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8 Ways to Improve SEO Ranking of Your Healthcare Website

8 Ways to Improve SEO Ranking of Your Healthcare Website

When most people hear about search engine optimization (SEO), they think of researching keywords and building links. While this is somewhat correct, that is not all there is to modern SEO. These days, analytics and content play a significant role in improving the ranking of your healthcare website.

However, if you have been persistently working on keyword optimization but are not getting the desired results, you need to consider other factors that impact SEO ranking. It is important to consider that search engine algorithms not only rate the relevance of your keywords, they also assess vital information such as the average duration visitors stay on your website, bounce rate, pages viewed, broken links, outbound and inbound links and many more.

Getting visitors to stay on your website and engage with your content can boost your website’s ranking, and you can achieve this by making your website easy to navigate and by providing useful content.

Including well-researched keywords to get visitors to click through to your website is only half the story. You will need to optimize your website for visitors who use search engines and endeavor to make user-friendliness an important goal.

In this article, we will look at the various aspects of website usability that impact its ranking and how you can improve ranking by enhancing your website’s usability.

8 Ways to Improve SEO Ranking of Your Healthcare Website

So, what exactly is website usability, and how can it improve SEO ranking?

The usability of a website includes many design elements, most of which are tied to conversion rates. Here are some of the key elements that affect your website ranking:

  • Effectiveness: Are visitors able to achieve their objectives when they land on your healthcare website? Do they find your website easy to navigate? Can they quickly find the information they need?
  • Efficiency: In addition to being easy to navigate, how quickly can a visitor find the desired information on your website? If visitors cannot find the required information effectively and efficiently, they will navigate away.
  • Learnability: Are the calls-to-action prominent? This is because if visitors are spending too much time searching for information on your website, they will spend less time consuming that information.
  • Memorability: Are the keywords associated with your website search-relevant and memorable enough so that visitors can find your website again? Repeat traffic can help boost your Google ranking.
  • Error Prevention: A broken link error can affect not only user experience but also SEO ranking. For instance, a 404 Page Not Found error or a broken link that is no longer valid can severely impact user experience and website usability.

Search engines prefer websites that are user-friendly and provide useful content. Google favors websites that are not only rich in keywords but that also establish visitor engagement.

SEO ranking improves significantly when visitors stay on your website longer, view more sections or pages and repeat their visits. The more user-friendly your website is, the more likely visitors are going to return to it.

Here are eight elements that not only increase your website’s usability but also help improve SEO ranking:

  • Keyword research: The most important step of a successful SEO campaign is keyword research. While doing keyword research, try to find which keywords or phrases potential patients are using to find your website and then decide which ones to target. Ideally, the keywords with more potential are the ones with a higher search volume and low competition. Unfortunately, your competitors must be doing similar research. This makes these keywords limited and insufficient to support your SEO campaign. Try to include long tail keywords. You must analyze your competitors’ online marketing practices, improve upon them and create your SEO strategy.
  • High-quality content: Without useful content, you cannot practice effective SEO. In order to develop an effective SEO strategy, you will need to create and publish content that is appealing to your target audience and optimized for search. Creating relevant content that generates leads means building a strong brand that improves your credibility, strengthens your brand image and expands your market presence. According to research, content between 2,000 to 2,500 words is likely to rank higher in search engine results. Although word count does not rule the SEO world and nobody will read your content if it is not informative, longer content gives you the opportunity to include more keywords and outbound links and get people to spend more time on your website. Another reason to create compelling content is that when visitors bookmark your website or content on Chrome, it helps to improve your SEO ranking in Google.

8 Ways to Improve SEO Ranking of Your Healthcare Website

  • Page loading speed: Most search engines include page load speed in their website ranking algorithm. Visitors may leave your website if they have to wait an extra few seconds for each page to load. This may increase bounce rate and reduce the number of pages viewed, which will impact your SEO ranking. Some studies indicated that 40 percent of visitors would abandon a website that takes longer than three seconds to load. There are many effective ways to increase page load speed, such as using a caching plug-in, keeping the code clean, optimizing images and minimizing redirects. Correctly optimizing images can help reduce file size and improve page load speed. Upgrading your web host to a virtual private network (VPN) can help reduce page load times.
  • Technical optimization: Search engines such as Google and Bing use software called crawlers to read your website’s content and code. If your practice website is not technically perfect, it may be difficult for crawlers to read and understand its content, which will impact its rank in search engine results. It is critical to check the following technical points:
  • URL structure: Try to keep the URLs under 100 characters long, use dashes instead of underscores, and avoid special characters.
  • Title tags: Include a unique title tag on every page, and restrict the length of the title tag to 75 characters. Be sure to include relevant keywords in the title tag.
  • Meta description tags: Include a unique meta description tag on every page. Meta descriptions should ideally be up to 160 characters long and briefly describe the page.
  • Heading tags: Headings are part of the webpage’s HTML and are visible to visitors. Every web page should have only a unique H1 heading tag. Correct use of header tags can help divide your content into sections that are easier to read. Search engines focus more on keywords in header tags. By including relevant keywords in your header tags, you can boost your SEO ranking.
  • Duplicate content: These issues occur when the same content exists on your website under different URLs. This can have adverse effects on your website’s ranking as search engines may not know which version to include in their index. It is recommended to either remove the duplicate content or create redirections between the different versions.
  • Structured data: Structured data allows you to add special markup to your content, which helps the search engines to understand its type. Structured data can also provide rich snippets for your web pages in the search results pages, which can help you achieve higher rankings.
  • Quality of outbound and inbound links: To make your content more relevant, you can link out to authority websites for providing in-depth information to your readers. This will not only increase the credibility of your content and increase the time visitors spend on your website, but it is also likely to send trust signals to search engines to improve SEO ranking. However, too many outbound links can make the content hard to get through.
  • Video content: A variety of graphics, including videos and slideshows, can enrich the user experience and help to deliver content in a way that is best-suited to your target audience. Video content is increasingly gaining importance in driving user engagement and conversion. According to research, websites using videos can achieve a nearly five percent conversion rate compared to a three percent conversion rate on websites that do not use video content.

8 Ways to Improve SEO Ranking of Your Healthcare Website

  • Mobile optimization: Being mobile-friendly is as important for healthcare websites as it is for other businesses. Google penalizes websites that are not mobile-friendly by bringing down their search ranking. More and more patients are consuming online content on mobile devices, and not being mobile-friendly will affect user experience and conversion rates. Going mobile does not have to be restricted to just having a responsive website. You can take it a step further and develop an app. By making your website mobile-friendly and offering a related app, you can make made your services easily accessible to a target audience.
  • Social sharing: The number of posts and shares on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media platforms can significantly influence SEO ranking. Installing social sharing buttons on your practice website not only makes it easy for patients to share your content but it can also help you rank higher on searches. Social sharing can also drive purchasing behavior.

8 Ways to Improve SEO Ranking of Your Healthcare Website

Conclusion

If you feel you have to squeeze a keyword into a sentence, you are approaching SEO with the wrong approach. While keyword density was a common concept a few years ago, it is not very relevant these days. Instead, focus on creating content that your existing and potential patients will find useful.

If your website content sounds unnatural because you are trying to optimize it for search engines, change it. Search engines are cracking down harder on keyword stuffing, so these age-old tactics are likely to cause your rankings to drop, killing your online reputation.

You do not have to spend a lot of hard-earned money to dramatically improve your search visibility. Even simple steps can help you achieve a major SEO boost. In the end, SEO is all about improving the user experience and enhancing the usability of your practice website. Any positive change that makes your visitors happier and more comfortable navigating your website is likely to make search engines happier, too.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

4 ways to get your medical staff into PR mode

We all have a lot of responsibilities at work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article was first published in April 2015

HealthCareCommunication.com

Infographic: 5 ways to help kids ingest medication

As if toilet training, tying shoes and riding a bike aren’t enough, teaching children to swallow pills and hideous tasting liquid meds can be a challenge.

Here are a few tricks you and your medical team can offer to frustrated parents:

  • Tilting the head

  • Using throat spray

  • Starting with small sizes and working your way up

This infographic, shared by Advocate Health, has encouraging advice that health care providers can pass along to patients:

(View a larger image)

5-tips-to-help-your-child-take-medication

This article was first published in August 2016.

HealthCareCommunication.com

Top 25 Ways to Attract More Patients to Your Medical Practice

Top 25 Ways to Attract More Patients to Your Medical Practice

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

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

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

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

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

4. Build a mobile-responsive website: Having a modern and easy-to-use website is critical for the growth of your practice and for attracting new patients. Make sure your website is responsive and works equally well on mobile devices. The objective of your practice website is to educate your potential patients so they can make an informed decision and call your clinic for an appointment. Creating a relevant and informational website is probably the most important marketing tool at your disposal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Medical Healthcare Marketing

9 Ways to Make Your Practice’s Website More Responsive

9 Ways to Make Your Practice's Website More Responsive

The very first encounter many of your patients will have with your practice is their Internet search for you, making your website your first opportunity to attract and convert patients and boost patient satisfaction. The user experience you provide should be one that loads quickly, states information clearly and navigates effortlessly. Many desktop sites don’t offer this when viewed on a mobile device. According to a KCPB Internet Trends 2015 report, people spent more of their Internet time on their phones vs. other computing devices. Bottom line: If your website isn’t responsive, you’re already missing the mark to attract patients and achieve high scores on those patient satisfaction surveys!

The concept of responsive web design is simple: One single website designed so that it adapts on-the-fly to fit various viewing devices (screen sizes, orientations, etc.). Eliminating the need to maintain multiple websites, designing a responsive website is crucial for the success of your practice.

Here are nine tips to make your website design more responsive:

1. Avoid flash. Keep videos and large images to a minimum, as they increase the loading time for your pages.

2.Make sure your viewport accommodates various sizes. A viewport is a meta tag at the header of a page that tells browsers how to display the site’s content. If you do not have a viewport meta tag, mobile browsers will default to desktop dimensions, which is cumbersome on mobile devices. You also shouldn’t specify dimensions in the viewport information, but leave it as width=device-width to accommodate for different screen sizes. Google has a step-by-step tutorial here.

3. Create “tap-able” links and buttons. Fingers on touch screens need a larger target than someone working with a mouse at a desktop would. Make sure the buttons and links are spaced far enough apart that mobile users don’t accidentally hit something else.

4. Enlarge fonts and image resolution. For fonts, 16 pixels is the recommended minimum. For images, use high-resolution photos that can withstand the scrutiny of high definition screens and the ability to zoom in.

5. Include a working telephone button on your website so that users can tap it and call your office right away.

6. Keep the most important information at the top of the page. Remember that mobile users have to scroll. Don’t force users to scroll through a lot of content in order to find out how to contact you or make an appointment. Put that information – how to make appointments, find your office, etc. – toward the top of the page.

7. Listen to Google. Google has a list of factors it considers part of mobile-friendliness. Get familiar with them so you understand how your site’s usability stacks up and what the problem areas may be. You can peruse the “Mobile Usability” section of their Search Console guide here. Google also provides a free Mobile-Friendly Test tool.

8. Use YouTube for videos. To make sure your videos display properly on devices of all sizes, upload your healthcare site’s videos using YouTube. YouTube’s code is responsive already, meaning it will show up in the right proportions based on a device’s screen size.

9. Test your site on multiple mobile devices to spot any trouble spots. Try each button, video and link, and fill out any forms on your site on each device.

A responsive website is a crucial part of your healthcare marketing plan. Practice Builders will give you a free marketing consult to evaluate your website and create a plan of action to make it more responsive. Sign up for a free consultation with us today; simply call us at 855.898.2710 or email us at info@PracticeBuilders.com.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

7 Ways to Motivate Patients to Achieve Their 2017 Health Goals

7 Ways to Motivate Patients to Achieve Their 2017 Health Goals

Patient compliance is a challenging issue for the medical professional. Your desire to help your patients succeed is often derailed when they don’t do their part. Get a jump-start in January and use the New Year’s motivating force to your advantage!

Use these seven strategies to motivate patients to change, and help them meet their healthcare goals:

1. Set simple goals. You know where your patients need to be and the steps it will take to get there, so break their big goals into smaller ones and present them one at a time. For example, if you’re a physical therapist and know your patient’s end goal is to walk again, break that down into manageable goals that your patient can meet. It will be less overwhelming for your patient to reach a smaller milestone, and the progress will be a motivating factor in continuing their regimen at home.

2. Educate patients with handouts. Keep brochures on hand relating to a variety of health conditions. Then hand them out to patients, highlighting any important statistics or tips that relate directly to them. For example, seeing the mortality rate from heart disease might persuade your patient to maintain a better diet.

3. Make community connections. If you know of a community service your patient would benefit from, provide them the necessary info to get connected. For instance, if your patient needs help losing weight, a support group for overeaters might make a difference. Sometimes just a little extra support is all they need to stay motivated between appointments.

4. Host a workshop. Host a workshop that educates patients how to live with their chronic condition. For example, if you serve a large diabetic or cardiac patient base where diet is crucial to managing the diseases, offer a free workshop on how to read and interpret food labels and uncover the hidden dangers of certain foods.

5. Give homework. Make sure your patients know their success is largely in their own hands. Tell them exactly what they need to do at home, and let them know you’ll be checking their progress at the next appointment. Give your patients an exercise or diet journal to log their progress and hold them accountable to bring it to every visit.

6. Keep in touch. Make sure to schedule regular follow-ups with your patients and consider having a receptionist phone or email to check on them between appointments. Let them know they can call or email with any questions or concerns between appointments, too. The added attention will boost their motivation.

7. Eliminate obstacles. Does your patient have a cognitive or physical challenge impairing his/her ability to follow your medication or therapy regimen? For example, maybe he/she doesn’t understand medication dosing guidelines, can’t tolerate certain pill sizes or have difficulty opening medication bottles. Knowing of an impairment is the first step in removing it.

Practice Builders can help you motivate and educate your patients. Just email us at info@practicebuilders.com or call us at 855.898.2710 today for a free marketing consult. Whether you need brochures, webinars or blogs, we’ve got the tools you need to help your patients meet their health goals.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

4 Ways to Stick to Your Practice’s New Year’s Goals When Things Get Tough

4 Ways to Stick to Your Practice's New Year's Goals When Things Get Tough

Those New Year’s goals you set for your medical practice are a great motivating force, but at some point you may hit that proverbial wall and lose the drive to move forward. Because your practice’s success is too important to sacrifice, you need to stay motivated.

Here are four ways you can regain that momentum and get back to accomplishing your goals:

1. Don’t give up. Just because you went off track, don’t let that derail you completely from your objectives. Sure, you may have desired a complaint-free month and instead received four, but turn that negative experience into an advancement. Examine the source of your setback, implement any necessary changes to avoid it going forward, then get back on track. The simple truth: You won’t learn from your mistakes if you never make any, so look at failures as an opportunity to grow.

2. Rejoice in the small victories. Even small accomplishments and steps forward are worth celebrating. Have a way to let your staff know when you make progress with your goals. For example, hang a chart in a prominent location where your staff will see it, and tally new patient check-ins. Then ring a bell when you hit a certain mark as a signal that you’ve taken a step toward increasing your annual patient load and revenue. Remember: A goal is something that you work toward. Recognizing little accomplishments will keep your staff energized.

3. Accept the need to re-evaluate. If you start to sense a lack of any movement forward with one of your goals, re-evaluate it. From time to time you may enthusiastically set a goal that is simply not obtainable. Accept that reality, modify the goal by giving it more realistic, reachable milestones with trackable metrics, and move forward. You may have a goal that isn’t achievable anymore because of a change in federal regulations, which play a big part in the medical industry! Bottom line: Set new goals if yours become obsolete, or adjust them to match the current healthcare climate.

4. Reclaim your motivation. Take a moment to recall what it was that provided your incentive to reach your goals in the first place. Consider hosting a quarterly meeting with your practice’s staff to evaluate where you are and how to get to the next step. Offer motivational prizes and incentives for staff members who help meet your metrics, and regain that enthusiasm with which you started the new year. The good news: Your practice has huge potential; your staff just needs to be reminded and redirected!

Practice Builders can help you plan a profitable and productive 2017. Just email us at info@practicebuilders.com or call us at 855.898.2710 for a free marketing consult today. Let us help you stay on track with all of your practice’s goals, and keep a steady stream of patients coming through your doors!

Medical Healthcare Marketing

8 Ways to Handle Patient Complaints and Defuse Their Frustrations

8 Ways to Handle Patient Complaints and Defuse Their Frustrations

2017 will see healthcare’s full transition to value-based reimbursement, so scoring low on the patient satisfaction surveys that payers send to patients will cost you. But how do you handle those patients who, no matter how nice you are, you just can’t please? Whether it’s a patient unhappy with your fee, course of treatment or long wait time, you have to train your staff – especially the front desk, who’s on the front lines – to diffuse those difficult situations and promote peace in your practice.

Here are 8 ways you can manage patient complaints and diffuse their frustrations:

1. Be proactive. Don’t wait for patients to come whining to you – or their insurance companies – ask them how you’re doing, and ask them frequently. Ask directly, at checkout. Ask with surveys, both online and by mail. Have the tending physician ask during the appointment. Let your patients know their grievances matter, and you want to resolve them quickly and amicably.

2. Address concerns. Pay attention to what your patients are telling you, and address their concerns. For example, if your patients frequently complain that they have an unusually long wait time, re-evaluate if you have enough staff to handle your patient flow.

3. Listen attentively. A frustrated patient wants to be heard, not interrupted or told to calm down, which will only make things worse. Listen attentively until your patient is finished speaking before you interject anything into the conversation. And by all means, don’t roll your eyes, tap your pen or sigh deeply while you listen. That will only send the message that you’re annoyed and impatient.

4. Speak cautiously. After listening, pause and then speak in a calm tone. Make sure you understand what is bothering your patient by restating her concerns. Don’t tell your patient she is totally wrong; that will just agitate and alienate her further.

5. Thicken your skin. Don’t take your angry or irritable patient’s grievance personally. Is your patient facing an uncertain health challenge? Oftentimes anger is an outward manifestation of fear.

6. Trade places. Put yourself in your patient’s position so you can understand him better. Is he in a lot of physical pain? Has he been ill for a while? Patients who suffer chronic pain are apt to get agitated. Is your patient responding to a large bill while he’s out of work? Trying to understand how your patient feels will help you respond in a more positive manner.

7. Apologize. Apologizing to your patient will validate that you accept her concern. Don’t confuse this with accepting responsibility or blame, but instead see it as offering an empathetic way to connect with your patient. Saying something like, “I’m so sorry you felt rushed at your appointment today. Can I take some of your questions and have a nurse or the doctor call you back by the end of the day?” will offer empathy plus a solution, which could be all it takes to defuse a frustrated patient.

8. Document complaints. Make sure your staff is trained to document all complaints no matter how small. One complaint today could lead to a second next month or next year. Documenting the issue and how you resolve it will leave a paper trail should you need to prove anything under litigation.

At Practice Builders, we understand that it’s not easy dealing with frustrated patients. We can create scripts specifically for your practice that you can use to address patient complaints and provide customized training for your staff to handle difficult patients. Call us at 855.898.2710 or email us at info@practicebuilders.com and sign up for a free marketing consult to discuss how we can help!

Medical Healthcare Marketing

5 Ways to Train Your Front Desk Staff to Improve Customer Service

5 Ways to Train Your Front Desk Staff to Improve Customer Service

Your front desk staff pulls a lot of weight when it comes to your medical practice’s customer satisfaction. They’re the first people your patients speak to when they call and the first faces your patients see when they walk through your doors. Unfortunately, they’re also often the reason patients leave your practice. In fact, a recent study published in a 2016 issue of the Journal of Medical Practice Management revealed, after reviewing approximately 35,000 doctors nationwide, that a whopping 96 percent of patient complaints are a result of customer service, and only 4 percent are due to patient care. So make sure you’re providing proper customer service training to your staff!

Here are five training tips you can implement to boost your front-desk staff’s customer service satisfaction scores:

1. Put patients first! Train your front-desk staff to immediately greet patients who walk in the front door, even if they’re in the middle of something. A simple “Hi, I’ll be right with you” is sufficient if they’re busy helping another patient. This lets the incoming patient know you’re aware of his/her presence. Also, a friendly tone and helpful attitude on the phone will go a long way in making patients feel like you want to help them and they aren’t inconveniencing you.

2. Document your expectations. While it’s great if you have a shining-star front-desk staff member who’s always on top of things, ultra-friendly and loved by all, it won’t do you much good to have a few others who play by their own rules. Your medical practice should hold the front-desk staff to a consistent set of expectations. Document what you expect, and have new employees train from that manual.

3. Make HIPAA a top priority. Upholding patient privacy isn’t just a matter of common courtesy; it’s a legal issue with a hefty fine if violated. To train your front-desk staff on HIPAA regulations, mandate that they re-read the regulations periodically. Regularly discuss ways you can improve your practice’s implementation of these regulations. Have employees do role play to practice proper HIPPA compliance and then constructively critique one another. Your medical practice’s reputation and bottom line are at stake!

4. Diffuse angry patients. Your front-desk staff should be especially well-versed in what to do with angry patients. While your employees don’t deserve to be treated poorly, a first line of defense should be to understand and empathize with the patient. Keep in mind the patient could be in a lot of pain that can change how he/she behaves. Sometimes letting a patient win an argument or just vent can diffuse a tense situation, but let your staff members know they have your support if the situation becomes threatening, and be sure to have a procedure in place if it becomes dangerous.

5. Implement time management strategies. Your front-desk staff answers phones, checks in (and out) patients, books appointments and processes paperwork, just to name a few tasks. Make sure that they have the information they need and the appropriate amount of time to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. For example, they should know how long each type of appointment takes and how to schedule around emergencies so they can book accordingly and minimize patient wait times. Re-evaluate and/or re-distribute workloads if they appear overloaded, stressed or unable to keep up with all their tasks. Remember, your front-desk staff’s top priority is to promote a positive image for your practice.

Knowing how your staff should behave is one thing, but implementing this training is often a challenge. Let Practice Builders train your staff for you with our Customer Excellence Training so you can be confident that your front-desk staff is the best it can possibly be! Contact us at info@practicebuilders.com or 800.679.1262 to sign up for a free marketing consult.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

10 proven ways to make content go viral

If you’ve been involved in any sort of marketing exercises over the last five or so years, the word “viral” probably drives you nuts, along with phrases like:

“Let’s just post a viral video.”

“How can we really make this go viral?”

“Just tweet this out and watch it go viral.”

Right-thinking marketers know that there’s simply not some magic “viral” fairy dust that you sprinkle on a piece of content to make people take note. Though there are no guarantees when it comes to virality, there are a few ways—10, according to the infographic below from SEO firm MySiteAuditor—that you can help your cause. 

So, dust off those list posts, quizzes, engaging imagery and find the right influencers to help tell your story. And when you’ve done all 10 of these things and your content still doesn’t go viral, at least you’ll have the comfort of “I told you so.”

HealthCareCommunication.com