, Instruct Patients to Click or Call

Most people are predisposed to follow instructions. Think about the actions you want your web visitors to take and write your instructions toward those actions. Use short, punchy, action-based phrases such as “request an appointment” or “schedule your complimentary consultation” or “get directions to us.”

According to recent surveys that analyze web traffic versus your website’s main conversion points, adding a simple button link that says, “Request an Appointment” can generate an over 110% increase in conversions. Make sure that the button appears high (“above the fold” so visitors don’t have to scroll to find it) on every page of your doctor or dentist website, and make sure it stands out from the rest of your content by using a bolder color, shape and font.

Your “Contact Us” page is another type of call to action, which can generate a 130% increase in conversions. Again, it’s the simple, straightforward commands that make these instructions so effective.

Second, Write as the Active First Person

Another recent study revealed a 90% improvement in conversions when you write your calls to action in the active first-person voice. Use words such as “I”, “my” and “me.” In other words, patients are more likely to click on “schedule my free consultation” than “schedule your free consultation.” The first-person voice allows the patient to internalize the command as if he or she is giving the instruction.

Third, Create a Sense of Urgency

There’s no time quite like the present. If you tell a potential new patient to take action now, you can improve your conversions dramatically. Alternating use of the words “now” and “today” or “immediately” in your calls to action will increase the likelihood that visitors perform the action without hesitation.

Though these simple strategies are easy to implement, you would be surprised how many doctors’ and dentists’ websites do not use them to their advantage. You would be even more surprised at how often dental website marketing and medical website marketing practitioners overlook these powerful tactics for converting visitors into new patients.

Get expert help with your website calls to action and improve patient conversions. Contact Practice Builders by emailing us at info@PracticeBuilders.com, calling 800.679.1200 or visiting www.PracticeBuilders.com. Request your complimentary Web Evaluation by writing to info@PracticeBuilders.com.

If you wish to comment on this electronic newsletter’s content or subject matter, please email the editor at: hedgar@practicebuilders.com.

Practice Builders

Top 3 Reasons You Are Losing Patients

Doctors and dentists who wish to increase patient demand or stay in high demand in 2016 must use an armamentarium of healthcare practice marketing strategies to engage and attract healthcare consumers where they live. And where they live is on their smartphones, tablets, laptops and the Internet. That’s where the collective world healthcare knowledge resides at their fingertips.

Today’s healthcare consumer has access to far more information than ever before. Choosing the right doctor no longer means relying on a friend or family member’s recommendation. Patients in 2016 have lightning-fast access to lots of information about virtually any condition, procedure, doctor or dentist online.

Patients today rely on online doctor or dentist reviews and social media to help them determine which provider they ultimately choose. Apparently, healthcare practitioners have received the message. Doctors are now one of the largest consumer segments moving toward more aggressive online marketing. More healthcare providers are focusing on SEO-optimized websites, mobile websites and social media and managing their online reviews to engage new and current patients.

Online reviews have become extremely powerful for healthcare providers. When it comes to making healthcare decisions, consumers place high value on the experiences and opinions of actual patients. The power of an unbiased review should not be underestimated. Your marketing strategies for 2016 should be based on real-world considerations.

More Healthcare Websites Help Consumers Self-Diagnose

Years ago, people ran to their doctor whenever they had a headache or cold symptom because it was the only solution. They did not have readily available health information and relied on their doctors for everything. Today, major healthcare sites such as Medline, Mayo Clinic and WebMD help people make simple diagnoses themselves. Healthcare consumers have ready access to huge amounts of information online, and this can be dangerous for patients who misdiagnose themselves. The best way to avoid a wrong diagnosis is a face-to-face meeting with a doctor. Patients still need to trust their physician beyond what they learn online.

Healthcare Consumers Rely Heavily on Reviews

Effective marketing can dramatically increase your success in finding new patients. With the help of online platforms like Healthgrades, Vitals and Yelp, patients have a wealth of information at their fingertips. For doctors accustomed to getting new patients simply from referrals, signage and location conveniences, the challenge of attracting new patients will be even greater in 2016. With most healthcare consumers now using the Internet and online review platforms, doctors who don’t market put themselves at a critical disadvantage. A weak or nonexistent online presence simply cannot compete with the growing numbers of marketing-savvy doctors who market heavily online through web, SEO, social media and online reputation management.

Healthcare Consumers Want Natural Alternatives

More consumers in 2016 appreciate the value of natural therapies to replace prescription drugs and traditional treatments. Natural herbal remedies are increasing in popularity as the millennial population (ages 18 to 35) places greater emphasis on healthy eating, regular exercise, not smoking and treatment alternatives. Doctors who embrace and support such alternatives in their medical practice marketing will attract more patients. Doctors who carefully follow natural health and nutrition trends can more closely mirror the views of potential new patients. Doctors who ignore this new trend will alienate themselves from this new breed of consumers who prefer and support natural remedies.

Get expert help with your online medical practice marketing and dental practice marketing and improve patient engagement. Contact Practice Builders by emailing us at info@PracticeBuilders.com, calling 800.679.1200 or visiting PracticeBuilders.com. Request your complimentary Online Reputation Score by writing to info@PracticeBuilders.com.

If you wish to comment on this electronic newsletter’s content or subject matter, please email the editor at: hedgar@practicebuilders.com.

Practice Builders

Attract More Patients With a Better Online Reputation

Today’s patients have become increasingly smarter in terms of choosing the right healthcare practitioners for them. The rapidly growing trend is checking out a doctor’s or dentist’s online reviews before arranging a first consultation. Whether you are a doctor, a dentist or an ancillary health provider, it’s more important than ever to solidify your practice’s reputation online.

What people read about you online largely determines how they assess your medical or dental practice. A good review is a plus-point, while a bad review can do serious damage to your reputation. For doctors and dentists to remain competitive in the healthcare industry, it is important for them to maintain good online reputations. A solid strategy for online reputation enhancement and management is no longer optional. It’s a necessity.

Remember, a disgruntled patient or a sneaky competitor could be saying something negative online against you. One bad review may be shared with another user, which in turn may also be shared with another user. As a result, there will be an exponential rise in the number of times the bad review is shared. The same holds true for good reviews.

Online reputation management is about shaping people’s perceptions. This process involves mitigating bad reviews, facilitating and managing good reviews and maintaining a strong online presence with an easy to navigate, patient-friendly website.

Practice Builders

How to Share More Info on Social Media to Gain More Patients

To all doctors, dentists and veterinarians: If you have a website for your practice, you should have a few social media accounts to go with it. And even if you already have social media accounts, you should have a healthcare marketing plan in place for them to generate more followers. Take a look at these stats to see why:

  • 41% of people said that social media would affect their healthcare provider choice.
  • 18- to 24-year-olds are twice as likely as other age groups to use social media for health-related discussions.
  • 90% of adults would trust medical information shared on social media by their peers.
  • 51% of patients feel valued by doctors who use social media and other digital enhancements.

Whether you want to amp up your social media activity or if you want some new ideas about what you can share with your followers online, we have some ideas:

Articles

Online articles are a great resource to share online because they can encompass so many different topics.

You can (and should) share articles about your practice, about new discoveries in your field or informative articles about the healthcare services you offer. This will help generate information about your practice and the services that you offer through likes and shares, and it may encourage patients looking for those services to book an appointment with you.

Statistics

Sharing relevant statistics offers verified information that makes your practice look professional and knowledgeable.

Infographics

An infographic is a visual thought map that includes stats and facts about conditions and diseases that you specialize in. Creating them yourself to share on your social media accounts offers a quick and easy way to advertise your practice. Not only does it contain relevant health information that your patients would want to share, adding your name on it only encourages potential patients to contact you first.

Blog posts

Sharing posts from your custom blog, like sharing stats, helps make your practice look relevant, professional and expert in your field.

Press releases

The news about your practice in those press releases is made to draw attention to your practice and encourage new patients to book with you. By sharing press releases on social media, you can reach a wider target audience through likes and shares.

Our healthcare marketing consultants are experts at social media and can help develop a social media healthcare marketing plan that increases your followers and your online presence and helps generate patients. Plus, we offer social media content creation services. For more information, contact us at 800.679.1200 or by email at info@practicebuilders.com.

Medical, Dental Practice Marketing