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Tag Archives: Practice

Google Local Search Update: Why Online Reviews Matter for Your Practice

Google Local Search Update: Why Online Reviews Matter for Your Practice

Google’s latest local search update has highlighted the importance of online reviews in a customer’s decision-making process. Your practice’s online reviews are one of the most reliable ways for potential patients to determine whether your practice is good or not. Reviews are often so reliable that 91 percent of potential customers read reviews before making a buying decision, according to a BrightLocal survey.

As the world’s top search engine, Google is constantly striving to enhance and simplify the user experience. Google understands that one of the first things potential patients do when searching for a local healthcare provider is to read its online reviews. Knowing this, and understanding just how powerful reviews are, Google has now made it even easier for users to find them online. With the new update to Google’s local panel in mobile search results, potential patients can easily navigate to see all your practice’s online reviews. This will help them make quick and accurate decisions.

Being a healthcare provider comes with a lot of responsibilities. One responsibility you cannot afford to overlook is online patient reviews. Recent studies by BrightLocal.com reveal that nearly 84 percent of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Also, more than 54 percent of customers will visit the website after reading positive reviews online about the business. Combine these findings with the fact that Google now includes your practice’s reviews on searches, this makes your online reputation even more
important.

Google Local Search Update: Why Online Reviews Matter for Your Practice

A positive online reputation is one of your most powerful assets for attracting potential patients. The social proof contained within reviews and ratings helps potential patients make decisions faster and with greater confidence. Google continues to recognize and emphasize the importance of online reviews and has included a more substantial component of its Knowledge Panel called “Reviews from the Web.” This new section will feature customer reviews and ratings of businesses from third-party sites such as Facebook, Yelp and TripAdvisor.

Reviews from the Web is Google’s attempt to give businesses a way to display user-generated content. This new section acknowledges that customers care about a business’s reputation on trusted third-party websites.

How does this update impact your practice?

Likely rolled out as an extension of Critic Reviews, Reviews from the Web gives you the opportunity to showcase positive patient feedback and attract more patients.
With reviews from Google as well as other third-party review sites displaying directly in local search results, it is faster and easier for patients to find everything people are saying about your practice online. Do a quick online search for your medical practice to see what searchers are reading about you.

This update provides users exactly what they want: quick and easy access to your online reputation. It also highlights just how important online reviews are in a patient’s decision-making process and places a practice’s reputation into the limelight for everyone to see. You just cannot avoid it. Potential patients are going to read your reviews. Updates like these emphasize the importance of monitoring your online reputation and ensuring that your reviews outshine your competitors’.

Your practice’s local search ranking will benefit indirectly from more reviews because potential patients will be more inclined to click on practices with more positive reviews, which will lead to higher click-through rates.

Google Local Search Update: Why Online Reviews Matter for Your Practice

However, practices without a patient review strategy or unclaimed listings may find themselves at a disadvantage. Not only are patient reviews a ranking factor, but an influx of bad reviews is likely to drive away potential patients. For practices that have plenty of positive reviews to display and share, Reviews from the Web provides a valuable source of unique content that will engage patients and help attract more leads.

With Google displaying customer reviews from a number of external review sites, if you have been concentrating your review marketing efforts on a single site, now is the time to expand. Moreover, if you have not been considering a review marketing strategy, this is the time to plan one. You should focus your efforts on popular third-party sites such as Healthgrades, Vitals, Yelp and Facebook.

It is time to take control of your online reputation and begin asking patients for online reviews.

Improving your online reputation

Improving your practice’s online reputation and gathering more reviews is one of the most efficient ways to take your practice to the next level. However, establishing and maintaining your practice’s online reputation does not happen with a snap of your fingers. It requires an active approach to generate more reviews, improve star rating and respond to online reviews.

Regardless of the specialty or size of your practice, your potential patients are going to read and trust the feedback that your previous patients have given you. Moreover, if your reviews slant negative, most of your potential patients will go looking for your competition instead.

So, how can you turn around your online reputation?

1. Evaluate your patients’ experience: The best way to generate positive reviews is to ensure you are giving patients a positive experience. If you are consistently delivering good services, your online reputation will reflect it.

Tips to improve patients’ experience:

Take a good look at your recent patient feedback. Look for common issues, and take them seriously. Have many patients mentioned the rude staff, long waiting time or high prices? Identifying a few areas for improvement might be useful.

If you do not have a lot of online reviews, or if the reviews do not give you any helpful ideas for improvements, reach out to patients directly. Ask loyal patients for honest feedback about your services, staff attitude, prices and other important factors.

Another approach is to ask for feedback at the end of every consultation. You can ask insightful questions like, “How can we serve you better?” or “How has your experience been today?” You will be surprised how direct questions yield honest answers from your patients. You should train your staff to ask such questions, as well. When patients see that you care, they will be willing to share their feedback online as well as offline.

2. Ask for reviews: Getting reviews is as simple as asking for them. Most patients will gladly write a review when asked to do so. You can make this request at the end of every consultation. Based on the patient’s feedback, it will be easy to determine if he or she is happy with your services.

3. Follow a systematic approach: No doubt online reviews can make or break your online reputation. If patients see mostly negative reviews about your practice, they will be more likely to choose your competitors. Positive reviews signify a brand that patients can trust. However, positive reviews do not just happen overnight; they are the result of great patient experiences delivered consistently. If you are treating your patients the way they deserve to be treated, they will end up spreading the good word about your practice to their friends and family.

4. Respond to negative reviews: Most healthcare providers do not just sit back when a patient leaves a negative online review. Instead, they take the time to reply to feedback and attempt to resolve the conflict. By responding to a negative review, you show the unhappy patient that you care about your patients’ experiences and are continuously striving to improve your services.

While you may be tempted to get defensive when a reviewer seems unjustified, it is important to remain calm and look for a solution. In addition, you should offer to fix the problem and invite the patient to give your practice another try in the future. In some cases, a patient may even be satisfied with your response and decide to take down the negative review and leave a positive one in its place.

Conclusion

With updates like these, it is obvious that online reviews are about to become even more important. You must optimize your strategy to attract the best possible reviews for your practice and stay ahead of the competition.

Patients are leaving it up to search engines and third-party review sites to give them a narrowed-down list of the most trustworthy and relevant medical practices in their area. From there, they will take a few minutes to read and compare the reviews for top suggestions and confirm their decision within a matter of minutes. This means, as a practice looking to capitalize on this opportunity, it is your job to become one of the top local medical practices that Google recommends. You can do this by monitoring your reputation, generating positive reviews and taking the required steps to improve your local search rankings.

Schedule your free consultation with Practice Builders to learn how we can help you manage your online reputation and local search to win more patients. If you are struggling to establish or maintain your online reputation, there are plenty of reputation management consultants out who that can help you. The online reputation management experts at Practice Builders can help you gather positive customer reviews. Our experts will monitor your online presence while implementing effective strategies to help you look your best.

Google Local Search Update: Why Online Reviews Matter for Your Practice

Medical Healthcare Marketing

5 Fundamentals for Building an Effective Medical Practice Website

5 Fundamentals for Building an Effective Medical Practice Website

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

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

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

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

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

  • Begin with the end in mind

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

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

    How can you measure?

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

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

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

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

  • Make your website mobile-responsive

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

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

    How to check if your website is mobile responsive?

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

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

  • Do not compromise on content

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

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

    What makes good online content?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  •  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom line

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

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

5 Fundamentals for Building an Effective Medical Practice Website

Medical Healthcare Marketing

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

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

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

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

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

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

New patients

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

Pro-tip

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

During the patient’s visit

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

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

After the patient’s visit

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

Optimize your practice

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

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

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

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

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Importance of Patient Retention: 8 Benefits That Every Practice Loves

Importance of Patient Retention: 8 Benefits That Every Practice Loves

Is your medical practice more focused on patient acquisition or retention? If the answer is ‘acquisition,’ then you need to think about it. Because…

Importance of Patient Retention: 8 Benefits That Every Practice Loves

The above research makes it clear that the organizations are shifting focus from ‘acquisition only’ to ‘Equal focus on retention and acquisition.’ (Source: Econsultancy)

There are many good reasons behind this change…

  • Acquiring a new customer is five times costlier than retaining an existing one. (Source: Forrester)
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent, whereas the probability of selling to a new customer is five to 20 percent. (Source: Marketing Metrics)
  • Globally, the average cost of a lost customer is nearly $ 243 (Source: Kissmetrics)
  • The customer loyalty management market is likely to grow from $ 1.4 Billion in 2015 to $ 4.0 Billion by 2020. (Source: PR Newswire)

The above statistics explain why patient retention is so important for practice. These numbers are a good enough reason to understand that any medical practice should make patient retention a top priority.

While it would be ideal for every patient to stay with your practice for years, the truth is many will come for two visits and then never show up again. Regardless of the specialty and location of your practice, you will need to grow and develop your patient base in order to be successful. Repeat business is critical to your long-term success.

In a similar context, why is patient loyalty important for a medical practice? The following eight reasons make patient loyalty so important:

1.Repeat business: Loyal patients are more likely to come back to your practice and buy your products than new patients. According to a study, existing customers are 50 percent more likely to try new products than new customers. Now the question is, how can you motivate your existing patients to do repeat business with you? Many factors help practices to build customer loyalty as well as bring repeat business. Here are the key points to remember:

  • The first impression is the last impression: This is right for your medical practice as well. When you provide services for the first time to a patient, make sure everything is in proper order, including welcome greeting and remembering the patient’s first name. This will generate confidence and trust between you and your new patient. It will also help to build loyalty and eventually bring repeat business to your practice.
  • Stay in touch: Always stay connected with patients using their preferred mode of communication. Let your patients know that you are accessible and available to address their problems.
  • Improve customer service: This is because nearly 67 percent customers are likely to stop buying products from a brand due to bad customer experience.
  • Introduce a loyalty program: Every time a patient visits your practice, give him or her loyalty points or incentives. You can allow patients to accumulate these points and redeem for a free service or consultation. This will motivate your patients to come often and collect loyalty points.

2. Long-term patients tend to spend more: Loyal patients already have a relationship with your practice, and they trust you more than a new patient. A long-term patient is likely to spend more with each visit than someone new who walks into your practice for the first time. This is because accumulated trust built through the years will make the patient more confident to consider recommendations and other valuable services. This increased trust and confidence gives you an excellent opportunity to up-sell products and services. This will help in increasing sales volume without much effort on acquiring new patients.

Importance of Patient Retention: 8 Benefits That Every Practice Loves

3. Reduced marketing costs: This is one of the most significant benefits of patient retention and loyalty. Despite all your efforts into the online presence and social media marketing, people are strongly influenced by referrals from trusted friends and family. Word-of-mouth is the cheapest but the most effective marketing tool as it helps increase brand awareness, engage patients and attract potential patients. Loyal customers play an integral role in word-of-mouth marketing. Loyal customers talk about your brand publicly, share positive feedback, refer their friends and families, and like or share your posts on social media.

4. Minimum service cost: Long-term patients are easier and more profitable to serve. This is because they are familiar with a practice’s product and services, which helps them to solve most of their issues by themselves or by using an online knowledge base or FAQ. Not just this, long-term patients can help to address other patients’ problems as well. However, in order to achieve this, you will need to build an online community where your patients can share their experiences, problems, and solutions. Gradually, you can introduce more patients in that community. You can even consider offering loyalty points to patients who solve other issues successfully. There are many benefits of creating an online community:

  • New patients will get tried-and-tested resolutions of their problems from experienced patients.
  • Patient loyalty will eventually increase as existing patients will get incentives for providing successful solutions to new patients.
  • Lowered service cost
  • Round-the-clock support without any significant investment

5. Forecast accuracy: Forecasting plays a critical part in planning and running a medical practice. It will help you to get an overview of future expenses and revenue. The accurate forecast will help you calculate expenditure, growth rate, discounts, and plan for the contingencies. Without an accurate forecast, it will become difficult to plan for business investments and partnership opportunities. But how can long-term patients help in forecast accuracy? Feedback from loyal patients can provide valuable information about the average patient volume, product and service pricing, and help you build your USP as a medical practitioner. Therefore, more loyal patients you have, more precise forecast you can prepare.

6. Enhanced brand image: Your brand image is your patients’ perception about your products and services. A positive brand image will help you to acquire new patients, sell more, increase profitability, reduce marketing cost and attract business partnerships. Your brand image is one of the most valuable assets that you possess. It will convey to your patients what they can expect from your practice and services. However, building a brand image is an expensive and time-consuming process.

Patient loyalty and brand image are interconnected. Patient loyalty will help you improve brand image. On the other hand, a strong brand image will help you attract and retain more patients. Patients that are pleased with your practice are far more likely to refer you to their family and friends and spread the word on social media. When you think about it, patients that are satisfied with your services will help you bring in more business.

7. Stand out from competitors: In today’s competitive landscape, it is a challenge to differentiate your products from competitors. Your best product may get suppressed by your competitors tomorrow. Patient loyalty can help here because loyalty towards your brand will influence the buying decision of your patients. If your competitors have similar products as yours, but you have better customer loyalty, your products will be more popular and profitable among customers and prospects.

8. Honest feedback: According to a report, nearly 70 percent of businesses that deliver excellent customer experience use customer feedback. Similarly, loyal patients will provide an honest opinion about your business and services. Patients’ opinion can help you improve products and services, launch new services, measure patient experience and satisfaction, and retain patients and reduce attrition rate.

Increase patient retention with mobile apps

According to research by Solution Reach, every five years, physicians lose about 50 percent of their patient base. Obviously, you would never want to lose patients. But you will especially not want to lose patients because your competitor did a job better at attracting them than you did at retaining them. Medical practices of all sizes are adding mobile applications to their patient retention strategies in order to get an edge on the competition.

The need for a healthcare technology that seamlessly fits into your patients’ daily lives is greater than ever before. Practices are now demanding apps that can be accessed directly from a patient’s smartphone. These apps range in capabilities from monitoring health data to paying bills. Whatever the scenario, the most important factor is how the apps are incorporated in your patient retention strategies. If you are looking to add a mobile health app to your patient retention strategies, here are a few things you need to keep in mind:

User experience: The thumb rule is, any patient-facing technology should be easy to use. Complicated instructions will confuse and scare away any user. You should optimize the user experience with easily identifiable navigation buttons and text that is easy to read.

Use case: This refers to how the patient will use these apps to interact with your practice. For instance, if you are losing patients because they get frustrated with billing policies, consider adopting an app that will allow patients to monitor and manage their finances.

Patient feedback: You should understand the need and effectiveness of an app by asking patients for their feedback. You can take the patients’ survey by creating an anonymous using a tool like SurveyMonkey. This way, patients will feel comfortable giving their honest feedback about the effectiveness of the app. Keep your surveys short to increase your submissions further.

Importance of Patient Retention: 8 Benefits That Every Practice Loves

Cost: While this is a no-brainer, but worth including. Any mobile app you offer to patients should be free of cost. Patients should not be asked to pay for tools that are meant to help them take control of their healthcare experience. In addition, you will end up hurting patient retention if you offer apps that cost patients.

Ongoing Communications: The ability to be in constant contact with the patients is an added benefit of most healthcare apps. Patients will appreciate the convenience of mobile apps to get in touch with you and find solutions to some of their problems. A mobile app can be a great platform to push notifications about upcoming appointments, due bills, lab test results, etc. Staying in constant touch with your patients is essential to retaining them.

Focus on improving patient retention

In those eight benefits, we have covered lots of profitable business activities – repeat business, profitability, lowered costs, increased brand image and many more. Each of these benefits is a natural byproduct of focusing on patient retention.

Rewards and loyalty programs, promotions, discounts, advanced CRM systems, and even employee incentives are different ways to invest in patient retention.

Having a retention strategy means it is not up to patients to remember you… it is up to you to remember them. It is important not to ignore your current patients in pursuit of new ones.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Create A Powerful Brand for Your Medical Practice

Create A Powerful Brand for Your Medical Practice

Most of the choices we make as customers are based on effective branding. In most cases, we tend to go with brands we can relate to or associate with quality. Developing your brand is a critical component of your marketing strategy. A brand defines the core values of a business and promises a unique experience for the customers who connect to that brand.

When you hear the word “branding,” your first thought may be a logo or an ad. However, branding is much more than that. Your brand defines your business as a whole. Branding is the association that is attached to a business and its customers. The ultimate goal behind every branding exercise is to get potential customers to know, like and trust your business so that when the need for your product arises, they think of your business first.

So, how does this relate to a medical practice?

Your medical practice is a business, too, and in order to grow, it needs branding. In fact, if you do not focus on building a unique brand, your patients will create it for you, and it may not be the way you wanted it to be. For your medical practice, the brand is something your patients feel, hear or see when they visit your office, interact with you or deal with your staff. It includes your office décor and the usability of your website. It also includes the promotional material you provide to patients, such as brochures, leaflets, etc.

Why is branding important for your medical practice?

Create A Powerful Brand for Your Medical Practice

Simply because your brand is your reputation. All businesses benefit from great branding, but it is more critical in healthcare. Why? Because the decisions we make concerning our health are the most significant. You will buy a couple of tacos from a vendor you hardly know, but cardiac surgery? No. You must trust your healthcare providers, whether you know them or not.

In this always-plugged-in era, if you need a reputation for your practice, then you need branding too. Why? Because like other businesses, doctors are providing a service, too. When a patient hears your name, what do you hope he or she says about your practice? Branding will not only differentiate your practice from your competitors but will also instill trust and confidence in your patients. Active branding is necessary to ensure your medical practice is perceived well by your patients.

However, branding does not stop at establishing an identity. Ensuring consistency throughout all correspondence will increase brand awareness and eventually brand recognition. When patients see such consistency, their confidence and trust in your practice and services will begin to grow. Your practice will become more personable, which will result in happy and loyal patients who will want to come back to your practice again.

Establishing a brand will help propel you forward with the same uniqueness you handle your patients.

How do you brand your medical practice?

When you think of branding, you probably imagine a business logo, vision and mission statements and promotional material. While these items should be a part of your overall branding strategy, they are not the only elements you should focus on if you want to create an effective brand for your practice. Instead, you must ask yourself, “What sets my practice apart from other medical facilities? Do I have any specialty? Do I use any specific treatment techniques that result in higher success rates than others?” These things cab set you apart from other physicians. You must find ways to incorporate a unique value proposition (USP) as this will strengthen your brand identity.

If you are creating a branding strategy for your medical practice, follow these steps:

  • Identify your USP: To be successful in today’s competitive landscape, you must give patients a unique reason to choose you over your competition. Identifying your USP is one of the most crucial factors in branding your medical practice. Your USP gives you an edge and sets you apart from your competitors. You should take a step back and analyze what positive attributes you have within your practice that are working in your favor. Now, think of ways you can promote these attributes into the consciousness of your patients.
  • Define target audience: The demographics of your target audience can help you create an effective branding strategy that will catch the attention of prospects within that demographic. You may need to research in order to understand what factors drive patients to select a medical practice over its competitors in your area. Once you have your target audience identified, direct your branding efforts toward addressing their pain points.
  • Create visual branding elements: Visual marketing elements such as a logo and tagline are an important part of your branding strategy. These visual elements must convey the same feeling that you want patients to experience when they come in to your office. For beginners, your practice should have a logo that you can use on your website, business cards, brochures and any other promotional materials.
  • Use SEO to drive traffic to your website: Your branding strategy will not be able to work its magic unless potential and existing patients can find you online. Including relevant keywords in website content is one of the best ways to ensure your brand remains on top of search engine results. You can use keywords or phrases directly on your web pages or your blog.
  • Build a strong online presence: Your branding strategy depends on your ability to create a solid online presence across all media. You must utilize a consistent tone of voice and carefully selected text to portray your medical practice in the best light. Your message should represent your practice as a reliable and dependable medical facility that provides a positive experience for every phase of a patient’s journey. You can leverage social media platforms to interact with your patients and portray your practice as an industry leader.
  • Communicate your USP to patients: Now it is time to deliver your message and USP to your target audience. This process involves intricately weaving your USP with text and visuals throughout your online and traditional marketing campaigns. Now take a step back, look at your practice website and ask yourself, “Does this convey what I want it to?” If the answer is no, it is time to go back to the storyboard.
  • Position your brand as an industry leader: Strong branding helps raise your practice above the competition by highlighting your USP. With time, current and potential patients will gravitate toward your practice’s presence upon encountering advertisements from your team. You should continue maintaining your website and social media accounts to help your practice attract new patients and retain existing ones.
  • Monitor patient experience: All of the elements stated above tie in to the patient experience. You might be doing your best to foster your brand, but your brand image ultimately depends on how your patients feel and how they perceive your practice. If you are failing to give them the experience they expect, you are downgrading your brand. Instead of guessing or assuming what your patients want, just ask them. You can request them to fill out a patient satisfaction survey after the appointment and monitor online reviews on sites like Vitals, Yelp and Healthgrades. Online reviews and patient surveys will give you a better idea of what patients want and whether you are on the right track.

Create A Powerful Brand for Your Medical Practice

“Why you?”

Once you have successfully positioned your brand, you will need to deliver on your promises every single day, and not just in your promotional messages. Remember, your brand is an aggregate of what your patients experience with your practice, which is larger than your mission or vision statements. To put it differently, you can only position your practice, but your brand is essentially an emotional response you are working to establish.

When looking to build your brand, you have to make sure every element of your branding strategy is closely tied up – the way your phone is answered, appointment times, waiting room décor, bedside manners of your staff, technology, location, parking, treatments that you promote and much more. If you aim to be the “leading healthcare provider in town,” you cannot afford to have substandard facilities and long waiting hours.

It is possible to create the brand you want for your practice, but only if you remain consistent in your efforts. It is going to require hard work and dedication, but the result will be in the form of an established brand that your patients have confidence in.

In closing

Your brand is a unique entity that makes an unspoken promise about the quality of care that can be expected from your practice. You will be able to create a strong brand when you choose to promote a facility or feature that makes you different from others. So, call your team, and embrace the creative ways your employees can come together to nurture your brand. Keep the quality consistent and patients will happily spread kind words about your brand.

If you are ready and looking for a partner to put all the pieces of the branding puzzle together for your medical practice, call Practice Builders at 855.898.2710 or reach us online. We can help you create an effective brand for your medical practice.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Jam-packed waiting rooms, busy schedules, longer wait times, doctors too stressed to listen to their patients — such feedback is common when we talk about healthcare practitioners.
However, what may come as a surprise to us is that these sentiments are conveyed by both doctors and patients. This is why many medical practitioners are seeking a solution called “concierge medicine.”

What exactly is a concierge practice?

In the hospitality industry, “concierge” means personalized service. For instance, we can request a hotel concierge to make lunch reservations for us and say thanks with a tip that can be paid before or after the services are rendered.

Similarly, in the medical world, concierge practice, also known as boutique practice or direct care, is about delivering personalized services, from a doctor to his or her patients. A concierge practice charges patients an annual fee in exchange for personalized and enhanced services that are usually not covered under insurance plans.

The patient pays an annual fee for personalized care, as defined by the physician. The personalized and enhanced medical services may include unlimited office visits, easier and quicker appointments, less waiting time, immediate access to the physician through a phone call, texting or email consultations, easy renewal of prescriptions, home visits and wellness services such as annual checkups. However, concierge practices vary widely in their structure, payment conditions and range of medical services covered.

According to research conducted by Concierge Medicine Today, more than 12,000 physicians in the U.S. operate concierge practices. Most concierge practices bill patients’ insurance for regular services and charge an additional annual fee for round-the-clock access to doctors, extended appointments and other services, such as house calls.

Merritt Hawkins, a healthcare search firm, conducted the 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians and revealed that a huge percentage of physicians are planning to pursue the concierge model. Some of the key findings from the survey are:

  • Seven percent of physicians are already practicing concierge medicine.
  • More than 13 percent of physicians plan to transition to concierge medicine at some point in their careers.
  • Younger physicians, aged 45 or younger, are more likely to consider concierge practice.
  • Physicians who convert to concierge from traditional practice can retain about 25 percent of their existing patients.

However, concierge practice is not a substitute for health insurance. The annual fee or retainer, no matter how expensive, does not cover out-of-office visits to specialists, ER, hospitalization, major surgery or high-end diagnostic scans. On top of that, patients’ insurance or Medicare does not reimburse the annual fee, while some of the cost may be covered by the patients’ health savings accounts.

Concierge medicine comes in many variations. In some concierge practices, patients pay an annual fee in addition to office visit fees; in others, the annual fee is inclusive of all in-office care. There is another option known as the hybrid practice, where the doctor continues to see all patients but schedules a few hours each day for patients who pay an extra fee.

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Are you thinking of switching to concierge practice?

Physicians who switch to concierge practice say they do so because they were fed up with the assembly-line medicine and ever-rising overhead costs. The flat and reduced insurance reimbursements further fueled their decision to opt for a concierge practice. According to most physicians, the only way to keep afloat is to see many patients and spend less time with each one.

However, critics are of the opinion that if too many doctors choose concierge practice, we will be left with fewer doctors to go around, making it tough for patients to find a physician.

Critics have apprehensions about the impact of the concierge practice model on the health of patients. This is primarily because concierge practice works on the convenience side, and getting extensive consultation may not necessarily mean better care. Industry experts are of the view that concierge care may lead to overtreatment, which will not benefit the patient.

In case you are considering converting your traditional practice to a concierge care model, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Assess your existing patients: Is your current patient base looking for 24/7 Internet access? Will they prefer home visits? It is critical to understand which services will appeal to patients with this kind of arrangement. It is equally important to gauge which services and facilities patients will want to pay extra for. A patient survey will also help you evaluate patient loyalty. Are your patients emotionally attached to you and the practice? Will they follow you wherever you go and whichever new services you offer to them?
  • Create a package and fee structure: Your menu of services and fee structure will depend on your potential patients’ needs and their willingness to pay for premium-level care. You will need to put together a complete package — wellness package, weight management, exercise tips and comprehensive tests with everything from stress testing to a full body test. You may continue to see sick patients, but your focus will be toward preventive medicine. Later, based on your potential patient population, you can calculate what you need to charge to deliver excellent-quality services.
  • Create a schedule: Transitioning from a traditional practice to a concierge practice is labor-intensive. A realistic plan, complete with milestones and benchmarks, will help you keep things on track and maintain continuity.
  • Pay attention to legal issues: You will need to work with a reputed healthcare attorney who is familiar with the legal procedures and requirements for structuring a concierge-style practice.
  • Create promotional literature: In order to reach out to existing and potential patients, you will need to promote a new brand image that is consistent with the premium level of services you will be offering.
  • Have meetings with insurers: As a rule, health plans cannot stop physicians from opening concierge-style practices. Insurers will continue to cover contractually obligated office- and hospital-based services. Still, insurers are being careful. You must be prepared to share whatever promotional material you have and to make any reasonable changes.
  • Send an introductory letter to patients: Send a letter to your current patients explaining your transition from a traditional practice to concierge-style practice. This may be the hardest step in your transition. It is critical to have a well-crafted letter in order to recruit established patients to your new practice. Keep the letter short and crisp, and invite patients to contact you for further information. Moreover, even the most professionally written letter may not win over all hearts and minds. Some patients will unconditionally follow you, others will wish they could, and some patients will be angry.
  • Follow up with patients: After sending the introductory letter, you can invite patients for one-on-one meetings. These follow-up meetings will give you the chance to talk in greater detail about your concierge practice and the premium level of services you will be offering.

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Different flavors of concierge practice

Most concierge practices can be categorized as fee-for-service care (FFC), fee-for-service extra care (FFEC) or hybrid concierge.

In the FFC model, patients pay an upfront annual fee that covers most of the services offered by the physician. However, there is an additional patient charge for vaccinations, lab work, X-rays and other services that fall outside the annual fee structure. FFC is usually known as a no-frills, low-cost variation that includes fewer services in the fixed price.

In the FFEC model, the patient pays an annual fee, but the extra services that fall outside the retainer are billed to the patient’s insurance provider by the physician.

The third business model is called a hybrid concierge model. In this model, the patient gets two choices. First: Pay annual fee for specific services with insurance billing for services not part of the package. Second: Opt out of the enhanced services package so that the practice bills all services to the insurer.

However, in all three business models, the practice is responsible for determining what services are included in the package. The practice also decides whether or not to accept cash and/or credit card payment. In addition, the practice decides on the frequency of fee (monthly, quarterly or annually).

For most physicians, the key benefit of adding a concierge service to their practice is the ability to spend quality time with patients. Personalized service and longer visits usually result in increased patient satisfaction. According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, School of Public Health, patients are happier with their medical care when they have extra time to spend with their doctors.

Some pros and cons!

Better patient care will be a clear result of having the extra time to spend with them. For doctors who treat chronic illnesses, concierge arrangement can vastly improve the quality of care and overall health of their patients.

Concierge practice can also help patients feel they are getting value for their money. After paying an up-front fee, unlimited access to their doctors with extensive consultations can feel very comforting, especially for patients with chronic health problems.

In a time where insurance reimbursements are decreasing, and costs are increasing, considering a retainer may be a good way to increase revenue, but the decision to switch from a traditional practice to a concierge practice comes with some drawbacks.

You may lose patients who do not want or cannot afford your payment structure or amount. Even if you are lucky enough to gain a significant number of patients after the transition, that initial loss could be upsetting for your practice. The loss of existing patients and the cost of attracting new patients are why most practices do not forsake the traditional payment system of commercial insurance and Medicare.

You should also consider the new demands that personalized services will place on your practice. Some concierge practices offer a broad range of services, including 24-hour access to the doctor, transportation and home visits. If your practice still has limited staff, you may not be able to meet every need without hiring outside help, and that may prove costly. You may choose to see fewer patients, but that may not be feasible considering your financial goals. Providing a flat fee for regular visits will not justify the cost for most patients, and therefore you will have to include additional services to make concierge practice worth it.

For some physicians, concierge practice is an excellent way to increase profits, save time, develop better relationships with their patients and provide quality care. For others, it may mean loss of profits and patients. If you are planning to make a switch from your traditional practice to concierge practice, it is important to consider its impact on your profitability and patient care.

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Medical Healthcare Marketing

10 Cost-Efficient and Effective Ideas to Market Your Medical Practice

10 Cost-Efficient and Effective Ideas to Market Your Medical Practice

Marketing your medical practice is an art as well as a science. This is because marketing requires inventing innovative strategies, and artistically executing them, and effectively connecting with target audiences. However, some strategies may yield better outcomes, depending on how you implement them and who your target audiences are.

With the wide variety of marketing channels available for marketing your medical practice, it is not surprising to feel stumped. Keeping this in mind, we have put together some of the most cost-effective yet efficient marketing ideas for your medical practice. You may have already heard of these ideas but dismissed them as outdated. However, even top-notch medical professionals engage in marketing tactics and see their medical practice grow and thrive. Read on.

Why must you market your practice?

According to various studies, patients are always looking for healthcare providers online. In fact, as healthcare shifts from a provider-driven system to a patient-driven system, patients are increasingly looking for providers who can partner with them and advise them.

Marketing is an influential way for you to show your skills to your target audiences. As you establish yourself as a healthcare expert, it becomes imperative to build a level of trust between your practice and your patients. Through your various marketing efforts, you can demonstrate your commitment as well as your passion for serving the community.

Effective strategies that will not cost a fortune

Content marketing. Website. Social media. Email marketing.

Email marketing is still a top choice for personalized communication. It is cheap, easy and quick. You can use it to stay in touch with current and potential patients. You can send individual mailers and newsletters. You can also send messages to targeted groups and still personalize them for each patient. Email has proven to be perfect for sending appointment reminders.

10 Cost-Efficient and Effective Ideas to Market Your Medical Practice

  • Useful content is still the king. Creating quality content about your specialty and products is a tried and tested way of marketing your medical practice. Scalable and rich content will add value to your brand name. Good-quality content plays a significant role in search engine ranking. Search engines are intelligent enough to understand whether or not you are providing relevant information. Therefore, stuffing your website and blogs with well-known keywords may not work for long. Instead, when you focus on creating well-written content with accurate information, search engines will spot it and reward you with a higher ranking.
  • Email marketing is one of the best ways to remind patients of their upcoming appointments. You can schedule follow-up emails for three to five months after each appointment to ensure your patients do not miss their annual checkups. Through emails and newsletters, you can also update existing patients with healthcare tips, seasonal offers and discounts, and updates about your practice. It is surprisingly easy to kick-start your email marketing and start attracting more patients.
  • A website is an extension of your practice and a reflection of the skills and attention you provide to patients. Not only is it important to have a website, but it is also essential to make it look welcoming and informative. According to Pew Research Center, almost 72 percent of U.S. adults search for health information online. Therefore, if you want to market your medical practice, you will have to be present online. While you may be using several ways to market yourself online, all of your marketing efforts must point to one central location – your practice website. If you already have a website, you must upgrade to a responsive, mobile-friendly site. This is because non-responsive websites may not rank well in Google search results.
  • Print and electronic media are still an excellent way to spread the word about your medical practice. Traditional media can help you attract a large volume of patients and improve the brand image of your practice. You can consider billboards, TV and radio commercials, and print ads for marketing your service to your target audience. Print and electronic ads are a great way of promoting an upcoming event or if you wish to announce your new location or addition to your medical practice. Press releases are also an effective way to get the word out about public events such as a seminar on general health, an open house on diabetes care or a health fair.
  • Social media platforms are a great tool for connecting with your patients and advertising your medical practice. Nearly 40 percent of social media users manage their health based on the information they receive through social media platforms. Millennials are twice as likely to have online discussions regarding health issues. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great for engaging your patients by regularly posting health tips and news related to your practice. You do not have to be present and active on every social platform. Just make sure that you are posting regularly in order to attract more followers. You can decide to make a posting schedule to help you stay on track. However, using social media infrequently, or using it in the wrong way, can do more harm than good.
  • Customer review sites such as Yelp and Healthgrades are becoming popular among patients. These review sites can open the door for you to engage with your patients. Online reviews are being increasingly utilized by existing and potential patients. According to a recent survey, more than 28 percent of potential patients regularly search third-party customer review sites. Online reviews are great tools that can help you ensure the quality of patient care. Your practice will have a better chance of serving your patients well if you can utilize the power of online reviews for marketing your medical practice.
  • NAP stands for name, address and phone number of your medical practice. It is critical to be consistent with this information every time you use it. This means every time you create a social media account or get your practice listed on an online directory, you must use the same NAP. You must mention accurate NAP on your practice website, social networks and local online directories.
  • Referrals and partnerships can trigger the growth of your medical practice. Industry experts believe that referred patients are more loyal and profitable than regular patients. This means that building referral programs and developing cordial relationships with fellow physicians is essential for every medical practice. A successful referral program can create a continuous stream of new patients. Moreover, once your partner physicians start referring patients to your practice, brand awareness and reputation are apparent benefits. Physician referrals are a critical component in growing your practice and attracting new patients.
  • Online local directories are essential for the growth of your medical practice. With the majority of patients using search engines to find local practices, getting listed in local directories is critical. These directories can improve the health of your medical practice and can take it to the next level. While some of these local directories, such as Healthgrades, Vitals and ZocDoc, are specific to the medical community, other directories such as Google+ Local and Yahoo! Local are not industry-specific.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about selecting the most appropriate keywords for your medical practice. To choose the best-suited keywords for your practice, you will need to get into the minds of your potential patients. You may need to consider all the possible keywords that your patients may type into the search engine in order to find a new doctor in their area. The more relevant keywords you pick, the more relevant patients you will attract. Other than keywords, another factor that can affect SEO rankings is how quickly your website loads. A website that loads quickly can boost your SEO efforts, whereas a website that takes a longer time will fail to attract and engage visitors.

Effective marketing strategies will increase ROI

The success of your medical practice depends on your marketing efforts. In today’s competitive landscape, you cannot increase ROI simply by employing a tailored marketing strategy.

So the next pertinent question is: Are there any tips for attracting new patients and growing your practice? There is no “one size fits all” formula to market your medical practice. Strategies for marketing your medical practice may vary from one practice to another. A strategy that may work for one practice may not work for others. You will need to focus your marketing efforts on your skills and specialties, along with referrals from patients and other physicians in the area. Knowing your niche and marketing your medical practice is critical to your success.

Over to you

If you are still not sure how to market your medical practice online, Practice Builders can assist you. Our marketing specialists can develop a custom campaign unique to your needs. For more information, contact a representative.

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

20 Most Effective Doctor Marketing Tips for Attracting New Patients and Growing Your Practice

20 Most Effective Doctor Marketing Tips for Attracting New Patients and Growing Your Practice

Effective marketing is powerful. Successful medical practices understand the value of having an integrated marketing strategy that includes traditional and online marketing to reach, attract and retain patients. Having an effective strategy and knowing your target audience is imperative for the success of your medical practice in 2017.

Many medical practitioners believe that medical practices do not need a marketing strategy because everyone needs a doctor. While this is correct, medical practices still need to advertise because when people need a doctor, they will not contact a medical practice that they do not even know exists. Also, there is more competition than ever in the medical community. Therefore, it is critical for every medical practice to have an effective marketing strategy. In the absence of a marketing strategy, a medical practice will not have a consistent flow of patients to keep the practice running. Keeping this in mind, here are a few doctor marketing tips that are essential to the success of your medical practice:

  • Focus on enhancing the patient experience: One of the best ways to stand out in a crowded healthcare marketplace is to provide an excellent patient experience. An unmatched patient experience is a way to compete in 2017. Unfortunately, most practices do not have a patient experience strategy that tracks and improves all of the touch points of a patient’s journey. It is essential to understand what your patients need in order to build a successful patient experience strategy.
  • Provide quality content on your website: In 2017, it will become even more critical for medical practices to invest in SEO tactics. Therefore, quality content should be a part of your SEO plan. You can develop content to inform patients about your practice, specialty and work hours. Quality content plays a significant role in search engine ranking. It is imperative to create content keeping patients in mind. Search engines are intelligent enough to gauge the relevance and quality of your content. However, if you are creating well-written content with relevant information, search engines will reward you with better rankings.
  • Upgrade to a mobile-friendly website: According to a Google survey, nearly 61 percent of visitors will leave a website if it is not mobile-friendly. It is important to make your website stick to responsive design principles. Not only will that make it comfortable for potential patients to use your practice website, but it will also offer SEO benefits as Google favors responsive websites over standard websites.
  • Use Google for attracting local patients: A lot of potential patients are searching Google to find local medical practices. Make sure when potential patients search for medical practices in your area, they find your website on the first page of the search engine results. You must encourage your patients to go to your Google Places listing and leave a review of your practice after their appointment. Once you receive a high number of positive reviews, your practice will start showing in the local search results on Google, which will help you attract local patients to your practice.
  • Do not forget social media marketing: Social media has become one of the most influential marketing tools for medical practices, but you must utilize it properly to reap maximum benefits. Social media is certain to play a vital role in how medical practices market themselves in 2017. You must select your social media platforms wisely and make sure to market your practice the right way. Having a widespread presence on social media is a great way to build a brand following, which may drive new patients to your practice.
  • Network with other physicians: In order to grow, specialty practices need a referral base. Getting a new patient as a referral from another doctor requires a relationship-building technique. You must identify which doctors can recommend your practice to their patients and then develop a strategy to achieve those goals. You must focus on building relationships with other physicians by joining local medical associations and attending relevant seminars and functions.
  • Convey your message through blogging: Blogging is a proven way to reach, retain and engage your patients. If done right, blogging can take your marketing strategy to a new level. However, as a busy medical practitioner, you may need to overcome a few barriers in order to be a successful blogger. Keep the tone of your blog casual, and it should not be too lengthy.
  • Emphasize your skills and specialty: This is even more important if your practice is located in a competitive area. When a patient is searching for a new medical practitioner, he or she wants as much information as possible to be able to make an informed decision. For instance, if there are four dentists in your area, but your practice is the only one that offers a certain procedure, this is something you should emphasize on your website and in other marketing efforts.
  • Get listed on Google My Business: It is important fo you to get listed on Google My Business as it is an ideal platform for promoting a brick-and-mortar medical practice. Once you have created and claimed your business listing, you must ensure that all of your information is consistent and accurate across various online directories and citations. It is also important to sign up on third-party review sites such as Healthgrades, Vitals, ZocDoc, RateMDs and many more.
  • Follow up with your patients: Medical marketing is a tricky business. The best way for a medical practice to market itself is by taking care of its patients. If done properly, you will be rewarded with positive word-of-mouth, and that is the best possible promotion any medical practice can have. Create an extensive follow-up program. Send regular emails advising your patients to follow instructions after their last visit and reminding them of upcoming appointments.

Over to you

While it is important to have a successful marketing campaign in place, it all boils down to the quality of patient experience you provide. Your patients will notice it, appreciate it and reward you by sticking around and referring your practice to their family and friends. Incorporate these doctor marketing tips into your strategy, and you will be welcoming patients through your practice doors in no time.

If you need any help with your doctor marketing strategy, we are here to help. Contact Practice Builders for a free consultation today.

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